Originally, the character of John Wick was an elderly man of 75 who was supposed to be essayed by the likes of Harrison Ford or Clint Eastwood, but Hollywood star Keanu Reeves took the character and changed it, played it and turned it into one of cinema’s most iconic characters, reports Variety.
Franchise producer Basil Iwanyk confirms in the new book ‘They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Ass-Kicking Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action’.
Quoted by Variety, Iwanyk in the book (via Entertainment Weekly): “One of my best friends is Charlie Ferraro at UTA, who sent me this script from Derek Kolstad called ‘Scorn’. The lead was a 75-year-old man, 25 years after being retired. It was the fun of watching Clint Eastwood kick ass. I thought, ‘Okay, there’s probably one or two names you could do this with: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford’.”
“My other best friend in the world, this guy Jimmy Darmody, is an agent at CAA, who at the time represented Keanu,” continues Iwanyk, “And he said, ‘Do you have any action movies for Keanu Reeves?’ I remember thinking to myself, ‘Keanu is one of the great action stars of the last 25 years, what happened to him? What’s he been doing?’ And he was directing his movie, ‘Man of Tai Chi,’ and doing ’47 Ronin’. We give him the script, we tell him, ‘Clearly, you’re not 75’.”
Variety further states that Reeves says in the book that he immediately knew “John Wick” would be “such a great collaboration,” adding that, “We all agreed on the potential of the project. It has this character of John Wick, but then you also have the real world, and at the same time this kind of underworld. This den of thieves that have this honour and a code. It has this emotional connection with John Wick, who’s grieving, who’s lost the love of his life and has this mythical dark past. And I loved the quest that he goes on to reclaim his life. And the world he moves through to do it.”
According to screenwriter Kolstad, it was Reeves himself “who got his talons into (the script) and made it his own.” ‘The Matrix’ actor loved the script so much that he overhauled the character so that he could play him.