Why Keanu Reeves Wanted Less Dialogue in ‘John Wick’

John Wick actor Keanu Reeves has a very particular way of working. He has over 100 acting credits to his name, but his career went through ups and downs. When John Wick came along, writer Derek Kolstad explained precisely what it was like working with Reeves. It turns out that he prefers to have less dialogue to prioritize another aspect of his acting abilities.

Keanu Reeves had a resurgence with ‘John Wick’

'John Wick' actor Keanu Reeves wearing a black suit holding his hand up while talking
Keanu Reeves | YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP via Getty Images

Before heading into John Wick, Reeves was attached to a series of commercial failures. The actor is closely associated with the Matrix franchise, but movies such as 47 Ronin made it difficult for the actor to once again connect with moviegoing audiences.

Nevertheless, John Wick allowed Reeves to experience a resurgence. He played a retired hitman seeking revenge after criminals murdered his dog and stole his car. However, this journey ultimately puts him on a path where he will never be able to stop looking over his shoulder. Reeves would find himself involved in the John Wick universe that expanded far past the single movie.

Keanu Reeves wanted to have less dialogue in ‘John Wick’

Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman’s They Shouldn’t Have Killed His Dog explored the John Wick adventure that Reeves went on. Kolstad had a unique perspective working with the actor, who has a very particular way of working. Reeves is a very hands-on actor, who digs deep into several aspects of his character. As a result, he prefers roles that don’t have much dialogue.

“Keanu and Bob Odenkirk, who starred in Nobody, are among the few actors who, when you work with them on a screenplay, they’re more in tune with everything that they’re not saying and doing than what they are,” Kolstad said. “So they don’t want more dialogue, they want less. They want more character and for it to be truly unspoken. When I go through notes with Keanu, it’s equal across the board: he has an opinion on every page. And he’s been doing it so long and so right that you’re kind of like, ‘That’s better. F***, that’s better.'”

The franchise continues to expand the scope and scale

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‘John Wick’ Was Written for 75-Year-Old Before Keanu Reeves Joined

Reeves starred in three John Wick movies thus far. However, the hitman’s journey is far from over. Distributor Lionsgate got a taste of the action film’s success, giving the green light for the franchise to keep going. Reeves will return for John Wick 4 and 5, set to hit theaters in the future. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic greatly affected its delay.

A television series called The Continental is also planned for the future to further expand upon the universe. A prequel starring Ana de Armas titled Ballerina is also set to tell another original story in this world.

Reeves has one of the most popular modern action franchises in John Wick. He certainly mastered the ability to say volumes with few words. However, these action flicks allow him to speak more with wild stuntwork than ever before.