How Lance Reddick First Responded To The Charon Surprise In John Wick: Chapter 4

SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for John Wick: Chapter 4. If you have not yet seen the film, proceed at your own risk!

The end of John Wick: Chapter 4 has stirred up a lot of conversation because it features the death of Keanu Reeves’ titular protagonist, but certainly not to be forgotten is that he is one of two major characters who doesn’t make it to the movie’s end credits. Charon, played by Lance Reddick (who tragically passed away earlier this month), is killed by Bill Skarsgård’s Marquis in an early scene – instantly setting high stakes for the film. It’s a shocking moment given fan appreciation for the stoic, talented concierge of The Continental, and Reddick was definitely taken aback when he first learned about Charon’s fate from the script.

I learned about Lance Reddick initial response to his character’s death while interviewing the actor and co-star Ian McShane at the Los Angeles press day for John Wick: Chapter 4. After talking about Winston’s motives at the end of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum and working with Ana de Armas in the upcoming movie Ballerina, I moved the conversation into spoiler territory. I specifically asked about his reaction to Charon’s fate in the movie, and he said with a smile,

You mean when I read it? I was like, 'What the fuck, man?’ ... I had a long conversation with [John Wick: Chapter 4 director] Chad [Stahelski] about it.

I followed up the conversation in my own chat with Chad Stahelski nearly two weeks after sitting down with Lance Reddick and Ian McShane – the day before the news broke that Reddick had died. I told the filmmaker that I had asked the actor about Charon’s death, noting that he seemed heart-struck, and he explained why it was that call was made in the John Wick: Chapter 4 script.

Stahelski began by saying that he could understand criticisms of the decision, noting that he is aware that it is sometimes an indication of creative bankruptcy:

I hope Lance doesn't hate me… When you kill a character, especially someone that's beloved, the first gut reaction is, even to us, is it's a gag. You know, 'We don't have any better ideas, so let's just kill somebody and we'll do the Game Of Thrones thing and just make you feel shitty.’

He added that he wasn’t sure what version of the script Lance Reddick had read, noting that the movie changed over the course of the project’s development, but emphasized that it wasn’t a decision that was made flippantly. There were evidently versions of the script where Ian McShane’s Winston was killed (something McShane alluded to during my interview), but ultimately it was understood that Charon’s death was what was right for the film:

I could absolutely see where he thinks, 'Look, you know, you gotta kill the puppy, now you gotta kill Charon.' You know what I mean? It's a gag. And we tried it many different ways in the script with the death. At first maybe it was Winston that was gonna die. We tried a lot of things, and, again, it'll be, I guess my opinion, but when I read the whole script, there's a little bit of an emotional oscillation, right? You try to bring things up, bring things down. When we took it out, it didn't have a wallop. I didn't care as much.

The moment in question comes relatively early in John Wick: Chapter 4. Winston and Charon go to meet with the Marquis, and they face serious consequences for their association with the killer nicknamed The Baba Yaga. Winston is stripped of his role as the manager of The Continental, but more importantly, Charon is shot and killed.

It’s a striking moment in the first act of the movie, and Chad Stahelski recognized it as a key and important plot beat:

As soon as we did that, that just woke everybody up, like, 'Oh fuck, they're not fucking around this time.' It's hard to make a movie or a quadrilogy, whatever you want to call it, about consequences when there's no consequences. Unfortunately, shit's gotta happen, and it's gotta be bad shit sometimes. In any Greek tragedy, a loved one is taken. The god's take, and they're never afraid to take.

Sadly, John Wick: Chapter 4 will now be remembered as one of Lance Reddick’s last films, though, as alluded to, we will see the actor back as Charon in Ballerina – which is set prior to the events of the new movie. He’ll next be featured in the remake of White Men Can’t Jump, which is scheduled to be released on May 19 on HBO Max.

If you haven’t seen it already, John Wick: Chapter 4 is now playing in theaters everywhere, and you can consult our 2023 Movie Release Calendar to learn about all of the titles set to hit cinemas and streaming services in the coming months.


Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.