Old School Americana & Nostalgia


How Clint Eastwood’s Epic Western Trilogy Shaped ‘John Wick’

How Clint Eastwood’s Epic Western Trilogy Shaped ‘John Wick’

Clint Eastwood provided a powerful template for other Western movies to follow yet it even seeped into John Wick. As you might recall, Eastwood played the fabled “Man with No Name” in three Sergio Leone films. This was a man who didn’t speak a lot. He let his actions do the talking. Well, giving Eastwood a limited amount of dialogue built up the mystery around this person.

It’s something that John Wick 4 director Chad Stahelski introduced into Keanu Reeves’ character. Therefore, Reeves spoke very few words as compared to other movies. Several “whoas” and “yeahs” found their way into Wick’s dialogue. But that’s it. Stahelski talked about his approach here while being interviewed for the Happy Sad Confused podcast.

“We decidedly wanted to do like the Man with No Name thing from all the Leone and the Eastwood stuff,” Stahelski said. “And Keanu is such a big screen actor, a little eyebrow raise means quite a bit, and I think he has at least two dozen different ways to say ‘Woah’.”

Clint Eastwood Has Another ‘John Wick’ Connection

Beyond this, though, there is another connection between Eastwood and the John Wick film series. An original draft for the movie series had a 75-year-old hitman who was retired as the main character. Basil Iwanyk, the film’s producer, talked about this situation, according to Fanwire. Iwanyk offered his thoughts for the book They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog: The Complete Uncensored Oral History of John Wick, Gun Fu, and the New Age of Action. It was written by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman.

“One of my best friends is Charlie Ferraro at UTA, who sent me this script from Derek Kolstad called ‘Scorn,’” Iwanyk said. “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.’”

But the script ended up getting adjusted so that it would fit Reeves’ age. It would have been interesting, though, if they had tried to pursue Eastwood or Ford. Reeves, though, has made the John Wick franchise work for him and his style of acting.

Keanu Reeves Looks Back on Getting Script

In the book, Reeves talks about how he received the script for the first John Wick movie, according to Entertainment Weekly. “Basil brought the script to me with the idea that I would be a part of such a great collaboration,” Reeves said. “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.”

And making Wick reflect a little of the “Man with No Name” character adds so much more to Reeves’ character. The people in charge of the movie went by the adage of “less is more” and made it work. Eastwood has played other roles where he’s pretty stoic. But he’s always shown a willingness to adapt within a movie’s plot or outline. This definitely can be seen in pictures that Eastwood directs himself.