John Wick could have been an old Clint Eastwood badass

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

Now cult, John Wick launched the directing 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 his exhilarating martial choreographies and neo-noir atmosphere, John Wick has established himself. However, some would say that the film owes a lot to the charisma of its interpreter, Keanu Reeves.

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

In the script 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 Ruthlessor Ed Harris's black cowboy in Westworld, John Wick should have been an invincible septuagenarian, carrying within him the essence of an old cinema twilight action.

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

One of my best friends sent me this screenplay by Derek Kolstad called [at the time] 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, 'Okay, there's probably a name or two that can play that role: Clint Eastwood and Harrison Ford'.

However, despite all the potential to have 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, was advised by Basil Iwanyk. Despite the fact that he was underage, he was offered the script anyway.

Derek Kolstad says that the actor's enthusiasm 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 redesigned the character to match him:

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

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 whose fourth opus is now expected to be released in theaters on March 22, 2023, it 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 day, but John Wick will have been a huge success, while opening the floodgates to one more sprawling franchise. A spin-off, The Continental, is also in production.

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