How the 'John Wick 3' team and an NBA player pulled off that fight in a library

Josh Rottenberg, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

In his 25-plus years in the film industry, stuntman-turned-director Chad Stahelski has seen every variation of fight sequence imaginable. So with each installment in the "John Wick" action series -- starring Keanu Reeves as a seemingly unkillable hit man who leaves an endless trail of bloodied bodies in his wake -- he has tried to do something fresh and different.

That went triple for the just-released third film, subtitled "Parabellum," which boasts the highest kill count of the franchise so far and some of the most balletic and flat-out bananas fight scenes in recent cinematic history.

"I get asked a lot, 'Do you sit around trying to figure out how to top yourselves?'" Stahelski says. "Honestly that's not even part of the thought process. Keanu and I and my stunt team just get bored very easily. So we try to be non-repetitive in all our work."

In the case of the film's opening fight scene, avoiding repetition meant pitting Wick against a supersized foe -- played by 7-foot-3 NBA center Boban Marjanovic, who plays for the Philadelphia 76ers -- in the unlikeliest of settings: the stacks of the New York Public Library.

Here, Stahelski, stunt coordinator Jojo Eusebio and Marjanovic break down what went into the scene.

Warning: spoilers ahead.



Early in the creative process, as Stahelski, Reeves and the rest of the film's creative team were starting to spitball about where Wick's story could go, Stahelski would wander through New York, looking for ideas.

"I spent a lot of time in the New York Public Library trying to do some work because it's quiet," Stahelski says. "One day, I was down in the stacks and I thought, 'This would be a great place for a fight scene.' "

A simple brawl in the usually hushed stacks of a library wouldn't be quite gonzo enough for the Wick universe, though. So to up the ante, Stahelski and his stunt team struck on the idea of making Wick's opponent a kind of real-life Goliath to his David.


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