With John Wick: Chapter 4 finally out in theaters and enjoying immense - and well-deserved - box office success across the globe, we were recently able to catch up with actress Natalia Tena (Harry Potter; Game of Thrones) to talk about joining the franchise as the alluring Katia, who has a very unique connection to the titular Baba Yaga (Keanu Reeves).
Katia is revealed as John's adoptive sister, who is now running the Ruska Roma syndicate in Berlin, and someone that John needs to make amends with in order to rejoin the family he cut ties with in the previous installment. She does ultimately choose to help him, but not before he does something for her: avenge her father's murder by eliminating the High Table senior Killa Harkan (Scott Adkins). He agrees and then, we get another one of the film's many inventive action sequences.
Speaking with the English/Spanish actress, we learned more about her casting process, her excitement to join this storied franchise, working with the one-and-only Keanu Reeves, crafting her character's backstory, whether she'd be down for future adventures, her interesting weapon choice, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full video interview below and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my channel!
ROHAN: This is such an awesome movie, what did it mean to you to join this franchise?
NATALIA: I couldn't believe my luck. I just thought it was bonkers. Also, I didn't even audition. I mean, I had a meeting, you know, my agent was like, look, so the director Chad of the John Wick films, like do you like them? I was like, Are you joking? I absolutely love them. I think I rewatched all of them in the pandemic, before I got this audition. It's just one of those, we were all watching so many things stuck at home, and when I was meeting with Chad, who is just such an amazing force of nature, such energy and kindness, and I did a Zoom chat like this, and in the background, he had all these spotlight pictures of actors, and he's like, Nat, hi!
And I didn't really know if this was an audition or not, because there were no sides. I didn't have anything to learn and it was like, okay, so this is a meeting, okay. He’s like, Nat, look, can you see your face? And I was like, yes. What he does is he puts up kind of spotlight pictures of actors that he wants to work with at some point, or that Keanu or both, you know, and he just liked me from some other stuff that I'd done, and he was like, I think you should be this person. Would you do it? And, I was like, I would absolutely love to, are you joking? But, I left the meeting not really knowing if I'd got the job or not, and then like a month later, they're like, yeah, you're doing it, obviously. Can you speak Russian? I was like, I'll learn Russian. I mean, as an actor, you're like, I will do anything for a good job. I'll do anything.
ROHAN: Most people that meet John Wick try to kill him, but, you're playing his adoptive sister, and get to have a different relationship with him. What was it like working with Keanu Reeves?
NATALIA: Such a lovely man, very approachable. Luckily, Chad had made enough time, and he didn't need to do this. I was just welcomed with such open arms and really welcomed into this family, even as a minor character, like as if I was the new lead. It was just so much love. And the director really took his time and Keanu and me and the writer sat and had a readthrough, so we really went through it and we kind of discussed maybe what their relationship actually is.
And I started it off, so I was in the first two weeks of filming, which was really fun. Everyone kind of had that beginning of film energy, which is great. Sometimes towards the end of them, everyone's exhausted. I know that they do everything, night shoots, all our stuff was night shoots as well, and I think after five months of doing night shoots, everyone's a bit frazzled and going a bit crazy. So, it was quite nice to be there at the beginning.
ROHAN: What kind of backstory did you and Chad create for Katia and her relationship with John?
NATALIA: So, we kind of had this idea. We were wondering whether she's his niece, or his cousin, but I don't think she's seen him for a while. Because, you know, he does say like, you know, you've grown up and I'm like, Yeah, you look old now. So, I think maybe the last time they really saw each other was maybe 20 years ago, and, you know, some weird kind of Roma Christmas gathering and all that kind of underworld. But I think maybe at that point, she still seemed like a little girl, and if he was dealing with someone, he'd be dealing with my father, who was the kind of leader of that clan. But obviously, he has been killed. So I've taken over.
ROHAN: Since your appearance comes at a pivotal point in the film, was there anything you shot that ended up being cut?
NATALIA: No, no, no, I think everything we did was exactly as it was meant to be, and I think Chad does this. I spoke to Chad about, you know, the car bit in Paris, and I was just like, what is happening?! It was so incredible and enormous, that I actually started laughing the first time I watched, I cannot believe that, what are they doing with all the cars? So, Chad said that it took him five months to plan and prepare that, and actually, I think it only took a couple of weeks to actually film that, which is a miracle, frankly. So, I think with him, he's got everything pre-planned and organized because we've got so much to get through. So, we didn't really play around with what was there. We just did it.
