With the John Wick 4 release date now upon is, it’s hard to envision anyone apart from Keanu Reeves heading the action movie franchise. But a new book has revealed that the role was originally written with a 75-year-old in mind, with Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford both being seen as frontrunners for the role before Reeves showed an interest. The book, written by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, is entitled, ‘They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action.’
Basil Iwanyk, producer of the John Wick movies, made the revelation in an interview for the book. “One of my best friends is Charlie Ferraro at UTA, who sent me this script from Derek Kolstad called Scorn,” he recalled. “The lead was a seventy-five-year-old man, twenty-five years after being retired. It was the fun of watching Clint Eastwood kick ass.”
“I thought, OK, there’s probably one or two names you could do this with: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford. Other than that, I’m not sure how I put this movie together. But the tone of the script for John Wick was subversive and really fun. It has a very clear emotional through line and a great premise for an action movie.”
Kolstad, who was also interviewed for the book, added, “We had talked internally about actors, but it was Keanu Reeves — a voracious script reader; anything he gets his hands on, he reads — who got his talons into it and made it his own. I spent two months at Keanu’s house on the weekends working on the script. When I first went and met with him and walked into his house, and as he rounded the corner to say hello to me — it’s a nice house, it’s not ostentatious for a guy who’s worth, I dunno, billions — and I look in his office, I see he has three hundred screenplays stacked on his desk, because he reads everything that UTA, WME, William Morris sends out.”
“He reads them all,” Kolstad states. “And so think that he read something on a Friday, in ninety minutes, and was like, ‘I want to do it.’ In that moment, before I met and really clicked with him, I was like, ‘Yeah, I really want to do it, too.’ The first thing that Keanu said to me was, ‘OK, Derek, I’m going to play him 35.’ And I’m like, ‘Fine.'”
To see other films that Reeves got his talons into, check out our guide to the best Keanu Reeves movies. Alternatively, peruse our list of all the new movies coming this year, or look to the future with our guide to a potential John Wick 5.