Outside of the film festival circuit, it’s rare that a movie kind of comes out of nowhere to suddenly pop up on everyone’s radar, because in this day and age nearly every project is being tracked by someone during development or production. But that’s kind of what happened with John Wick, the upcoming Keanu Reeves-fronted revenge thriller that is drawing enthusiastically positive notices from early screenings. Stunt coordinators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch make their directorial debut on the film, drawing from their extensive experience in the stunt world on films ranging from 300 to Speed Racer. I imagine the duo will be enjoying heavy interest about upcoming projects once John Wick opens in theaters on October 24th, but they actually already have one high profile project in active development: a TV series adaptation of Barry Eisler’s John Rain book series Rain, starring Reeves, that they will produce.
Steve recently spoke with Stahelski and Leitch at the press day for John Wick, and during the course of the conversation the duo also talked a bit about their plans for Rain. They confirmed that they’re developing the project at the moment with plans to take it out to networks shortly, and revealed that it’s envisioned as short 10-episode seasons on “high brow cable”. Moreover, they want to bring a level of action to the small screen that’s never been done before. Read on after the jump.
For those unfamiliar with Eisler’s book series, it’s described as a “globe-trotting action drama” that revolves around a half-Japanese, half-American assassin who specializes in making his marks look like they died from natural causes. The first John Rain book, A Clean Kill in Tokyo, was published in 2002 and was followed by six more novels in the series, with another on the way. If the project is sold to a network and produced, it would mark Reeves’ first major starring role in a TV show, so expectations are high.
Speaking about their plans for the show, Stahelski said they’ve been working with Slingshot Global Media, who has already hired two showrunners to bring the series to fruition:
“They’ve optioned the rights from Barry Eisner, the writer of the John Rain series, and they’ve found two showrunners that I think are amazing who are trying to really take the John Rain property, but all their thoughts together, put all the books together, and come out with this great series.”
Leitch revealed that they envision the show as living on cable as opposed to network TV, with shorter seasons:
“It would only live on sort of high brow cable, 10 episodes max a season. We want it to have a real cinematic quality or why do it? I mean it’s Keanu on TV, if it’s not done to that level then I don’t think any of us want to [do it].”
Stahelski added that they’re both big fans of television, and say they’d like to add to the “Golden Age of Television” by bringing the action level up to the same quality as the acting and storytelling:
“The quality level, the acting level’s been great. We just would like to take a ride on that and bring the action level up.”
Leitch echoed his statements, saying they’ve got quite a challenge ahead of them but they think they can pull it off:
“No one’s done the action to the level that I think we can do it. And it’ll be hard because you’re gonna fit it in a box on TV that you don’t have to fit it in a box in cinema, you have a little more resources. That would be the challenge for Rain, how do you make compelling action as well that’s worthy of the big screen but living on the small screen?”
That’s certainly an ambitious prospect, but judging by the footage we’ve seen from John Wick thus far (not to mention the rave reviews), I think if anyone can elevate the level of action on television it just might be these two.
Watch the rest of the video interview regarding Rain below, and look for Steve’s full interview with Stahelski and Leitch closer to the release of John Wick.