After years working as a stunt man, stunt coordinator, and fight choreographer, David Leitch made his directorial debut with Chad Stahelski in John Wick and has become well known for the amazing stunt choreography and action sequences he brings to his films. Last summer he tackled his sophomore directorial project with Charlize Theron in Atomic Blonde, which wowed critics and audiences everywhere. Taking over directorial duties from Tim Miller for Deadpool 2, he brings that same flair to the sequel, now in theaters.
Screen Rant got a chance to interview David Leitch on press day where we discuss how he challenged his choreography team to display Domino’s powers, being the new kid on the block with the longtime Deadpool creative team of Rhett Reese, Paul Werneck, and Ryan Reynolds, and what he hopes to bring the the video game genre with his adaptation of The Division.
SR: First of all, this film has a lot of heart. More than I thought it was going to have for Deadpool. I mean, the first one that was like a romantic action movie. This one's an action movie about family. You're the new kid on the block. Rhett, Paul, and Ryan had been working on Deadpool for a very long time so can you talk to me about that? And were they open to a lot of your ideas?
David Leitch: Yeah! Great! They were really open to my ideas and they were great collaborators. Yeah, I mean, I can't imagine better collaborators actually. It was really sort of a best idea wins atmosphere, which was great. You were talking about the heart and soul of the movie, when I read the sort of first draft that they kicked out after I came on board and we had cracked the code on it and it had all the things that Deadpool needs in my mind and heart was one of them. You know?
SR: You have a great eye for action. What did you want to bring to Deadpool with your style specifically?
David Leitch: Look, I wanted to do some more analog style action. I was a huge fan of the first one and I think that the stuff that Tim Miller did on the freeway, that sequence, it just blows my mind and it's so well done and perfectly crafted. But um, my sensibility was obviously to lean in more of the fighting stuff. We had a few more characters with interesting powers. We got to play with Domino's luck. I mean, I sort of approached it from a choreographer's perspective and um, you know, I just had fun with the styles.
SR: Speaking of Domino, on paper, I was like, how are they going to display her powers, but it completely works. Can you talk to me about some of those sequences?
David Leitch: Yeah, no, I challenged the choreography team, my 87/ 11 team to um, yeah, how are we going to demonstrate luck? And I know there's a, in the comic books, it's slightly different, it's more like probability and it's like she's a great shot and like, but I was like, let's think beyond that. I mean we have sort of the rules now let's think beyond that. And um, we started to play with this sort of Rube Goldberg idea, like one thing affects another thing, next thing. And that just became so fun to us as choreographers. I think when you designed fight scenes, you just want to break out or the kick punch, kick punch and find new ways and make it fresh for the audience and that was an opportunity.
SR: There's a lot of surprise cameos in here. I don't want to give anything away with spoilers because I want people to see the film. But how did some of that come about? Was that just on the fly or was that always planned to be like the Vanisher?
David Leitch: Well we wanted Vanisher to be a cameo. It was just like, who are we going to put in there? So it was actually late in the game, um, we had our eye on this person for a long time and we had sort of a good vibe that this person might be interested and so, um, we were lucky to get them. It's an honor. It's actually so fun.
SR: Actually, I wanted to ask you about The Division.
David Leitch: Yeah.
SR: Because obviously video game adaptations have been cursed in the past. What can you tell me about The Division?
David Leitch: Well, I think there is this sort of curse that everybody talks about and um, I think part of it, at least from my observation, is that a movie tells its own story. A video game, you tell the story, I mean, you control it and I think that those are hard things to connect. But the world of the Division asks some really complex questions that I like and the world is so expansive. I think we can find a real human narrative in there and actually add some killer action to the world building that they already have and so I'm really excited about the property and that sort of the artists that are all involved in it.
- Deadpool 2 (2018) release date: May 18, 2018
- New Mutants (2019) release date: Aug 02, 2019
- X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019) release date: Jun 07, 2019
- Gambit (2020) release date: Mar 13, 2020