John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, which boasted over $300M in worldwide gross, is seeing its home release today. The stunts and cinematography have been the talk of the town, along with Keanu Reeves’ performance, but the film is surprising for another reason. Mark Dacascos was originally set to play a small role, but director Chad Stahelski upgraded him to the story’s central villain the week that shooting started. He stepped up to the plate admirably, but the experience was as much of a wild ride as the movie itself. The actor sat down with Screen Rant to discuss how he prepared for the role in such a short time, as well as what the atmosphere on set was like.
John Wick 3: this is one of the best worlds that's been created in such a long time. But I gotta ask, because you're no you're no stranger to stunts; you're no stranger to action. What was the hardest challenge for you, physically or mentally?
Mark Dacascos: Well, thanks for having me, Joe. I think that one of the hardest things was to get up to speed from zero to 100 in a short amount of time.
No pun intended.
Mark Dacascos: I got the text from Chad Stahelski, our director, on a Sunday to call him on Monday. I called him on Monday, he said, “Dacascos, things have changed. You're going from a couple of scenes to the lead villain.”
I leave Monday night, I got there Tuesday, Wednesday prep, Thursday shooting. So, there was not a lot of preparation for me and I just had to get my mind and spirit and body ready to go 100 miles an hour, you know? Because Keanu, Halle, the whole team came in; they're very well prepared. Fortunately, 87eleven Action Design, Chad, Keanu – very welcoming. I like to think that they got me up to where I could perform with them.
It's interesting, because Chad obviously has a huge background in stunts. What was it like working for him as a director, with that kind of mindset that he has and the way he kind of coordinates it?
Mark Dacascos: Working with Chad was a dream, because he understood what we were going through.
He could do the moves that we did, or at least he could do the moves that I did, as well if not better. So, he got me, you know? And he could explain the angles he was shooting at and what he wanted in each bit. It was a joy; it was a joy.
Let me ask you about Zero a little bit. What was your favorite aspect of playing that character? And what translated in your real life to Zero as the character?
Mark Dacascos: Oh, very easy. The couch scene, because I am a huge Keanu Reeves fan, and Zero is a huge John Wick fan. Sure. So, when I saw in the script that the dialogue was, you know, “I'm a fan,” I just asked Chad, and Keanu if they feel comfortable if I just pushed it over even more. Not just “I'm a fan,” but “I'm a fanboy,” and played that. And it was really fun. I think that was probably one of my most favorite scenes I've ever done.
87eleven: I've been there once, and it's intense. Not only is it intense, [it has] some of the best stunt performers in the world. Talk to me about the process of training there and how quickly they got you up to speed? Because you said it was a very short amount of time you had to prepare for this.
Mark Dacascos: Oh, it was a very short amount of time. So, yes, they are some of the best in the world. Like I said, I got to New York from LA on Tuesday. I did a wardrobe check; met with Chad, Angelica, Keanu and everybody that day; did my physical. I didn't shave my hair off until Wednesday, I think, but prepped as much as we could. Then on Wednesday, I did the rest; shaved the head and we had a little bit of a fight rehearsal. Then Thursday, we started shooting.
They just kind of, you know, taught me as much as they could day by day. It was day by day; it was always trying to catch up to whatever was happening that afternoon.
What was the biggest lesson you learned after playing Zero in John Wick 3? What was something that maybe you hadn't known before, or maybe you want to implement in other roles that you have going forward?
Mark Dacascos: Well, I think it's that you have to be prepared. As an actor, as a martial artist, you have to keep things flowing and just be open to improvising and transitions. Life changes all the time. On Sunday, I wasn't a part of John Wick 3, and on Monday, I was. And then on Thursday, we were shooting. A franchise that I'd been a fan of, all of a sudden, within just a few days, I'm a part of.
Life changes, and there are ups and downs. I think in my case, doing John Wick 3, when things are up – really appreciate, be grateful, and be aware and present. Because you know it's not going to last, so enjoy it while it's there.