The John Wick prequel series tells the origins of Winston Scott and the iconic hotel chain at the center of the films: the producers explain why they wanted to expand the franchise, despite giving up its most famous “hero” played by Keanu Reeves.
The world of John Wick expands with The Continentala prequel series set in the same universe as the films but which renounces the protagonist par excellence of the franchise, Keanu Reeves. Can such a project work well even without its brightest hero? To the executive producers Erica Lee e Basil Iwanyk, who also admitted that they felt “terrified” at the idea of a series that had to do without it, seemed like a bet worth investing in. On the occasion of the press conference to present The Continental (which debuts tomorrow, September 22ndwith the first episode of three on Prime Video), Lee and Iwanyk explained how the idea for a prequel came about and why they were convinced that a story without Reeves could be equally compelling.
The plot and cast of The Continental
The Continental explores the origins of the iconic assassin’s hotel from the John Wick universe through the eyes of a young Winston Scott (the character played in the films by Ian McShane and here from the actor of The Originals Colin Woodell), dragged into the hell of 1970s New York to face a past he thought he had left behind. Winston’s path will chart a deadly course through the underworld beyond the hotel, in a desperate attempt to take it over and reclaim what will become his throne. The cast also includes, among others, the two-time Oscar winner Mel Gibson e Ayomide Adegu (The Hunger Games: The Rime of the Nightingale and the Serpent) as Charon, initially Cormac’s trusted assistant (in the films he had the face of the late one Lance Reddick). The series is directed by Albert Hughes e Charlotte Brandstrom and is written and developed by Greg Coolidge, Kirk Ward and Shawn Simmons.
Giving Up Keanu Reeves: How The Continental Was Born
Executive producers Erica Lee and Basil Iwanyk revealed to the press that the initial idea for a serial spin-off of John Wick planned for the series to be set in the present day. The goal was to tell the story of one of the many The Continental hotels scattered around the world (in the films we have already seen those in New York, Osaka, Rome and Casablanca). The screenplays, on which several authors had been working for years, had already been written. But then the writers realized there was no way they could make such a story interesting, set in the same timeline as the films but without Keanu Reeves. “It was hard to make it sound interesting. We would have been put in a corner compared to the movies,” Erica Lee observed. In the end, therefore, the choice fell on a prequel that told the evolution of a key character with Winston Scott and which, being set in the 70s, it could have done without John Wick (little more than a child at the time).
A “terrifying” bet
Iwanyk admitted he wondered if a series set in the world of John Wick Without John Wick it could work. But, in the end, he took the plunge. “We thought, ‘Let’s go ahead and do things that we think are interesting, and hopefully people will agree with it.’ This series gave us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone for the first time. And it was invigorating and exhilarating, but also terrifying“, his words. “The series has far exceeded my expectations,” added Erica Lee, who also worked on the first film John Wick. “Whenever you bake something, I always say that the ingredients can be great, but the cake can still taste terrible, right? We were really lucky with Albert (Albert Hughes, one of the directors ndr.) at the helm. He has a very particular vision and is also a fan of the films and loves some aspects of them, but he also wanted to push certain themes and do things his way,” he concluded.
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