Basil Iwanyk confirms in a book about the film that they were hoping to cast Clint Eastwood or Harrison Ford in the film.
They killed his dog and they shouldn’t have. One sentence and you know exactly what we’re talking about. That is how iconic Keanu Reeves’ John Wick is, it is a pop culture phenomenon that blew viewers’ minds and really matched the standard Reeves had set as the protagonist of The Matrix. But wouldn’t it be so weird if the premise was completely different?
Nothing like the bond of a man and his pup. pic.twitter.com/RwXPShxZrB— John Wick (@JohnWickMovie) June 17, 2022
Well, according to the contributor to the book, 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, Basil Iwanyk, the character was originally supposed to be 75 years old, giving us the Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford vibes that would have made for a completely different film, according to Variety.
THEY SHOULDN'T HAVE KILLED HIS DOG.— Mark A. Altman (@markaaltman) July 7, 2022
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Don't miss @edgross & @markaltman in conversation at #SDCC as we discuss our new book about #JohnWick & gun-fu with moderator @moviemantz. Details: https://t.co/zNgTzdtgMZ. @stmartins @edgross pic.twitter.com/3jvk0rrWo4
“One of my best friends is Charlie Ferraro at UTA, who sent me this script from Derek Kolstad called Scorn,” says Iwanyk in the book. “The lead was a 75-year-old man, 25 years after being retired. It was the fun of watching Clint Eastwood kick ass. I thought, ‘Okay, there’s probably one or two names you could do this with: Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford.’” However, they really couldn’t have predicted the journey the character would take.
Keanu Reeves has turned John Wick into an iconic action here over the last seven years, but it turns out the role was originally written for an actor more in the vein of Harrison Ford or Clint Eastwood.https://t.co/BCy6mNn4sA— Variety (@Variety) July 18, 2022
“My other best friend in the world, this guy Jimmy Darmody, is an agent at CAA, who at the time represented Keanu,” continues 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?’ And he was directing his movie, Man of Tai Chi, and doing 47 Ronin. We give him the script, we tell him, ‘Clearly, you’re not 75.’”
The man. The artwork. The legend. pic.twitter.com/HUcJ8BAHQN— John Wick (@JohnWickMovie) June 16, 2022
The Matrix star decided to make this film his own and really dug into the writing process. Reeves thoroughly loved the character so much that he changed up things so he could play him. Speaking of the film, the John Wick star says, “We all agreed on the potential of the project. It has this character of John Wick, but then you also have the real world and at the same time this kind of underworld. This den of thieves that have this honor and a code. It has this emotional connection with John Wick, who’s grieving, who’s lost the love of his life and has this mythical dark past. And I loved the quest that he goes on to reclaim his life. And the world he moves through to do it.”
Expectedly so, Reeves reads all the scripts UTA, WME, William Morris send out. Therefore, the writers knew that the actor would give this script a chance and then give his response. Screenwriter Derek Kolstad said, “He read [the script] 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.’ The first thing that Keanu said to me was, ‘Okay, Derek, I’m going to play him 35.’ And I’m like, ‘Fine.'”
The book They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog, written by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, will be published on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. Reeves, meanwhile, will return as John Wick in John Wick: Chapter 4, opening March 23, 2023 from Lionsgate.