You may recognise Asia Kate Dillon from Orange Is the New Black or Billions, now they’re telling the big screen what’s what in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. STACK recently chatted with them about the experience, and their no-nonsense character, The Adjudicator.
Were you into the John Wick movies before this role came up?
I was super into them, yeah. Back in 2015 I got an email from my mom, telling me that she was excited about this new movie, John Wick, with one of our favourites, Keanu Reeves. So, my mom turned me onto the John Wick franchise, actually! I loved the first two movies, and after the first one – which I thought was so fun and so good and the action’s so incredible – I hoped the second one would live up to and surpass the first one, and then it did. So, being a part of a film franchise that not only has been so wonderfully embraced by the fans, but was one that I was a fan of, is awesome!
Do you know if the producers/writers had you in mind when the character of The Adjudicator was created?
When I was finishing filming Billions last March in New York, we were all talking to each other about what projects we had in the works, and I said, ‘Well I know that John Wick 3 is filming in New York this summer, and I should be in that movie’. Fast forward two months to the beginning of May of last year and my manager calls me saying, ‘Chad Stahelski, the director of John Wick 3, wants to see me because they have this role The Adjudicator, and they’ve been going back and forth trying to cast it and haven’t found the right person. Basically it was presented it to me as if it was my role to turn down, which was incredible! So I went to meet Chad, and he was so intelligent and well-spoken, and was able to so clearly communicate his and Keanu’s vision for the third film and the role of The Adjudicator, that I said ‘Yes’ right there in that meeting before even reading the script. Then I met Keanu the next day, and we talked a little bit more about his vision for The Adjudicator, because Keanu’s the one who actually came up with the character, and then everyone at Lionsgate said, ‘Welcome to the John Wick family’.
How did you feel when reading the script for the first time?
I was sitting in my living room, my sweetheart was sitting across from me dutifully working on their computer, and I was yelling and screaming and clapping and laughing! On the page, you’re reading, ‘…and then John Wick gets on a horse and rides down the streets of Manhattan,’ and it just – I mean, I was truly like ‘Holy sh-t!’ and clapping and cheering. I mean, what was on the page was stunning, and I knew that even if they could remotely bring some of what was on the page to the screen that it would just elevate the action genre to the next level… and it has.
Was the step from TV to an established action movie franchise at all daunting?
Honestly, it wasn’t daunting. I think it could certainly have been a very daunting and intimidating experience if Chad and/or Keanu and/or the producers had any type of ego, or any type of, ‘Listen, you get to be in this movie, but you’ve really got to live up to our expectations’ or whatever they could have said to me to be intimidating. But really it’s incredible that everyone was like, ‘Thank you so much for being in this movie, we’re so excited to have you’ – like Laurence and Keanu and Angelica and everyone are so excited to work with you. So, it really just felt like Chad and Keanu and Lionsgate helped level the playing field so that what could have been a really intimidating experience to me was so fun.
So, Keanu really is a cool guy?
He’s truly the best. He’s so kind and gracious and humble and grounded and funny and intelligent – I mean he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. He’s also a consummate professional and an incredibly talented actor. I was just at his hand and footprint ceremony at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood – I mean he’s done over 100 films over the course of 40 years – and so getting to act with him, and also watch him do some of the action sequences live when I was on set, was just so inspiring and humbling.
“…it’s super-cool to play a character whose job is to come in and intimidate everyone”
We often think of the criminal underworld as being quite anarchic, yet in the universe of John Wick and the High Table it’s actually quite the opposite – there are distinct rules, and every action has a consequence. How did it feel to be the one enforcing these?
Oh gosh, it’s cool! I mean it’s super-cool to play a character whose job is to come in and intimidate everyone, but in a very sort of no-nonsense way. Everyone knows the rules, and they know that if they break the rules there are going to be consequences. So, although The Adjudicator is a multidimensional human being with a full emotional life, their job is very straightforward. I think it’s only towards the end of the film that we start to see what a potential threat it is if John Wick gets away with breaking the rules, and what the ramifications of that could be.
Does any particular highlight from working on the movie stand out?
It’s really hard to compare, because every scene I was in was pretty epic, fortunately for me. There is the theatre that we shot in with Angelica Huston and the American Ballet Company, that’s a theatre up on 175th Street in Washington Heights. The inside of it is very similar to the Kings Theater, which is in Brooklyn, only to say that it is stunningly beautiful inside and being there and watching the American Ballet Company do their takes over and over again, getting to watch them dance, was just stunning. I felt really privileged to be there and to be able to witness them doing that.
We have to ask, are you a dog person or a cat person?
Oh gosh! The honest answer is I had cats growing up my whole life. I love animals and I currently have a 13-year-old cat named Eugene, and I have a puppy named Herbert who just turned one. So, I love all animals, and I’m currently both a cat and dog person!
John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is now showing in Australian cinemas. Check out our review here.