Keanu Reeves in John Wick Chapter 2

It’s funny you mention Open Range because there’s a scene in Chapter 2 that made me think of the scene where Costner shoots the guy mid-sentence.

Oh, yeah. Open Range is one of those movies I tell so many people about. Here’s what’s really funny, though, it’s so slow, and it’s like an old samurai movie where they talk about … He brought in a gunslinger, and then it’s like, “You the gunslinger?” He walks up, “Yeah,” and he just shoots him in the face. That to me is one of the best western moments ever, and it came up in conversations all the time. I told him, “Go see this movie,” and sure enough that’s an homage. I’m a big fan, too, of killing in the middle of a sentence because in real life you never wait for the guy to end, you know?

[Laughs] When John Wick hangs up on somebody, it spares him and the audience of a monologue, too.

It’s an Incredibles joke, but we always joke about, “Okay, he’s monologuing.” Even today when you watch a movie and people just start telling you the backstory, you’re like, “I don’t wanna know this.” It works rarely. When it does it’s like the USS Indianapolis story from Jaws. Ungodly believable. That’s one of the best scenes ever, but it’s so rare to do it right, and so in this like, like I said, “Do I know you by way of the German?” It’s all you need. Something like, “Holy shit, there’s a world beneath a world.”

You mentioned the script was 86 pages. How many of those pages were dedicated to the club sequence in Rome? How much detail do you go into with a sequence as big as that one? 

I feel blessed in the fact that when you watch the first John Wick, when you had the assault on his house and then the classic club scene, I loved that there are a couple of scenes in there that I wrote in the script. Like, there’s one [bit] where John shoots him in the foot, and then shoots him in the head, and that’s in the script. There’s another scene where he was going to shoot a guy, and he’s empty, and he reloads in front of the guy and shoots him. That was in the script.

Italy was hard because we didn’t know how many days you’re going to get, and at one point we had a motorcycle chase with Keanu’s Arch connection, but really what it came down to was Chad saying, “I really wanna do something with a tactical shotgun. I really wanna do something where, as John goes in, he plants these guns.”

A lot of times when you read my action is I write out the beginning and the end of action. The rest in between is like, “And John’s on a rampage.” Because you both want to assist the second unit guys, but not get in their way. 87Eleven, they’re the premier stunt crew out there. They know. A lot of times when I’m sitting down talking and meeting with them they have better ideas. I mean, I’m a writer, and I can write something that sounds cool, but then when you see them do it it’s like, “I don’t know if you can write that.”

[Spoiler Alert]

Before that action scene, seeing John Wick act compassionately towards Gianna (Claudia Gerini), it’s a great scene. Did that scene come naturally or was it tough to write?

Oh, no, it took forever. John never changed in that scene, it was always her. We initially wanted her to be a little bit like Monica Bellucci, kind of insane, a little bit more … Not the Joker, that’s too far. But like she’s fucking John by killing herself, that was the initial [idea]. Then we realized it didn’t feel right because she… A lot of the characters are emulations of John, they’re reflections of John, and so in this moment, she’s giving him an out, but also cursing him. What we liked about that — and we brought it up all the time — it is the duality of man. We do certain things in our life because it’s good, but at the same time, we kind of hope that little bad thing happens.

That one took forever. It’s funny you bring it up, because of all the scenes, that one took the longest. We went back and forth, back and forth. She hit it out of the ballpark. Again, to her credit, to Keanu’s credit, the DP is phenomenal, and Chad’s great, but they made that scene better than it should be. As a screenwriter, you’re humbled by that. It’s like, “Hey, I’m glad I got you there, but you went so far beyond my skill set.”

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John Wick: Chapter Two opens in theaters February 10th.

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