John Wick could have been an old Clint Eastwood badass

Before Keanu Reeves took over the role, Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford were considered to play a John Wick older.

now cult, John Wick launched the directorial careers of Chad Stahelski and David Leitch in 2014 (Deadpool 2, Bullet Train), while rekindling the flame of old-school action movies. In the midst of superhero franchises, the old archetype of the tough-as-nails antihero, alone against all, has won back fans of the genre. With its exhilarating martial choreographies and its neo-noir atmosphere, John Wick it’s imposed. However, some would say that the film owes a lot to the charisma of its interpreter, Keanu Reeves.

However, it was not at all planned that he play the hitman, since he was not the target age for the role. Indeed, in a book devoted to the saga John Wick recently published (soberly titled 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), the producer Basil Iwanyk was interviewed in detail about the script for the first film.

A man and his dog

In the screenplay written by Derek Kolstad, the character of John Wick was originally very different. The retired hitman must have been notably much older. Like a Clint Eastwood in Ruthless or Ed Harris’ black cowboy in Westworld, John Wick should have been an invincible septuagenariancarrying with it the essence of an old twilight action cinema.

Basil Iwanyk, reading the script, imagined something similar in line with Kolstad’s vision:

One of my best friends sent me this screenplay by Derek Kolstad titled [à l’époque] Scorn. The lead role was a 75-year-old man, who retired 25 years ago. It was fun to watch some sort of Clint Eastwood kick some ass. So I thought to myself, ‘Okay, there’s probably one or two names that can play this role: Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford.

Ruthless: pictureJohn Wick, in another dimension than ours

However, for all the potential of having one of these two actors in the role (we bet Liam Neeson would have been interested too), the producer’s choice fell on someone else at the last moment. Keanu Reeves, who hadn’t had any notable roles in a while, found himself being advised by Basil Iwanyk. Despite the fact that he was underage, he was offered the script anyway.

Derek Kolstad says that the enthusiasm of the actor was such that the collaboration would then have imposed immediately between the two. According to the screenwriter, Keanu Reeves was sure he had found a perfect role for him and so revamped the character to match it:

He read the script in 90 minutes and said ‘I want to do this.’ […] The first thing Keanu said to me next was, ‘Okay, Derek, I’m going to play him at 35.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, okay.’

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade: photo, Harrison FordSorry Harrison, the role is not for you after all

Keanu Reeves then appropriated the film, going so far as to impose the title of John Wick without knowing it (the film was called Scorn at the base). But very good pick for the actor since the feature film has completely put him back on the front of the stage. Launched in a saga which we expect today the fourth opus for March 22, 2023 in theatershe has also since reappeared in the video game Cyberpunk 2077 and in the recent Matrix Resurrections.

Scorn with Clint Eastwood or Harisson Ford will never see the light of day, but John Wick will have been a huge success, while opening the floodgates to one more sprawling franchise. A spin-off, The Continentalis also in production.

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John Wick could have been an old Clint Eastwood badass