Of the many updates were dropped during Collider Connected‘s latest interview with directors, producers, and stunt pros Chad Stahelski and David Leitch, I think the updates about John Wick 4 were among the most exciting. Stahelski—the shepard of the John Wick franchise—not only shared with us a key update about the release date for the next John Wick sequel, but he also gave us some insights on how John Wick 4 came about, where he and his John Wick team are at in the scripting process, and let us in on where his head is at when it comes to raising the bar with stunts.
One of the most remarkable moments in Stahelski’s discussion with us about John Wick 4 was his recollection of how he, Leitch (who serves as an executive producer on the John Wick movies), franchise star Keanu Reeves, and their team kept stumbling into locking down more movies. As Stahelski told us, “Dave [Leitch] will tell ya, like, we did John Wick [in isolation], like, ‘That’s it. That’s the movie.’ No one was more shocked than we were when [Lionsgate] asked us to do a second one — and that was done as a single. And then we did a third one, okay, and that was meant to be done. Now we’ve been asked to do a fourth one and we’re like, ‘Okay, they’re all standalone. There’s no…plan. We’re kinda making it up as we go. But we finished the third one and Keanu and I are like, ‘Okay, time to move on. Let’s go do a romantic comedy or something. We’re good.'”
But, as Stahelski continued to describe, it seems like Reeves wasn’t as ready to leave the character of John Wick or this intriguing world behind. The John Wick director revealed during the interview,
“Then we just kinda met each other when we were doing the publicity tour and I think we were in Japan, and Keanu goes, ‘I think I got one more left in me,’ and we had one idea we didn’t use which we really loved and we have to cut it out of number three [Parabellum], just didn’t have the space for it. So we’re like, ‘Okay, we’ll do a fourth. That’s gonna be awesome. We’ll make a plan.’ The studios […] went, ‘We totally get what you’re trying to do.’ We submitted an idea or thematic [plan] and it was really big. So, we’re talking about doing a little bit more than a [John Wick 4], or something like that, and trying to develop that. We’ll see how that goes.”
So, now that John Wick 4 is fully happening, where does production on the project stand? With the entire industry currently in limbo where production is concerned, with many projects which were in the middle of filming now on hold and those projects either in pre- or post-production the only ones really able to get work done, where does John Wick 4 stand? Stahelski was able to offer insight there, too, telling Collider about what he called the John Wick 4 “scriptment” and the pre-production process he and his team are going through right now to shape said “scriptment” into the foundation for a new franchise entry.
“We have, I wouldn’t call it a first draft but I’d call it a ‘scriptment’: A written-out story, part outline, part script, part thing. We know where we want to go, we know the thematics. We call it “the toy box.” It’s like a 100-and-something page document, but some of it’s written. It’s a good place to start. Then we start thinning it out, and then we work with the writers to get the right scenes, and then we start working with Keanu’s dialogue. It’s a very outward-in process for us. Then, we’ll do the inward-outward process which is about character. So, to answer your question, I’m in a happy place where we are in development. We got, not quite a locked-in first draft, but we’re in a place where we know what we want do and where we want to do it.”
And while Stahelski is in a really happy place with the script so far — and I think the rest of the John Wick fandom should be, too, given this exciting update — how does he feel about crafting new stunts for the movie? Stahelski is a seasoned and skilled stuntman and have been able to incorporate those skills into his John Wick features to thrilling results. But the bar of expectation is no doubt raised even more on the heels of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. So, where does Stahelski stand on John Wick 4 stunts?
“Neither [Leitch or I] us hides from the the fact we were stuntmen. I’m pretty proud of it, like, cool. But we certainly don’t try to hide it. Like we’re just directing and we deal with that, like, ‘Yes, I want to make action movies.’ I think Dave and I were both good at what we did as stuntmen and as choreographers. So, we don’t want to lose that. I want to be cool with the action. I want to be a better director, but that doesn’t mean I want to do less action or have less to do with the action. I guess the third one just felt like I needed a place to go after number two, and I had these ideas. It kind of became that wacky action movie. There’s been a couple days where I’ve decided to do number four and I’ve woken up in a cold sweat going, ‘Horses! How do I beat horses?!’ Like, I have no fuckin’ idea, to tell you the truth. […] I think I have a lot of really cool ideas for the next one that I think are different and shocking and fun and unique. How to do them, I have no fuckin’ idea right now. I’m still figuring it out.”
Even though Stahelski didn’t spill any specific plot details or stunt plans beyond a vague tease of some underwater stuff (take that, Thunderball), what he’s laid out during his time on Collider Connected should send a jolt of excitement through every John Wick fan. The attention and care being given to the script, the focus on trying to be that epic horse stunt from Parabellum, and even Reeves’ enthusiasm to get back into the John Wick mix: All signs point to the fact that when John Wick 4 does finally hit theaters, it’s gonna be most excellent.