An early fight scene in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum (out Friday) takes place at the New York Public Library and finds Keanu Reeves’ titular hitman facing off against another assassin, played by NBA star Boban Marjanović. How did director Chad Stahelski come to cast the basketball-player in his action threequel? The answer lies with Stahelski’s fondness for the James Bond franchise and, in particular, the character of the villainous, metal-toothed Jaws, who was portrayed by Richard Kiel in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979’s Moonraker.
“I’m a big fan of finding really interesting people and performers and to train them in the martial arts,” says Stahelski. “We have a very good company, 87/eleven, that specializes in martial arts choreography and training cast members to do stuff. So, I’m a big fan of the old James Bonds, like Moonraker, where you had the character Jaws, who was like seven feet, had the metal mouth. We wanted to do a little ode to that, so we were like, Okay, who do we find? And our producer, Basil Iwanyk, was like, ‘Hey, I know this guy in the NBA, he’s got the biggest hands in the NBA. So, we’re like, ‘F— it, we’ll call him up.’ And he was interested. We were like, ‘Do you want to come in, play a part?’ He’s never acted before, but he’d been in all these commercials in Serbia. And he was kind of funny! And we’re like, ‘Alright, well he fits, let’s see what we can do with him.’ So, we brought him out to New York, and let the stunt guys work with him, and we saw what we could do.”
“Number three starts literally a minute after the second film ends,” Stahelski tells EW. “It’s John Wick trying to get out of New York City and find some way out of the box he’s gotten himself into. The first part of the film is John Wick escaping New York and trying to line up the assets he’ll need to find a way out of the problem he’s in.”
Watch the trailer for John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, above.