The titular assassin of the upcoming John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum is a force of nature. Through the past two movies, he’s plowed through all manner of low-level thugs, assassins, and bosses of assassins. But there’s one thing that can stop John Wick in his tracks: cats. It’s well known that Keanu Reeves’ John Wick is a dog lover — the loss of his adorable puppy is what set him off on this three-film spanning blood-soaked path. But in John Wick 3 cats are what get the best of him, in an action sequence that was nearly derailed by stray cats, director Chad Stahelski revealed.
The sequence in which the dogs owned by Halle Berry‘s Sofia get to take a bite of the action is being lauded as one of the best fight scenes in the John Wick franchise to date. But it nearly didn’t happen thanks to an army of cats that descended upon the set in the Moroccan town of Essaouira.
“The Moroccans are not big on canines. Love a f—ing cat, though,” Stahelski described to Entertainment Weekly. “There had to be thousands.”
When Stahelski and his team had gone to Essaouira in the winter to scout the location for this big action sequence, the cats “weren’t that prevalent.” But when they began to shoot the scene, which prominently features the two Belgian Malinois dogs trained by Sofia to kill on command, the cats came out in droves. “We had to build massive walls of cages,” Stahelski said. “They’re just stray cats, but we want to be good handlers. So, we built little cat houses, put them in, had to feed them. We had walls of cats… The amount of f—ing cat food — we were probably feeding more cats than people on set.”
But despite their efforts to appease the local stray cats wandering onto set, they couldn’t control how the dogs would react to the hundreds of cats suddenly in their vicinity. “What do Belgian Malinois love to chase? F—ing cats!” Stahelski said, launching into a colorful description of the chaos that descended:
“While Keanu Reeves is killing ten guys over there, Halle is killing ten guys over here, and [there is the] stunt guy the dog’s got to focus on. You want that dog focused on what he’s supposed to bite, and what he’s not supposed to bite. Hit the mark, right? And there’s ten cats walking around and you’re going, ‘Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus.’ You’re sitting behind the monitor going, ‘What’s the dog looking at? What’s the dog looking at? Oh my god oh my god, he’s going to bite — Argh!’ It got a little crazy between cat-wrangling, and dog-wrangling, and people-wrangling. And you’ve got the studio back [in America] going, ‘Why are you a little behind? Just get the dog to do [it].’ And you’re like, I don’t speak dog. If I did I’d be f—ing rich! Anyway, that was kind of fun.”
“It was kind of chaos,” added Berry, who had a vested interest because of the part she took in helping to train the dogs. “Because, you have dogs running around, you have Keanu, we have all these guys coming from every different direction. It was totally chaotic and then we had these cats running through our set. It was often hard to keep the dogs focused, because they’d see a cat and off they’d go, and sometimes that could ruin a whole great take.”
But thankfully, the cast and crew were finally able to defeat the cats and film one of the most jaw-dropping, back-breaking setpieces to grace the John Wick franchise. You can soon see it for yourself when John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum hits theaters on May 17, 2019. Keep an eye out on the background for stray cats.
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