Hiroyuki Sanada & Shamier Anderson on Donnie Yen & the Dogs
Mar 23, 2023
The clock is ticking for the premiere of John Wick: Chapter 4, hitting theaters on March 24. Joining director Chad Stahelski’s now-iconic franchise is a cast of new friends and foes for Keanu Reeves’ fabled assassin to face off against, and Collider’s Steve Weintraub was able to sit down with two of them. In the movie, Shamier Anderson (Wynonna Earp) plays Tracker, a mysterious character who takes on the key role of dog handler for Chapter 4, and Hiroyuki Sanada reunites with his 47 Ronin co-star as Shimazu, Wick’s ally and a voice of reason.
Now presumed dead, John Wick joins up with old associates, the Bowery King (Laurence Fishburne), Winston (Ian McShane), and Charon (Lance Reddick), to take down the High Table. In his quest for freedom from this bloody underworld, Wick will have to fight his way through the world’s most skilled mercenaries to get to Bill Skarsgård’s Marquis de Gramont, the man tasked with righting the wrongs set in motion from the very beginning. In addition to Anderson, Sanada, and Skarsgård, Chapter 4 also introduces Wick fans to martial artist Donnie Yen, Scott Adkins, Rina Sawayama, Natalia Tena, and more.
During their interview, which you can watch in the player above or read below, Anderson and Sanada share the “magnitude” and challenges of joining a franchise like John Wick, and they discuss working with legends like Reeves and Fishburne, as well as meeting and surpassing fans’ expectations. Anderson, who takes the responsibility of the Wick universe’s dog “throughline,” talks about working with his four-legged co-star and Sanada speaks on the importance of his fight scene with Yen, and the fun he had on set.
COLLIDER: Let me start with congratulations. Love the movie, love this franchise. What does it mean to both of you to be part of a franchise like this that is so beloved to so many people around the world?
HIROYUKI SANADA: Yeah, very challenging. It has to be satisfying for their expectation, and also, they need a refreshment or surprise, so what can I do as a new face? So that’s the biggest thing, but I’m so happy to be a part of the series.
SHAMIER ANDERSON: Sense of responsibility, knowing that this is such a beloved franchise, as you said, and knowing that as the new blood, the new guy, probably the youngest guy on set, I had to bring my A-game. So it wasn’t lost on me the magnitude of working with such legends like Hiro, Keanu, Lance, Laurence, I mean, the list goes on, that I had to come in there and really show my stuff. But to that end, everybody was, as you know, very humble and made the process very enjoyable for me.
Image via Lionsgate
[To Anderson] You get to work with the dog, which is a big part of the John Wick franchise, [to Sanada] and you get to fight Donnie [Yen], which is – I don’t want to curse, but it’s effing incredible. So can you both talk a little bit about the dog being a huge part of the franchise, and you get it this time, and getting to fight Donnie?
ANDERSON: Yeah, the dog is a throughline. That’s the reason why this thing even exists, quite frankly. And the experience is one thing, working with a Belgian Malinois, and how incredibly skilled they are and learning that process, and then the other side of it, the responsibility of having a dog in this film and what that holds and what that means to everybody. So when I got the call saying I was gonna be working with a dog, let alone being in the John Wick franchise, I was like, “This is incredible! Do I get a spinoff?” You know, “Something?” But it’s really great, and the Donnie Yen of it, I’ll let Hiro speak on that, but I got to watch those guys fight, which is legendary.
SANADA: Yeah, it was fun. It was the first time to work with him, but the collaboration was so easy, and we put the ideas together. It was so much fun because carrying each character and emotion, and why we have to do this, so each movement has a reason. And then we created the scene better and better and Chad was just watching us and enjoying [laughs]. So it was so much fun. I love that scene for me too.
Image via Lionsgate
This franchise has such iconic action set pieces, and I’m just curious, besides the ones that you were in, which obviously you’re favoring, which sequence in all four movies do you love? Is there one that you just can’t believe? Something exceptional?
ANDERSON: Not just because I have a dog in this version, but the John Wick 3 with Halle Berry, that dog sequence? Next level. Like that was a next-level dog sequence. So that was my favorite one, John Wick 3.
SANADA: Yeah, I like the scene, the gunfight between Caine and John Wick at the end. That’s a beautiful ending scene of the series, I think.
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theaters March 24. For more of what goes on behind the scenes, check out our interview with Laurence Fishburne below.
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