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How ‘John Wick: Chapter 2’ Pulled Off a ‘Matrix’ Reunion With Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne

Variety logo Variety 1/31/2017 Dave McNary
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Nostalgia ruled at Monday night’s world premiere of Keanu Reeves‘ “John Wick: Chapter 2” at the Arclight Hollywood.

“Back when I was doing ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,’ did I ever think I’d be doing a world premiere on Sunset Boulevard for something as cool as ‘John Wick?'” Reeves mused.

He went on, “I was hoping that I’d be making films and would have a career, so there was a part of me that wanted to have a career like this. I’m bringing some joy to John Wick too.”

Reeves admitted he’s impressed by the Wick films, with their mix of hyper-reality, deadly assassins and personal tragedy.

“John Wick is in pain,” Reeves noted. “We made this film with love. I love the world of John Wick.”

John Wick is also a dog lover, noted Derek Kolstad, who wrote both scripts and was inspired by early silent comedies.

“I’ve always loved Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin and Harold Lloyd and some of their strongest material was with a child or a dog,” he said. “They never talk to them — it’s their spirit animal.”

Kolstad calls himself a “massive” dog owner for the past decade. “Loki is an Australian shepherd mutt and the other is a basenji-whippet mix that’s unfortunately called Isis; we call her Izzie but we had the name first.”

DirectorChad Stahelski said he’s the owner of a pair of puppies named Koho and Lady, adding, “I was a cat person for 20 years and now I’m a dog person.”

Stahelski said that Kolstad’s inclusion of dogs made the storyline open-ended. “We’ve been [talking] about a third one, and dogs would be a part of it. How could they not be?”

Stahelski co-directed 2014’s “John Wick” with longtime stunt collaborator David Leitch. The duo worked on “The Matrix” trilogy with Reeves and Laurence Fishburne, who joined forces again in “John Wick: Chapter 2.”

“I didn’t think we had a chance to get Laurence for this, but Keanu ran into him and said he loved ‘John Wick,'” Stahelski recalled. “I’m still pinching myself.”

As for Leitch, who exec produced “John Wick 2,” he’s been dealing with a higher profile in recent months due to signing on to direct “Deadpool 2.” He came on board before “Deadpool” received a best picture nomination from the Producers Guild of America and a screenplay nomination from the Writers Guild.

“People are starting to ask me about it,” Leitch admitted. “With all the accolades, it’s daunting but it’s also a dream come true.”

Lionsgate opens “John Wick: Chapter 2” on Feb. 10.

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