Whenever each movie in the John Wick franchise comes out, you always know there is going to be insane action set pieces, violent deaths in all manner of ways and some scene-stealing dogs. Sometimes, a scene even comes along that features all three aspects, like the absurdly awesome Paris sequence in John Wick: Chapter 4 that sees Keanu Reeves’ titular assassin make his way through busy streets, national monuments, a dilapidated home and the longest set of stairs outside of an M.C. Escher drawing.
But the most ridiculous aspect of that sequence doesn’t include John Wick or Bill Skarsgård’s Marquis Vincent Bisset de Gramont, but it does involve dog pee, bullet holes and Marko Zaror’s Chidi, and a great story from director Chad Stahelski.
I recently had a chance to catch up with Stahelski for a chat that covered everything from his Highlander reboot to the latest on his Ghost of Tsushima movie, and so much about the John Wick universe. When I asked about certain scenes that proved to be more difficult than expected, the stuntman-turned-director opened up about the challenge of working with dogs on set, especially when he’s trying to get Mr. Nobody’s (Shamier Anderson) Belgian Malinois to pee on Chidi’s dead body:
At the end of the day when you get a cool gag with it, when I can get a female dog to lift her leg and pee on my bad guy's head, they're like, that's a good day. To Marko’s credit, Marko’s like, ‘Yeah, that sounds cool, pee in my bullet hole.’ I’m like, ‘All right, buddy, thanks man.’ It’s good to know my cast is on board.
This answer, specifically the “pee in my bullet hole” part, brought the interview to a brief pause as I attempted to figure out how to go from there. Luckily, Stahelski quickly joked about it following a beat:
Don’t know how to say that? I had that moment, too. I don’t know what to say to that. He’s got a very thick Chilean accent, so it sounds even better when he says it.
Stahelski also revealed that for whatever reason, animals and weather have always been the trickiest things to work out when making his movies, describing them as the “bane of our existence” for the production crew. But when the “cool gag” works, it makes it all the more better.
From the beginning, Stahelski knew the Paris sequence, specifically the section where John Wick has to fight an endless swarm of gunmen at the Arc de Triomphe, would be a major challenge to overcome. With cars driving in and out of multiple lanes of traffic and a number of other factors, the planning process for this sequence required the director and his team to consider the logistics, the methodical aspects of it and the cleverness of the stunts. But no surprise here, it all worked and gave audiences one of the franchise’s best set pieces.
We still don’t know what the future holds for John Wick 5, but if Chad Stahelski, Keanu Reeves and company are able to figure it out, we’re surely in store for more dogs, bullet holes and, quite possibly, dog pee in bullet holes.