Monday, February 4, 2019

Interview with Keanu Reeves’s stunt double in The Matrix, who became the director of the John Wick movies

Vulture:

How did you first get the job for The Matrix?

Way back in 1996, the Wachowskis and Yuen Woo-Ping, the fight choreographer, were doing a casting search in Australia, China, Canada, and the U.S. to find a martial-arts stunt double for Keanu. At the time, martial arts weren’t that big in big-budget features. It was considered more of a low-budget, chop-socky kind of thing. Most of the fights at the time were single-gun battle stuff, or Arnold Schwarzenegger pummeling you to death with his hands. It was a very different action-design fight era. I was working on a TV show called Pretender at the time. And I had to do a car hit in the morning. So I got hit by a car, cracked my head open, and managed to make an 11 a.m. audition in Burbank from Pasadena. I was still bleeding when I got there. First, they wanted to know if I was homeless — I still had blood on my T-shirt

...

I had to do a thing where I cartwheel over to an M16 rifle, pick it up with one hand, and then Keanu shoots and goes into the fight or whatever. I remember the setup was a day turnover, so you get one take, and it takes a day to reset, and then you do the second take. I had barely met anybody on set at this point. I’m in the getup, and I’m getting ready to go, and I remember producer Joel Silver walking over to me — I had never met the man before in my life — looking me right in the eye and saying, “Don’t fuck this up.” Basically, don’t miss. And he gave me that little stare. He’s a very intense person. And I was like, Okay. Don’t miss gun. They said there’d be a lot of debris, so I just practiced doing the flip with my eyes closed. And I swear to you, as soon as they yelled action, the first squib went off, and I couldn’t see shit. I just threw myself in there and magically found the gun and grabbed it. I was only 25 and I was like, Don’t miss gun. Don’t miss gun. Don’t miss gun.