The most difficult task in the movie industry is attempting to surpass a surprise hit that caught people off guard. That is challenge that Chad Stahelski met for John Wick: Chapter 2. With the filmmaker going out on his following the departure of David Leitch to Deadpool 2.
Using an array of combat techniques for action sequences that help to tell a story. All while also feeding the audience appetite is a quality Stahelski is synonymous for. Tdirector opened up about the public expectation for a title that is set to debut later in the week on February 9 as the early reviews are glowing for the picture.
Go Big or Go Home For Chad
Pressed about the uplift in tone and tempo for the sequel right from minute one, Stahelski explained that the intense action has to be sustained throughout if that is the decision filmmakers want to settle on.
"You're talking with guys who shot most of the action in some of the biggest shows out there and it as an absolute thing," he remarked. "There's some really creative people out there. There's some really great ideas, but sometimes even great ideas become smothered with overwhelming. Meaning, okay, you're doing, insert superhero name. 'We're going to blow up the city in the first act!' We just leveled the city? What are we going to do in the second act? 'Well, we're going to make it about a personal struggle between X and Y.' Okay? 'And then we're going to blow up the city again in the third act but with a big monster!' What creativeness went into that? So, you can either go the bigger, better route, but you have to make sure that if you do bigger, better here, that means you have to do bigger and better in your next scene. It's a vicious cycle."
With Stahelski bypassing the original course from producer or writer to director, he opened up about his background as a stunt coordinator and who inspired his journey to the hot seat.
"It's a happy coincidence," replied the director. "A little bit of luck. When I was doing the second unit stuff, I got to work with very good directors. Spending 10 years with the Wachowskis on The Matrix trilogy was the Harvard of film schools. It didn't take much to realize that if I want to be a filmmaker, shut up and watch how these directors work. I learned so much from them it was absolutely ridiculous. I've worked with Guy Ritchie, Quentin Tarantino, (Steven) Soderbergh. The list goes on and on. It's a who's who of directors. From Ang Lee to the Russo brothers. Just name a big time director and we've probably shot with them."
Stahelski Scared S***less To Take Charge of Sequel
Since the original became a smash hit, the challenge of being the sole director for the follow up was a task even the man himself felt daunted by.
"Yeah. I mean, it's odd coming from a former stunt man but yeah, I was scared s***less," he admitted. "Of course. It's the curse of the sequel. You do something original, so by definition, how do you do something original again when you've already done it? And it's also, Keanu is a good friend so you don't want to screw up his career. You don't want to go in for a cash grab and go, 'Yeah! Let's just go shoot more people! It'll be fine.' We stalled and stalled. The studio came back right off the bat and goes, 'Look, this is good. People like it. We should do another one.' And we were like, 'We would love to do another one! But only if we can come up with something.' We all looked at each other and said well, 'How hard can it be?' We started in January and it wasn't until June of being constantly asked, 'So do you have something?' It took months to figure out, let's just stop thinking about the plot and let's go with the character. Let's just show people what they want to see in the world."
Following the news of a television adaptation to expand the John Wick world to a prequel and whatever else the studio decides, Stahelski says that he is behind the program 100%
"Yeah. You know, right after John Wick came out, my partner David Leitch and I got involved in a project in the TV world and we ended up getting hooked up with two writers; Mark Abrams and Chris Collins," started the director. "They had a background from Sons of Anarchy and a few other shows. We spent a good year developing something with them and kind of learning how the new TV vibe was going. And they were very, very instructional about how to really build suspense and tension... There can be ten John Wicks. There can be one John Wick. It's not important how deep you go in the world, it's how deep the character takes you in the world. If you enjoy John and you take that route, you're always going to be invested in him."