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What was the big pain-in-the-ass stunt? The one that was just plain difficult to design or shoot?

Stahelski: Every set piece has its process. When you’re doing car stuff, you have to prep, there are a lot of safety factors that go into it. There are resets. If a stuntman misses a punch, everybody resets and we’re back up. You miss a car jump and it’s “Okay, let’s tow this one out of the way and bring in the next car.” Creatively, the mirror room was probably the most difficult. Not just the shoot, it did have its own pace, but it was me dealing with my cinematographer about how to shoot it. It was me dealing with the production designer about “What do we even make? How does this even look?” How do we outdo Enter the Dragon and add our own flavor to it? And then it’s going to the stunt team. “Okay, you have to think differently.” I can’t shoot this like I normally would. I’m going to be looking in reflections, I want to look up here and find the character in the ceiling. It’s a dance. Choreography is very much like a live dance. We get all of these mirrors in the rehearsal hall. It’s that goofy. It’s a bunch of guys holding mirrors going “That looked pretty good! This looks like shit! This looks great!”

Perry: Looking for the reflection, to the reflection, to the reflection, to the real guy!

Stahelski: Half of the stuff we found out, we discovered by accident. “This would be cool. Let’s try that!” And then on the day, you have to hide an entire crew. You can’t just make everybody go away. Creatively, it was the most fulfilling. It hurts your brain. We’re very proud of it and it wasn’t a bad thing. We had to sit down and go “Wow, we really have to think. We can’t just wing it!”

There’s a great sequence in the movie where John walks through New York and gets continuously attacked by a variety of different assassins with different styles. Does that involves personally working with each stunt person to ensure everyone has a unique and distinctive way of fighting?

Stahelski: Yes. Very much like that. I always wanted to use a sumo, so we got a professional. So we thought that would be fun. We wanted to show how big the world is and world expansion is really about characters and where they come from and their backstories. Me and my team would walk through New York…and if you’re going to do an alternate reality, New York it a great place to walk through. [Laughs] We actually did see a sumo-looking dude and say that would be great for the movie. We saw a lot of street performers, so we got a violinist. We saw every ethnicity you can imagine. We couldn’t get everything in, so I just picked the three most interesting based on location and came up their fighting style.

Like the first one, there are so many great little details in every scene. Like the “sommelier” at the Continental who uses wine terms to recommend guns.

Stahelski: Our porn. Our gun porn. Our wine porn. Our tailor porn.

How do those little touches emerge? Is that all on the page?

Stahelski: In the first one, a lot of what [screenwriter Derek Kolstad] put down came to fruition. For the second one, it was just all of us piling in these pages of notes. A lot of it came from my experiences on the first one. Derek and I would go around New York and just go “We’re writing a sommelier scene.” We’d just write down great service industries. You have sommeliers, you have room service, you have taxi cabs. You’re going to need a watchmaker, a masseuse. What are all the things that great hotels offer? As soon as we brought up the sommelier, everyone was like “That’s cool.” It helps build the world. It’s ridiculous, but we loved it.

The movie is so funny. The moment that had me cackling was Keanu Reeves and Common having an unseen gun battle with silenced weapons in the middle of a crowd.

Stahelski: The silent gun fight, we called it.

How important is infusing humor into your action scenes?

Stahelski: There’s the concept and then there’s the execution. The concept always works in your head. From all the years of doing second unit and seeing all kinds of directors at different levels try to pull off comedy…what always sunk in for me was that everyone onscreen was playing it straight. No one is trying to be funny. It’s just the scenario you set up. We walked through New York and saw several wacky things happen and none of the passerbys even acknowledged it. Because we’re from L.A., we’d walk by and say “Did anyone just fucking see that?” There’s a dude lying in the street unconscious! Everybody would just step over him. So what would it be like if we just had a massive gunfight in public? We legitimately think you could probably get away with it! [Laughs] We designed it like that. Just the ridiculousness of it kind of works for me. The people on the train don’t see all the blood and the bodies. That goes to our hidden world.

The next piece of the puzzle is that you have to get cast members who take their part super-seriously. Ian McShane was like “If this guy were really to exist, he’s be like this.” Common was like “Well, if I’m John Wick’s counterpart, I’m just going to be cool.” Everyone takes their part to that next level. We just don’t acknowledge it. We just show it! That’s the humor. We get asked this a lot with violence and action… I like that we’ve created a world that you know is not a reality. It’s a fantasy land. You can take the action up, you can stab a guy in the ear with a pencil and cut to a sumo getting shot in the head. You get a laugh. I want to build you up and then make you laugh. Just when John Wick gets done with the catacombs, he gets hit with a car. Apparently, John Wick’s kryptonite is cars. Especially from his right side. He always gets hit from his right side. And then him and Common have that brutal fight where they’re trying to kill each other and they go through the glass and then you realize they’re in the Continental. It’s insane. But it lets you off the hook and has a laugh. I think that’s pretty important.

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