Los Angeles – We were pleasantly surprised to see a familiar face in Keanu Reeves’ latest installment to his hit action-thriller “John Wick” franchise – Fil-Am actor-martial artist Mark Dacascos.
Portraying the lead villain Zero in “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum,” Mark enjoys a lot of screen time with Keanu as he battles him in their well-choreographed breathtaking fight scenes.
Asked how he got the role, Mark, 55, whose father is Al Dacascos, a martial arts instructor from Hawaii, revealed, “I met (the director) Chad (Stahelski) a few months before we actually started shooting and we had a very good meeting which lasted around two hours. He told me what he wanted to do in ‘John Wick 3’ – virtual reality and he put these goggles on. When I left the meeting he told me that they already had the lead villain cast but he wanted me as a featured character possibly in Morocco.
“Cut two to three months later, I got a text on Sunday from Chad and he asked me to call him first thing in the morning. I called him back and asked him how I could help him and he said that some things have changed. He said, ‘I would like you to go from featured villain to lead villain (Zero). I said, ‘Yes, I love it. I am honored. Let us make this happen.’ I asked him, ‘When do you need me?’ And he said, ‘Tonight.’ So that night, I flew to New York from L.A. And my first shoot was with the lovely and talented Asia Kate Dillon and Laurence Fishburne. When Laurence Fishburne saw me, he addressed me as ‘Chairman’ since we met at the ‘Iron Chef America.’”
As for working with Keanu, Mark disclosed, “I have heard so many great things about him and they are all true. He is kind, hardworking, and dedicated. He is collaborative, obviously super talented, and we all know he is good looking. Since he portrays John Wick, he has the most difficult schedule of all. But he also works during his days off and the man just gives his all. He shoots from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. doing intense fight scenes. He is always there and very present and giving. Between Chad and Keanu, they have given me and the cast a very safe environment to explore the characters.”
As for the very quiet and private Keanu, he has nothing but praise for Mark when we talked to him recently in New York. He said, “Mark is a really lovely person and a fantastic artist. He brought a lot to the role. Chad Stahelski, the director, had this idea of having ninjas in the film and this character who would be the kind of master, the lead of them. Mark came in and had a lot of ideas for the character and brought that whole idea of being a fan of John Wick’s, like when he sits next to him and he’s like I am such a fan! He also brought that kind of dichotomy into the character, that idea that you can be a fan boy, but also be a master of death. So that was all of his and it was fantastic. He was really a pleasure to work with and as a martial artist and a movie action performer, he is super high hand. And it was really great to work with someone, an expert, because they can help you look good.”
Keanu, whom we caught meditating on a chair in a different room prior to our interview, revealed that he doesn’t meditate regularly but “I fall into it once in a while” then added, “but I recommend it for everyone.”
Although he is considered an action star in the Hollywood celluloid, Keanu confessed that he does not have any martial arts background. “I don’t have a martial arts background,” he admitted. “I just know movie fighting. So ‘John Wick,’ all the people who trained me and the choreography, there’s a lot of styles going on. People who can see them, they will be like oh my gosh, he just did that or what was that throw?’ So yeah, there is a lot in there.”
Had he ever screamed for help, we asked.
“Whether you are a believer in it or not, you generally have to help yourself and it’s also great if you can have help. I have only yelled help once in my life,” he pointed out. “I had a motorcycle accident and it was in Topanga Canyon. It was at night, and I yelled for help. Out of the darkness, someone basically yelled, help is on the way! Then I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance coming down a hill. So thank you for that. But I never met them.”
Since most of his movies are dominated with physical activity, we wondered what his relationship was to verbal versus physical expression.
“I don’t really have an ambition or a drive,” he said. “I really just play roles that I get to play the best I can. Yeah, I guess I have been described as performances that don’t speak a lot. John Wick, he doesn’t need a soliloquy, he certainly has some moments. I don’t know.”
Then he added, “Did you see ‘Destination Wedding?’ I did some talking in that.”