John Wick: Chapter 4 is currently setting the box office ablaze, and ahead of its hotly awaited debut, we were able to catch up with Chilean martial artist and actor Marko Zaror (Alita: Battle Angel; Machete Kills) to talk about his pivotal role as Chidi in the Chad Stahelski-directed blockbuster.
Throughout the film, Chidi is Marquis Vincent de Gramont's (Bill Skarsgård) right-hand man and leads several attacks against the titular John Wick (Keanu Reeves) and his many allies throughout the film, including the opening Osaka Continental fight, the insane Arc de Triomphe sequence, and, of course, the wild stair sequence on the way to the climactic duel at the Sacré-Cœur.
Zaror was generous enough to share stories of the team's immense preparation for each and every moment in the film, what it was like to work with Keanu Reeves, being able to learn from fellow martial artists Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada, more about Chidi's backstory, whether he'd be down for another film, and a whole lot more!
Check out the full video interview below and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my channel!
ROHAN: As an experienced martial artist yourself, what did it mean to you to be able to join this franchise and make your mark in the world of John Wick?
MARKO: What can I say, it's hard to explain, man, it's hard to express what it feels like to be part of this, you know, as a martial artist, growing up and dreaming with all these movies and seeing the evolution of the industry in the martial arts world, and now having Chad, who is an actual real martial artist, directing, for me, the biggest ever franchise in the Hollywood industry that combines and grafts martial arts and action into this big, big movie.
It's amazing. It's just something that is hard for me to express my gratitude of how I feel of being part of this. It's very powerful, it's very powerful, man. I’ve wanted to something like this since I was six, I've been my whole life dreaming about this.
ROHAN: I know Chad Stahelski is extremely well-prepared and extremely detail-oriented, can you tell me more about the preparation that went into your scenes? How many weeks of rehearsals?
MARKO: Yeah, as soon as I landed in Berlin, we started rehearsing and trying things and I connected straight with Jeremy Marinas, who was in charge of all the fighting, to kind of get to know my movements, work with the team and try things and all that and create a library of things. Because then, in this case, the movie was very dynamic, and things were changing all the time in terms of the scenes and the fighting, and the action.
It was very intense, but, for me, as a martial artist, I see this movie as my Olympic Games, so I trained myself like I'm going to compete in the Olympic Games, prior to whatever movie I'm training, I try to stay the whole year very ready at my 70% or 80%, so then when I get a movie, I just tweak nutrition, and my training to be ready to be at my 100%, because these type of action sequences require you to be at your optimal physical condition.
So, yeah, and I will say every scene had a challenge, man, every scene had a challenge for sure. And, of course, towards the end, the stair scene or the car scene, they were very intense, very intense.
ROHAN: What was it like working with John Wick himself, Keanu Reeves?
MARKO: He’s such an inspiration, man. To be honest, I didn't have much knowledge of Keanu’s world or career. I knew, of course, who Keanu was and I was a big fan of Matrix, but I hadn’t connected with him as a human being before. Then working with him, and seeing how humble and how professional and how passionate, he's like a kid, and then Chad is the same thing.
So, you see these two guys, these two friends that they connect through martial arts and this passion to create something cool, to enjoy, to have fun, and that is such an inspiration. That really tells you okay, this is what life is about, just have fun and do what you love to do and put all your passion and, that for me, it's kind of been what leads my journey. I always follow what gives me that passion, and I like to have fun. And when I see these two guys at this level, being that way, it's like, wow, man, it's so inspiring, and he's so professional, man, like Keanu is always - he's like the real John Wick.
He’s John Wick, I mean behind-the-scenes, and he's doing everything, all the car stuff, choreography, the gun loading and reloading, with the speed, everything is real. So, it's like, I'm just watching the movie right now happening. It's not like those movies that they cut together stuff, and then at the end, you're watching the movie and you're like, Oh, my God, this is so different, you didn't see that on set, you see what I'm saying? It’s all VFX and CGI, and blah, blah, blah, right? So, this is real man. What you guys are going to see in this movie - course, you know, they enhanced some stuff here and there, but the essence of what you're seeing is real. It’s real. It's real locations, the beautiful locations, man, everything. Everything, man, the color, it’s just amazing, man, and then seeing him perform, it's just amazing.
