Chapter 4 Stunt Coordinators On The Violent Ballet Of The Movie’s Epic Fight Scenes [Exclusive Interview]

Got it. And I wanted to hear how you worked on pulling the stair sequence together in terms of the choreography of the fights, and then when he gets to the top, that long, long roll down the stairs.

Dunlevy: Well, just sitting at the bottom of those stairs — have you been to the stairs in Monmartre, in France?

No, unfortunately not.

Dunlevy: If you ever get a chance, you should go walk up them — it’s a long way up when you’re standing there. And Chad’s like, “Okay, so this is the sequence, this is what I want to do — he goes all the way up and then he gets kicked down.” Thankfully there’s levels. So you just take each level, obviously, at a time. You’ve got to break it up each stunt. With anything we’re doing, we’re breaking up sections at a time. So we take each level and you build up on top of those levels like a pyramid. And then we had the amazing Vincent Bouillon, our John Wick double, who did that fall all the way down. When you are looking at all that, I think he fell for about two days straight with the different shots in that sequence.

You want to make sure that he can get up after each time. What’s paramount, when we’re designing a stunt, Scott and I, is obviously our performer’s safety because we’ve both been performers and we’ve both been hurt and things like that. So we want everyone to go home with maybe a few bruises, a few scrapes, that’s just part of the job. But it’s making sure we can get up and go again. So when we’re doing that, we’re talking with the visual effects team about how we can do that safely and design those stunts safely.

Thankfully, with the integration of pads these days — we’ve got gels that allow us to have smaller pads that protect us more and things like that. Then obviously John Wick goes up and he fights a bunch of guys, Marco [Zaror] kicks him down, and then you have Donnie Yen. We introduced Donnie Yen into that, which is a whole other element of getting to work with Keanu and Donnie, both of them going up the staircase together. We had an amazing fight team. Jeremy Marinas, who truly came up under Chad Stahelski, who was our fight choreographer, he and the team did an amazing job at integrating all those different aspects of the fights all the way through that stair sequence.

You mentioned two days for the fall down. How far did the stunt person go? It wasn’t all the way down in one shot, was it?

Rogers: Well, I think there were two sections at the end because there’s a shot of a camera leading him and he fell the length of that camera because we couldn’t run it longer.

Oh my God.

Rogers: So I think there were two sections of stairs in reality that the camera didn’t go down, so he didn’t go down those parts. But the full length that you see in the shot, he did four times.

That’s amazing.

Rogers: It was one of the most impressive days of a performer I’ve ever seen in my 32-year career.

I can’t believe he did that more than once, either. That’s amazing.

Dunlevy: It’s not just like we throw someone into a position or anything like that. You’re gauging your performers as stunt performers and what they can do in their capabilities. You never want to put someone in a role that’s beyond their capability. You always want to have a margin of error. And Scott, you’ve done stair falls, I’ve done stair falls — you can lose your perspective of where you are. Not once did Vincent go beyond his ability. He knew exactly where he was on that stair fall. He was in control the whole time, but he went down and he was a master at it. I’ve never actually seen someone ride the stairs that well before for so far and so long.

It definitely comes across — I’m shocked that was one whole scene going straight. Amazing.

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