The sudden death of actor Lance Reddick at the age of 60 came as a shock to his fans and friends alike. But it was especially shocking to his fellow cast members and crew John Wick: Chapter 4, who got the news while still preparing for the film’s imminent release. In an interview with Polygon, Chad Stahelski, who directed Reddick in all four John Wick films, describes the impact of hearing the news while on tour promoting the new film.
“We’re all lined up on the red carpet to get in[at the LA premiere],” said Stahelski. “You want to give everyone a high-five and say, ‘Thank you so much for giving up a year in your life!’ And then we find out Lance had died It just crushes you.
When asked about a particularly memorable moment on set with Reddick, Stahelski laughed. “How do you choose a moment after 10 years with a guy who has his DNA in the entire franchise that you built from the ground up?” he asked. “He’s part of the heart of the Wick. You walk into that hotel and see Lance at that front desk – what could be more iconic of John Wick?
Stahelski remembers Reddick as a particularly cheerful presence on the John Wick set. “Lance had a personality that was literally contagious,” he said. “For example, you could hear Lance laughing over a soundstage. He was just a super positive guy. I don’t know everything about Lance’s career, but I do know that he always had to fight, he always had to work from all sides to get where he was. I think that’s most of the John Wick cast – they all come from a very humble ‘We work for a living’ upbringing. And to be so positive about it, and to be so ultimately happy doing what you love – that’s Lance in a nutshell. That guy comes on set and he’s here to work, and he’s awesome. He couldn’t be happier. For example, he is one of the happiest boys, and that is contagious.
As Charon, the unmoving chilly janitor at the killer hotel The Continental in the John Wick movies, Reddick represented the luxury, competence, and coldness of Stahelski’s world. It was a typically authoritative role for Reddick, who tended to embody powerful figures, from principled police lieutenant Cedric Daniels to The wire to Commander Zavala Lot 2 to the terrifying dragon Thordak in the animated series Critical Role The legend of Vox Machina. But Charon was one of his most visible and signature roles, and Stahelski says working with him on the John Wick movies was an education.
“I wish you could rotate the camera for half the scenes John Wick 4 and watch Lance and Ian McShane talk before the taping,” Stahelski said. “It’s magic. You just get addicted to it. You can’t help but want to go there and hang out. I was a director for the first time (on John Wick), no matter how many second units I had done. It’s a big deal making your first movie and you think you know it all. You have that confidence of arrogance. But then you realize you don’t know what you’re doing and you think ‘I need a little help’.”
Stahelski says some of that help came from Reddick’s confident choices about Charon — Reddick chose the character’s accent, personality and body language, telling Stahelski he wanted to play him as “very zen,” with an attitude “like the Oscar statue.
“I was in a unique position where I was mentored by the people I worked with,” Stahelski said. “If you can imagine going from a scene with Keanu Reeves to a scene with Lance Reddick, going to a scene with Ian McShane and going to a scene with Willem Dafoe – I mean come on. It’s like going to film school while I’m directing, at the same time.”