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Interview: Chad Stahelski talks John Wick 2 Blu-Ray & what's in store for 3

06.13.2017

The first time I saw JOHN WICK, I was stunned. This intense ride moved at a lightning pace, and it featured some of the coolest action sequences I had witnessed is quite awhile. While I had my doubts that the sequel would be just as kick ass, I was thankfully proven wrong. JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 is yet another incredible action flick with smarts. While we can certainly credit Keanu Reeves and his intense portrait of a hired killer, it is his partnership with filmmaker Chad Stahelski that helps make this series as amazing as it is.

With the Blu-Ray release of the second chapter, we had the opportunity to sit down with Chad for a quick conversation about special features, working with Keanu and what we can expect in the future with Mr. Wick. Chad is always terrific to talk to. He is intelligent, funny and especially well versed in the world of creating movie magic. The director opened up about how audiences have changed and just how collaborative his team can be. I love this character and these films, and I am very much looking forward to sitting back this week for another round of JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2. Make sure you pick up your copy today!

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Can you talk about the process of putting the JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2 Blu-Ray together when it comes to special features including deleted scenes?

Honestly, as far as deleted scenes go, there were three. They are just the only three we deleted. And we liked them all, it just didn’t quite… the movie felt tighter and felt a bit more fun being a little shorter. And by deleting these scenes, even though we loved them, it was kind of like director porn for me. I could watch Keanu walk through this church scene when he meets this Bishop guy. And then the scene with Riccardo Scamarcio and John Leguizamo, it was fun. They just didn’t move the plot forward at all. And sometimes you go back and you watch these early movies from the Sixties and Seventies, these great works of art, and they'd never survive today. The studio would cut them down an hour and a half, or an hour and forty-five. The studios may be justifying that because the audiences are completely different now. The YouTube generation and Attention Deficit Disorder is in full swing now. So you want to get to the punch, what’s the thing. 

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Pacing is one of the biggest things we get in the editorial in post as directors. They are like, “What’s the pacing? What’s the pacing? Where’s the slow spot?” They are always worried what is the slow part. If you are a true moviegoer, slow is what makes the fast good and fast is what makes the slow good because you want that rhythm. That’s not really addressed as much anymore. So you end up with these bloated mega-features which are two and a half to three hours and you are like, oh my God I can’t sit through this. Or you get these movies that are ninety minutes and it is in and out. It’s a trick trying to find what marketing and the studio feel is the right pace, and what you feel is the right pace creatively without neutering it. Without stripping it down to almost too little or letting a movie breathe. It wasn’t that we didn’t like the scenes, but creatively it felt like the movie was smoother and people got more enjoyment out of it. And that is kind of what we are about, the audience enjoying it. Do I love the scenes? Absolutely. So I’m glad they’re in there, it was fun.

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That’s great.

Being able to do the commentary with Keanu is great. It’s like when we did the first JOHN WICK, me and my partner Dave have a good time. We enjoy making movies and we learned a lot from being behind the scenes. Before behind the scenes stuff was really a big thing, you know, the movie would come out and you’d wait almost a year and then HBO would do something. There were no DVD’s and no internet yet. That’s how I remember some of the first filmmaking tricks we learned was from these weird behind the scenes where you actually got to hear the director talking.

We started to realize that wow, they are people, we can actually get this, it’s not all illusion and magic. A lot of it is trying to be the publicity, like “Yes! The actors do their own stunts. YES! I had a plan and vision the whole time. YES!” And then you start to realize that there is a lot of oops and f*ck ups and mistakes and you learn from that and try to go forward. Some of it is trial and error and moviemaking is a creative and collaborative evolving process. And that is kind of fun so we wanted to get that out. Yeah, we have a pretty good plan and a distinct vision of what we wanted JOHN WICK to be, and the action and all that stuff.

