The John Wick movies feel ready-made for an action movie star like Keanu Reeves, but the initial plan for the franchise was very different, and it involved Clint Eastwood. Apparently, the idea was for the character to be much older, and the veteran Westerns actor was the man the creators envisaged as the star of the series.
The first John Wick movie came out in 2014, and the thriller movie series has gone from strength to strength since, garnering praise for its stylish action set pieces and neon-soaked visuals. There have been three instalments in the franchise so far, with the John Wick 4 release date scheduled for 2023, as well as a spin-off movie starring Ana De Armas in the works.
In a new book about the making of the movies, producer Basil Iwanyk revealed that the story he was sent way back before the movies were brought to life, involved a 75-year-old hero. Everyone’s vision of this character was for Clint Eastwood to come in and kick ass, and honestly, we can see it.
“[They] 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,” Iwanyk explained. “I thought, Okay, 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.”
The book, titled They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog, from Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, details how the production developed from those initial plans to finding its way into Keanu Reeves’ hands.
“Jimmy Darmody, is an agent at CAA, who at the time represented Keanu,” said 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? We give him the script, we tell him, ‘Clearly, you’re not 75.'”
Reeves liked what he read, and the changes were made to bring him in. “It was Keanu Reeves who got his talons into it and made it his own,” said screenwriter Kolstad. “I spent two months at Keanu’s house on the weekends working on the script.”
“To think that he read something on a Friday, in 90 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,'” Kolstad recalled. “The first thing that Keanu said to me was, ‘OK, Derek, I’m going to play him 35.’ And I’m like, ‘Fine.'”