The original John Wick was fairly self-contained; although it hinted at a deeper universe of secret societies and god-like assassins, John Wick 1 was ultimately about a dude getting revenge for his dog. But John Wick 2 delved far deeper into the assassin’s world, elaborating on the lore of the Continental Hotels, the High Table, and additional wrinkles like blood markers that symbolize a debt. John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum continues to build on the series’ mythology, and some of the movie’s actors have theories about why fans always want to know more about the world of John Wick.
“The notion of a secret society of assassins that literally has its own hotel chain is fascinating,” Lance Reddick, who plays the New York Continental concierge Charon, told GameSpot. “It’s a story we haven’t seen before.”
Reddick also attributed the series’ success at drawing in hardcore fans to star Keanu Reeves. “I just feel like people identify with Keanu so readily,” Reddick said. “The way his character’s set up and the way that he plays it, it has such a vulnerability to it. And at the same time, you identify with his pain and you want to cheer for him. But by the same token, seeing him being able to do all those fantastical, badass things fulfills people’s fantasies.”
Asia Kate Dillon, who plays a new character called the Adjudicator in John Wick 3, agreed. “You have this man who has gone through a series of devastating losses, and then because he was an assassin, we get to see the way in which he uniquely seeks revenge because of that loss,” Dillon said. “I think as human beings, we can all relate to having lost something or someone that we love.”
But revenge fantasies writ large on the silver screen are nothing new, and John Wick might have simply come and gone if it was set against a simple, real-life backdrop of an assassin working for the mob. But by marrying the tried-and-true emotional experience of watching a relatable character get vengeance with an intriguing criminal underworld unlike anything seen before, John Wick left a lasting mark.
“The exciting thing about the second film and [John Wick 3] is that we just get to go deeper and deeper into the John Wick world,” Dillon said. “It really feels like it’s something that had to have been a graphic novel first, or had to have come from somewhere, but it didn’t. It is all the vision of [director Chad Stahelski] and Keanu.”
Mark Dacascos plays another new character in John Wick 3–Zero, an assassin who looks up to John Wick. Dacascos said he’s just as big a fan of Reeves as Zero is of Wick.
“That was what was so much fun to play. I had even told Keanu while we were shooting…I said to Keanu, ‘It felt so simple, because the way that Zero feels about John Wick is sort of the way that Mark feels about Keanu–I’ve been a fan since Bill & Ted’s,'” Dacascos recalled. “So it was kind of fun just to transfer that energy to the character, you know? Because you see how humble and gracious and grounded [Keanu] is. He’s a pleasure to work with.”
Dacascos also cited the series’ action, which is widely considered to be head and shoulders above most of its contemporaries in the genre. “The hardest part was trying to keep up with Chad and Keanu and 87eleven Action Design,” the actor said. “They set the bar for me for action on-screen, and I have to say it was an honor and a thrill to try to keep up with them. I was challenged, because whatever I could do, Chad and team wanted us to push it–for good reason, I mean, it’s John Wick 3.”
Dacascos and Dillon each cited the series’ diversity–of characters, cultures, genders, action, visual styles, you name it. Dillon, a non-binary actor in real life, was excited to play a non-binary character–the Adjudicator–but that’s just one of the many details that serve to flesh out the series’ many side characters.
“One of the things that was exciting for me as an actor, but also was exciting for me as a fan, is that I know that everything in the movie had a deeper meaning,” Dillon said. For example, the Adjudicator stays in room 217 at the Continental, a number Dillon said is linked to the Achilles myth in Greek mythology.
“Every little detail, whether it’s the coins, or the statues in the Continental lobby, or whatever the drink is at the bar–it’s all symbolic and all has a deeper meaning,” Dillon continued. “And that, to me, is super exciting, because it clearly means someone thought about every little detail, which means I can get fully absorbed into the world.”
Dacascos agreed. “It’s a very sexy world they live in,” he said. “Everything is like this fantasy that you want to be in, in spite of the fact that there’s a lot of violence going on.”
The actor said John Wick’s incredible level of detail comes straight from the series’ director, Stahelski. “He’s so specific,” Dacascos said. “I mean, Chad told me that for every gun, there’s a different sound. He goes that deep and specific with everything. I think that’s why the movies have garnered such a huge fan base–because it’s crossed the line. It’s not just an action movie…philosophically, the story goes as deep as you’re willing to dive.”
But even with all the layers of sensational action and minute world-building, John Wick 3 remains an emotional, human story at its core.
“There are so many elements of this movie that we as fans and people can relate to, because everybody’s lost something,” Dacascos said.
“I’m just continually stunned and impressed by how groundbreaking these films are,” Dillon added.
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum hits theaters May 17. Read our John Wick 3 review to find out what we thought.