ROHAN: Knowing how detail-oriented Chad is, as a director, what was your preparation like? Was there much rehearsal for your scenes?
NATALIA: There was a readthrough, which was great. So, that really, really helps. Sometimes you don't even get that. I mean, literally I've done on films, where you literally just turn up on the day, and you just have to do it and you don't know anyone. This was very different because I got there a few days before, and I'm so lucky that I was able to do this job because I've got a Spanish passport, not a British one, I'm Spanish. And actually, at the time, they weren't letting in any British citizens into Berlin, so I could have lost the job, but I actually went to Spain and I had to do 10 days of quarantine in Madrid, where my family are anyway, so I was in a hotel, I saw them minimally because of COVID. I don't want to get COVID in there, you know what I mean? Everything would have been terrible.
So, in those 10 days, I spent a lot of time with the Russian tutor that they got me. So, I was in that universe. Because, I mean, she not only speaks Russian, she has a Russian accent, and I really wanted to get that right, because I think that's that's kind of where I entered the character is her voice.
ROHAN: You previously joined the Harry Potter films in the middle of the series and now, you've joined John Wick in its fourth installment. What is it like coming in midway, did you find it intimidating at all?
NATALIA: It wasn't intimidating. Obviously. Tonight's the premiere, right of the John Wick in LA, and it's the same kind of feeling you get before a premiere, like the first day of filming, it's the first day of school feeling, you know, like, nervous, but really excited, but you don't sleep the night before, and on the first day, you don't eat much, you're kind of just like, blah, so yeah, there's always that feeling. It doesn't matter what the job is, it can be a small indie film, it can be a play, it can be a film, it doesn't really matter.
But also, I think what made me feel comfortable is how they talk to me, like Chad took me around, showed me around, introduced me to everyone. I met the dogs, I met the stunt team, and then there was a kind of crew/cast drinks on the top of some roof. So, I got to actually speak to a few people, some of the stunt teams and ask them some questions, because I love the John Wick franchise, and I wanted to know, how long does this take? How long does that take? So, I felt like I was very welcomed, and it was fine.
ROHAN: Since Katia is still very much alive at the end of this film, running the Ruska Roma, and with projects like Ballerina and The Continental on the way, would you be open to reprising the role in a potential Chapter 5 or maybe another spin-off?
NATALIA: I mean, I would 100% say yes to that job, Rohan, like 100%. I would love to do some more stunts, because I didn't do any stunts on this one, so I'd love to actually do some stunts as her so you can see a bit of what her weapon language is. That's what I love about John Wick, especially about this one, that I love is that each scene and fight has its own flavor. And, you know, one of them is like the knives and the crossbows. The other one is a hatchet. Then, there’s the cars, and I'd love to know what Katia’s weapon is and language is when she fights.. That'd be great to explore.
ROHAN: Speaking of weapons, what do you think Katia's weapon of choice or fighting style would be?
NATALIA: She definitely has an army. I mean, she's very much someone that delegates. She's a very good delegator. So, maybe she'd - I'd love to have dogs like Halle Berry, but obviously, that's been done. So, I think they'd have to find something… You know what? Maybe she'd have a leopard, one massive cat, or a jaguar or something that she kind of pulls out every once in a while.
ROHAN: Since we've both seen the film - and that you're a massive fan of these films as well - what were your thoughts on the ending?
NATALIA: When I saw the ending of the film… Well, actually, I was a bit surprised because I read in a past script, a bit of a different ending, and so, when I went to see it, I was like, oh, okay, it ends there, okay, cool. Because actually, the one I read, there was what happened at the end of this one, and then there was a little bit extra, but I don't know whether I should say, or maybe it'll be in the Director's Cut. I'll leave it there. But, yeath, I wasn't expecting that ending. I was really, really - it was kind of sad, but it’s a good full stop. It's a good way to end.
John Wick (Keanu Reeves) uncovers a path to defeating the High Table. But before he can earn his freedom, Wick must face off against a new enemy with powerful alliances across the globe and forces that turn old friends into foes.