Action movie protagonists have long been men of few words: Think Clint Eastwood, Bruce Lee, or Arnold Schwarzenegger, all of whom specialize in laconic performances in most of their most famous movies. But Keanu Reeves has been quietly (so to speak) taking this to a whole new level with the “John Wick” franchise.
Keanu Reeves speaks just 380 words in the entirety of the saga’s latest installment, “John Wick: Chapter 4.” The result, if reports of the actor’s $15 million salary for the blockbuster sequel are accurate? His paycheck comes to $39,473 and change per word!
Of course, Reeves does a lot more than just deliver dialogue in the “John Wick” movies, performing much of his own stunt work, operating various firearms, and loads of fighting. He also delivers what little dialogue he has with a special relish, particularly the way he has of drawing out the word “yeah.” About a third of Wick’s dialogue in the film comes in the form of single words (much of them the word “yeah”).
As Michael Finch, one of the screenwriters of “John Wick: Chapter 4” told the Wall Street Journal recently:
“It’s a shock when you work with him how dedicated he is to not speaking.“
Reeves might have taken his character’s few words to new heights with the new “John Wick” movie, but the character has never been exactly chatty. The most verbose he has ever been on screen is reportedly also one of his most famous lines, from the original “John Wick” film: “People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer. But now, yeah, I’m thinkin’ I’m back.”
“John Wick: Chapter 4” just had a phenomenal opening weekend of over $73.5 million in box office grosses, enough to make a fifth “John Wick” installment possible even though “Chapter 4” was intended to be the final film in the series. So it’s clear that Wick’s virtually wordless nature doesn’t bother audiences — and if Reeves is able to somehow return once more as the beleaguered assassin, he might be able to bump up his salary-per-word take even more.