Scott Adkins talks about the martial arts masters of his youth and the thrill of filming alongside legends for John Wick Chapter 4

Scott Adkins discusses his rise to martial arts fame, playing Killa in John Wick: Chapter 4, and his ambitions for the future.

Last Updated on November 2, 2023

Scott Adkins, John Wick: Chapter 4, Killa, martial arts

When most people think of martial arts masters, names like Bruce Lee, Donnie Yen, Chuck Norris, Michael Jai White, Cynthia Rothrock, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Michelle Yeoh come to mind. Still, Hollywood is ripe with what some would call unsung industry heroes, such as Scott Adkins, a powerhouse of talent on several fronts. In a detailed article featured in The Hollywood Reporter, Alex Ritman delves into Adkins’ origin, a quest for the spotlight, and reputation for being one of the hardest working badasses in Tinseltown.

In addition to being a charismatic actor, Adkins is a gifted student of many martial arts disciplines, including Taekwondo, Judo, Karate, Ninjitsu, Capoeira, Krav Maga, Wushu, Muay Thai, Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do, Kickboxing and Brazilian and Jui Jitsu. His passion for elevating his body and spirit began near the age of 10 when the captivating Bruce Lee inspired Adkins to study Judo. After getting mugged at age 13, Adkins expanded his training to include Taekwondo and Kickboxing, with Jean-Claude Van Damme as a source of inspiration. Adkins likens Van Damme’s Kickboxer as a gateway into the martial arts arena, as his desire to kick ass on screens grew with every passing day.

Appearing in over 60 titles, most of Adkins’ roles involve making an impression from the backline or straight-to-DVD affairs. However, Adkins got a chance at the big time when he joined the cast of John Wick Chapter 4 as the German mob boss Killa. Still, the high-profile part came at a sacrifice, with Adkins slipping into a fat suit, obscuring his chiseled physique. Making the most of an outstanding opportunity, Adkins owns the role and then some, giving Keanu Reeve’s Mr. Wick a run for his money while battling the Baba Yaga in the rain. The fight between Killa and Mr. Wick is a highlight of the Chad Stahelski-directed film and a fine display of Adkins’ ability to take advantage of any opportunity.

“It’s a weird one, because I’m not very recognizable,” Akins told THR. “Even though it’s a great character to play and I really relished the opportunity to create him and do something different, I’m still under the radar.”

While Adkins is more than aware of his worth, others feel he’s criminally underrated in Hollywood.

“Scott should have been James Bond, he should have been Batman,” says Isaac Florentine, the action filmmaker who’s worked with Adkins on several projects. “Because people will see someone who not only can act, but can move like nobody else, with no stunt guys and no doubles. He deserves to be a mainstream star.”

Speaking with THR, Florentine says Adkins almost missed the chance to play the Russian prison fighter and MMA champion Boyka in 2006’s Undisputed II: Last Man Standing. Michael Jai White is the film’s leading man, but esteemed members of the martial arts community highly regard Adkins’ role. Florentine fought to give Adkins the part after concerns about him being too attractive and only 5’10. Adkins grew a beard and slipped on heeled shoes, transforming him into a more imposing and gruff figure. His performance spread like wildfire among action aficionados, bolstering his reputation as a force to be reckoned with.

Thankfully, Adkins says a “new wave of stuntmen turned directors,” know a good thing when they see it.

“So you’ve got those guys that look at what I’ve done in the past and they’re not snobby about it,” Adkins says. “Because they understand what it is and that you need to have somebody who can do the action to make their films better.”

With high-profile filmmakers like Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves in his corner, it could only be a matter of time before we see Adkins’ name center stage for an action blockbuster or franchise. While Adkins remains humble and is happy being who he is, he keeps the dream of going bigger close at hand.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.