Although last December saw Keanu Reeves reprising Neo for The Matrix Resurrections, nowadays the actor is chiefly keeping busy on the action front by playing John Wick. Reeves debuted in 2014 as the former hitman who’s drawn back into the criminal underworld after his dog was killed, and next year will mark his fourth outing in the action-packed film series. However, before Reeves came along, John Wick was being envisioned as looking at lot different when it comes to age.
How Keanu Reeves came aboard John Wick is explored in the new book They Shouldn't Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman. In an excerpt shared by EW, Basil Iwanyk, one of the John Wick franchise’s producers, recalled the original, much older depiction of John Wick with these words:
There was a lot of buzz for Scorn at this time, resulting in a bidding war that ended with what’s now known as John Wick being acquired by Lionsgate. Keanu Reeves, who around this time had appeared in movies like Man of Tai Chi and 47 Ronin, obtained Derek Kolstad’s script through his agent, Jimmy Darmody, although Kolstad made it clear up front that Reeves was obviously nowhere near the same age as how he’d crafted John Wick. Eventually Reeves decided he wanted in on John Wick, but he would not play the character as if he’d been alive for three-quarters of a century. As Kolstad recalled:
The prospect of having an actor like Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford playing John Wick is a fun ‘what if’ scenario to imagine, but it’s safe to say that casting Keanu Reeves in the role and cutting down the character's retirement from 25 to five years was the right call. The movie was not only met with positive critical reception, but also made $86 million worldwide off a budget in the $20-30 million range. This performance was enough to greenlight John Wick: Chapter 2, paving the way for what’s now a popular franchise. In addition to John Wick: Chapter 4’s arrival on March 24, 2023 and John Wick: Chapter 5 being in the works, we’re also getting the Ana de Armas-led Ballerina spinoff and the prequel event series for Starz called The Continental.
While we wait for more news about what to expect from John Wick: Chapter 4, including the ideas that Keanu Reeves brought to the (High) table, check out our 2023 release schedule to learn what other movies are coming out next year.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.