Last week I conducted a live interview with directors Chad Stahelski and David Leitch for our new series Collider Connected. As you’ve hopefully seen in our previous episodes, Collider Connected allows us to go in-depth with our subjects due to the length of the conversations, and this discussion with Stahelski and Leitch was no different. Even though we had talked about the interview running around 45 minutes, we hit the 90-minute mark and I still had questions! I would have kept it going, but Leitch was late for a meeting.
If for some reason you’re unfamiliar with Stahelski and Leitch, the two got their start as Hollywood stuntmen before becoming stunt coordinators, creating their own action design company 87eleven in 1997. Stahelski and Leitch quickly became household names in the stunt world, and began directing second unit on tons of projects including Captain America: Civil War. In 2014, they released their directorial debut John Wick, and have since gone on to successful careers all their own—Stahelski has continued to steer the John Wick franchise, while Leitch has directed films like Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, and Hobbs & Shaw.
If you’re a fan of their work, you’re going to love this interview. During the wide-ranging conversation they talked about what they learned from working with the Wachowskis early in their careers, what they did on Speed Racer and how it was like going back to film school, working with Lana Wachowski on The Matrix 4, the formation of their action design team 87eleven, what it will take to get stunt work recognized at the Oscars, the status of a new Highlander film that Stahelski is developing, the importance of pre-production, and they shared some great behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the first John Wick (which they directed together) including how it almost was a straight to home video release. In addition, we talked about future projects like John Wick 4, Atomic Blonde 2, Deadpool 3, Hobbs & Shaw 2, and so much more it would be impossible to list it all here.
A huge thank you to Chad Stahelski and David Leitch for giving me so much time and to everyone that made it happen. Over the past decade I’ve done a lot of interviews. This is one my favorites. Check it out in the player below and further down is a list of everything we talked about.
Chad Stahelski and David Leitch:
- What have the last few weeks in quarantine been like? What’s it like to write a screenplay under quarantine?
- What did the two of you do on the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer, and why is it such a special film?
- Stahelski: What was it like working on The Matrix, and did you know it was going to be such a breakthrough movie when you were working on it?
- Why modern film campaigns need to show as much as possible, and why that’s frustrating for filmmakers.
- As filmmakers, what did you glean from working from the Wachowskis that you’ve taken with you today?
- How did the formation of your action design team 87eleven come to be, and what are its goals?
- The importance of pre-production, and the importance of training not just your actors and stunt performers, but your crew.
- With your track record, how much negotiating power do you have with studios now?
- What’s the most prep you’ve ever done on a project? Prep on The Matrix Reloaded, Ninja Assassin, and John Wick is discussed.
- What’s your and 87eleven’s involvement on The Matrix 4?
- What were some of the challenges of making and distributing John Wick as an independent film? How Keanu Reeves wrote a check to save the film’s funding, and how enthusiastic advance screenings saved it from a straight-to-video fate.
Is there anything about your films you wish you could tweak, or are you at peace with their completion?
- Why the first John Wick’s imperfections make it Stahelski’s favorite of the series.
- Stahelski: How did you craft the John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum dog sequence? And why Leitch is more of a dog person who made the series oriented around dogs.
- How Keanu Reeves is the most game, supportive, kind actor in Hollywood.
- Stahelski: What happened with the John Wick 4 release date shuffle?
- Stahelski: Where is the John Wick 4 script process at, and how do you approach heightening the sequel’s stakes and action sequences?
- Leitch: What’s the status of an Atomic Blonde 2 at Netflix?
- Leitch: What’s the status of a Deadpool 3?
- Stahelski: What’s the status of a new Highlander film? “I promise I’m gonna make it.”
- Leitch: What’s the status of a Hobbs & Shaw 2?
- Why sequels and franchises rotate with directors so much.
- Leitch: Do you know what your next project is?
If the two of you got in a fight, who would win?
- What’s your favorite John Wick kill?
- What was your main inspiration to move from stuntwork to directing?
- Would you like to direct a drama or pure comedy?
- What’s your advice for folks interested in working in the biz?
- What’s it gonna take for a stunt work Oscar?
- Are either of you interested in developing oners in your future projects? And what’s the difference between an effective oner versus a gimmicky oner?
If you’ve missed our previous Collider Connected interviews, we’ve had Oscar-winning composer Michael Giacchino (watch that here), two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins (watch that here), Will Forte (watch that here), Kaitlyn Dever (watch that here), and Joe Pantoliano (watch that here).