There are a couple of other things that are organic and evolve. Like, wow, we started the first JOHN WICK thinking are we really going to kill a puppy, should we kill a puppy, oh I guess we are going to kill a puppy. And you problem solve from there. And if it was very helpful to us, hopefully it will be very helpful to other people that want to make movies. We like telling the backstory of everything and how things come about. And sometimes. literally, it’s a bunch of guys sitting in a room, not this big studio mechanism where you are forced to be geniuses. Some of it is just two guys talking in a room and next thing you know you come up with a great idea.  One of the biggest scenes in JOHN WICK 2 was literally, my partner Dave Leitch and I were sitting in our gym facility at 87eleven with a bunch of stunt guys hanging out and trying stuff. Keanu came in to do his workout and he throws the door open and says, “I got an idea! We are going to have Gianna kill herself…” We were like, what the f*ck are you talking about. So he pitches the idea and it was like, that’s great! And we changed the whole second act based on that one scene.

Sometimes he was just driving on the 405 on his motorcycle, he gets this idea. We have a lot of mirrors at our place to help train actors. You sit in the mirror and you are like, ‘Yeah, you know what, f*ck it, we are going to do an ENTER THE DRAGON mirror scene at the end of the movie. Then it’s like, we don’t even know what the third act is… “It doesn’t matter! It’s gonna end with the mirror scene!” And that’s how we wrote around it. You want to get those out. Those are fun stories and we want to get them out to use for the behind the scenes on DVD and Blu-Ray and you get them out there.

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Where do you go from here? How big are you going to make the JOHN WICK universe?

I think, in my opinion the trapping would be to try and make it bigger. I can’t tell you whether JOHN WICK CHAPTER 3 will be bigger or smaller, but hopefully it will be different and more fun, or more creative and different. I think originality suffers sometimes by going big or by size or quantity. Obviously you can see several franchises out there right now that if you just got rid of the title card, you can follow the movie just by closing your eyes and listening and going, I know what’s happening here. The building is crumbling. The earthquake is happening or the laser and the spaceship is coming down.

We look at it as a challenge rather than a moneymaker. We look at it like, okay, John Wick did this and this and we did these kind of cool things as well. It’s our world which is the greatest part about it. It’s an original property. We don’t have to bend or fit into any preexisting ideas or mythology about what John Wick is. Can we be cooler? Can we come up with some different stuff? Can we show you a different aspect to the world? I think we’ve got some pretty good ideas. Again, I’ll let you know in about a year or so when Rotten Tomatoes skewers us [Laughing] but we’ll see what happens.

Well you’ve done pretty good with Rotten Tomatoes so far.

We’re about due aren’t we?

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[Laughing] It must be a dream come true to have that kind of relationship with your leading actor.

We are very fortunate. We were in the business for thirty years before we directed stuntmen and stunt coordinators and all that stuff. By the time you get there you already know the game. You know who is full of shit and you know who isn’t. You have a lot to say about who your crew is, and you are going to spend the next year of your life with these guys. With writers, the grips, art directors, caterers, craft service guys; these are the people that you are living with, your family for a year. So if you surround yourself with all the really good, smart people, you don’t mind spending fifteen hours a day with them. You really have to depend on them.

Directors aren’t a singer, we aren’t a musician, we’re not like a painter that can go from our mind to the canvas. Creatively I have at least one hundred degrees of separation in between me and what I want to finish. I’ve got the studio people. I’ve got every department head. I’ve got the painters. I’ve got the grips… you know. I’ve got the dog trainer. Everybody has the idea as to what JOHN WICK is supposed to be and it is my job to keep it on track. But I have to work with people. If I can’t communicate my vision and I can’t bend you to my will, is it really my movie at the end.  That’s the trick. So you try to keep it like that and you try to get the people around you that can click with you, even if they don’t get what you are trying to do, they know they are following your direction. That’s a pretty good process. So if you get a lead actor, it all starts with him. Starts with me behind the cameras and it starts with him in front of the camera. And if he can bend the scenes to what we are trying to get, and I can bend him to what I’m trying to get behind the camera, that’s a pretty good start. So I love working with him. I love my crew. I love my cast. It’s all fun.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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