The last time he worked in France, more than 35 years ago, it was for a very different project: the period drama “Dangerous Liaisons”.
These days, he is best known as the brutal but elegantly suited assassin John Wick, whose latest outing features bravura stunt scenes at tourist hotspots like Montmartre, the Trocadero and the Arc de Triomphe.
“To be able to go to the places that we did with ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’, like filming in front of the Sacre-Coeur and the steps up to it in Montmartre, to be in the canal underneath the city, to be on the streets shooting at night — it was very special.”
He likes the physicality of filmmaking.
“I like a good action film,” he said.
“We use digital technology, but we’re more into the flesh-and-blood, visceral celebration of the movement of bodies, of the violence — it’s almost ballet, you know.”
– Reaching the limit –
It came as something of a surprise that John Wick — the man taking revenge for the murder of his dog in the first instalment in 2014 — has turned into such an iconic role for Reeves.
Famously, the franchise is helmed by Reeves’s stunt double from “The Matrix”, Chad Stahelski.
“The role in ‘The Matrix’ was a wonderful, life-changing experience in my youth, and John Wick is that for my elder years, for my fifties,” Reeves said.
Approaching 60, is he getting too old for all those painful-looking fight scenes?
“I’m getting close! Did we reach the limit? I don’t know,” he said.
“What we do is not easy… I need to train for months before we do it. I have to have teams of stunt people.”
“John Wick” takes its inspiration primarily from classic Hong Kong action films, with added visual cues from European and Hollywood noir thrillers.
Beyond the high-level stunts, Reeves says it’s the internal tension of the main character that keeps audiences captivated.
“John Wick the man and John Wick the assassin… they’re almost at war with each other, but they’re also connected,” Reeves said.
“That interplay, that tension I think is fascinating.”