[WARNING: This interview contains SPOILERS for John Wick.]
Keanu Reeves has had a strange and eclectic career. From screwball comedy star in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure to indie darling in My Own Private Idaho to action star in Point Break, Speed, The Matrix, and Constantine, he’s made more career transitions than most actors could even dream of.
And yet his most recent films have lacked the success of some of his earlier work. 47 Ronin in particular was a major financial disappointment, making $150 million at the worldwide box office against a $175 million production budget.
Perhaps that’s why John Wick came as a bit of a surprise. When the trailer was released a while back, it was a huge hit across the Internet. From the premise to the visuals to the high-octane action and gun-fu – everything about it seemed majorly appealing, and it looked like the perfect vehicle for Keanu Reeves to make his return to the genre in a big way.
The critical consensus so far has been extremely positive, and Reeves himself is said to be a genuine star in the movie. He plays the titular John Wick, of course, a former assassin who has recently lost his wife to cancer.
Unbeknownst to John, his wife adopted a dog for him to help him with her passing – Daisy the Beagle – and it seems to work, at least for a while. Unfortunately, a run-in with the son (Alfie Allen) of a Russian gangster (Michael Nyqvist) ends with John being knocked unconscious, his car being stolen, and Daisy being murdered.
At the John Wick NYC press junket a couple weeks back, we sat down with the actor to talk about his training for the film, his ideas for a sequel, and whether or not he’d be interested in playing Doctor Strange in the upcoming Marvel movie.
Screen Rant: You’ve been in a couple of action movies over the past few years, but the trailer for John Wick – which presents this story of a guy who goes on a rampage to get revenge for his dog – really seemed to resonate with people. Why do you think that is?
Well, the trailer was cool. I mean, I think the directors really had a vision for ‘John Wick’ and I thought, what they did, it looks great. They certainly had an ambition to raise the bar in action. And the film is fun. There are some great characters and worlds that you’ll enter.
In terms of the dog – yeah, I mean, it’s relatable. So many people have that relationship. The companionship. The connection. To our – to other beings, our pets. I hate to call them pets. But you know, to other creatures that we share our lives with. And with John, it’s a gift from his wife to help him grieve. You know, with her passing. […] You need someone or something to love. And we find out why.
So [the dog] is like an anchor, and that relationship is killed. And John doesn’t like that. He doesn’t like that.
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SR: No, he doesn’t. There’s a lot of really intense action in this movie and you do a lot of your own stunts as I understand it.
Well, I don’t do stunts. I do as much as I can.
SR: You do a lot of the fighting.
I do a lot of fighting. I’m like in 90% of the movie.
SR: Well, that’s awesome. And, you know, you’re 50 years old and you look younger than I do frankly. What was your training regimen and, more generally, what is your secret to immortality?
[Laughter] I don’t know. It’s my ancestors and the blood I drink.
In terms of training, it was really – it was fun. I mean, the directors, they come from a stunt background, and I’ve trained with them before. So it was working with someone with the pistols and the arms, the stunt-driving, the jiu-jitsu. It was basically like 9 in the morning, train until like 1pm or 2pm, eat lunch, lift weights, train again, and do that five/six days a week.
SR: So – fun? Very fun?
Are you kidding? It was a blast! It was like ‘John Wick’ bootcamp. It was awesome. They wanted me to have certain skill-sets, you know?
SR: Obviously, it depends on box office, but if there’s a sequel to John Wick, would you be interested and do you have any ideas for it?
You know, I like playing John Wick. I like him. I’d like to see a little – yeah, what else does he do? I don’t know, I like his passion. I like his sensitivity, in a way. You know? And I’d be curious to see why he went to that dark side. Like, why did he [make] that choice? Why did he become “the guy who you send after the boogeyman.” Why did he do that? Who is that guy?
SR: I want to see more – this is a little bit of a SPOILER – but I want to see adventures with him and that Pit Bull.
SR: And I do not want to see that dog [get killed]. I want to see him stay completely healthy throughout the film. That’d be great.
[Laughter] Yeah, because then we’re just “John Go.” From the Beagle to the Pit Bull? I mean – yeah, it should just be called “John Wick: Apocalypse.” [Laughter]
SR: This is my last question. Our website came up with a list of actors we want to see play Doctor Strange, and your name was right at the top of the list.
SR: If Marvel came calling, would you be interested?
Yeah – you know, I don’t know a lot about Doctor Strange.
SR: He’s magic, man.
SR: He’s the Sorcerer Supreme.
Is he? The Sorcerer Supreme?
SR: You should look into it.
After this, I’m going to go check it out, because I heard about that. So I can’t speak knowledgeably about ‘Doctor Strange.’ But would I be good for the guy?
SR: You would, I think you’d be great. You’d be perfect.
Cool. Well, I’ve gotta check it out. Because I like that kind of stuff.
SR: So – superheroes in general? You’d be interested in another comic book movie, perhaps?
Yeah, I mean, to me, I love that – I think ‘John Wick’ falls into this in a sense, the world creation. I like those movies. I go to those movies. I grew up on those movies. I like acting in those movies. You get to do fun, cool **** and entertain. I love all that.
John Wick hits theaters October 24th, 2014.
Follow me on Twitter @benandrewmoore.