And then, as a martial artist, the first time that we interact, right, you don't know. I didn't know, so I'm like arriving very carefully, and we do our first rehearsals. I'm very careful, like, oh, and then they’re like, good, good. Okay. And then, he comes to me and he's goes, you can give me a little more, you can go a little further, and then, later, okay, boom, boom, boom. We start getting going and the adrenaline started pumping, and then, we're going for it, you know what I'm saying? And he's enjoying that physical contact. He enjoys it, and he's amazing. He’s very cool. I was very lucky to be able to share those moments.
ROHAN: In addition to Keanu and Chad, you're also working closely with legends like Donnie Yen and Hiroyuki Sanada. What was it like being on set with them and being able to learn from them firsthand?
MARKO: Yeah, well, of course, it's like, you need to be like water, man, like Bruce Lee said. You gotta adapt and be very observant. You got these very experienced movie stars, like Donnie Yen, man, Donnie Yen, Hiro Sanada, these guys come from way back. So, of course, me as the younger martial artist and coming up, like, yes, I've been doing martial arts my whole life, and I'm very confident with my level of what I do, but you are in front of legends, man.
So, of course, it's the moment for me to just sit and watch and enjoy how they talk with the director and how they expose their ideas, if they want to change stuff. So, for me, it was a lot of to look and learn, look and observe how Donnie likes to do his style, what he likes, what he doesn't like on-set when he's doing he's fighting. So, yeah, man, for me, and then interacting a little bit with them, because I also interact a little bit with Donnie and with Hiro, it was cool, it was like, I was doing my thing, doing my best, and then, of course, adapt and observe and listen to their feedback, and trying to make it the best, so it's good.
ROHAN: Did you and Chad work on an elaborate backstory for Chidi and his motivations?
MARKO: Oh, yes, yes. For me, now that you’ve seen the movie, that attitude, that kind of arrogance, during that first scene when Donnie arrives and I'm like rolling my eyes. I don't buy into this code of honor of these assassin stars in this world, right? My character thinks like I'm a better fighter, I'm more trained than this guy. So, I'm a little frustrated that the Marquis is not sending me to just make the job and just kill him - and then, remember that scene is like, this is mad, why are you sending a blind man? What I'm trying to tell him is why are you not sending me? I can do this. I'm better than this guy. Let’s do the shortcut here. You're losing your time.
That was my whole struggle through the process. And yeah, Chad kind of liked it and we go for it and I think it plays very cool because little by little you see my character getting more frustrated and losing, losing, and losing and then, when I'm fighting at the end with him, I have this excitement, this adrenaline that I'm really finally going to beat him. But, for some reason, the dog bites me or someone shoots me and I'm about to kill him so many times I'm like, [frick]!
ROHAN: From the moment you started prepping to actually shooting the scene, how long did that stair sequence take to come together?
MARKO: It was a mix of everything, I was there for like six months, doing rehearsal scenes and stuff like that. So, yeah, it's all over. It was a long shoot.
ROHAN: With Ballerina and The Continental on the way and with both expected to be prequels, have you had any thoughts - or discussions - about potentially reprising your role in a future project?
MARKO: I would love to, but it doesn't depend on me. It depends on them, on the writers, but I would love to, man. I think Chidi has so much to do, to tell, and, like you said, Ballerina is happening. I think it's before, that's what I've heard, I don't know if this is official or not, but as you said, so yeah, if there's a chance to play again and have some fun, man, I’m in. It would be awesome, but I just don't have that type of information to share with you. I love the character, and I think there's so much we could do. It's a fun character, he’s this really nice guy that you really hate. He’s that kind of guy. So, it's really cool. It's a lot of fun.
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.