Why John Wick’s Key Trigger Was Close to Being Scrapped from the Screenplay

Chad Stahelski, director of John Wick’s John Wick franchise explains the reason why the assassin for Keanu Reeves’ puppy was nearly removed from the film’s original version.

The John Wick filmmakers almost killed the main catalyst in the script his dog.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, John Wick director of the franchise Chad Stahelski was asked whether the Keanu Reeves’ action-thriller from 2014 would have been such a big hit without sacrificing the super-assassin’s beagle puppy. As it turns out, Stahelski as well as producer David Leitch wrestled with the decision to cut off the scene that featured Wick’s dog for the most part. “Killing the puppy was written out numerous times before it was written into the script,” Stahelski said.

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“Ultimately, it’s mythological. It was symbolic, but we had to go overboard. We’re not trying to stifle the authenticity,” the director added. “We would like the viewers to know that we’re having a laugh. You don’t realize how many times Dave and I argued about the issue. We were putting our lives in jeopardy by using credit cards, mortgages, and everything else. The producer Basil Iwanyk put his company up. Then comes that day where you realize you’ve done all this and we’re killing puppies? I thought we would never come back from it.”

John Wick Studio Tried to Save the Dog

The death of Wick’s pup was on the screen since the initial draft of John Wick. Despite the studio’s refusal to accept the dog’s death, Stahelski, Leitch and their screenwriter Derek Kolstad stood firm to stop them from saving the dog. “I believe they wanted to be right in their decision, and so there were instances where the studio ] said “Let’s take the dog away. Let’s focus on the dog as an assassin emerging out of retirement.’ This kind of thing,” Kolstad said.

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The audience members who watched the test eventually responded to the dog’s death exactly the way John Wick filmmakers had hoped for. It was a huge attraction for the studio. “We watched the crowd,” Kolstad said. “As shortly as the dog was killed and watching their reaction and then seeing the siege in home, we thought, yep that’s right.”

Although fans grieved the loss of Wick’s dog, the super-assassin received a second companion in the shape of a pitbull puppy scheduled to be euthanized when the film’s original conclusion came around. He was accompanied by his new companion in the 2017 film John Wick Chapter 2 and 2019’s John Wick Chapter 3 – Parabellum. The pup was so popular with the public that he received his own Funko Pop alongside Wick following the release of Chapter 3.

Check out how the super-assassin along with his dog finally finds peace after John Witt: Chapter 4 arrives in theaters on March 24.

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