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Director David Leitch Tells Us All About ‘Hobbs & Shaw’ And How That Keanu Reeves Rumor Started

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David Leitch is on quite an action-packed streak. Leitch began his Hollywood career as a stuntman but got his big break as the co-director of John Wick (alongside Chad Stahelski). Since then, in a pretty short amount of time, Leitch has directed Atomic Blonde, Deadpool 2 (and we asked him what a third chapter looks like now that Fox was bought by Disney), and now the Fast & Furious spinoff, Hobbs & Shaw.

Hobbs & Shaw finds Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham reprising their respective roles, forced together to stop Idris Elba’s evil Brixton Lore from tracking down a rogue spy (Vanessa Kirby) who is in possession of a dangerous virus that could wipe out the world’s population. So, it’s all up to Hobbs and Shaw to save the world, but, unfortunately, they don’t like each other very much.

Ahead, Leitch takes us through the present and future of both Hobbs and Shaw, and reveals why a little Easter egg might just change how you look at another movie. (Leitch does not consider this a spoiler, so it’s in here. But, you might. If it is, it’s a minor one that does not affect the plot.)

When I saw this movie, the Rock comes out for a scene without a shirt and a woman behind me yells, “Ah, look at that body.” And the whole theater erupted in applause.

[Laughs] That’s awesome. Are you sure it wasn’t a member of the media?

I’d say 80 percent sure.

I was not beyond making The Rock walk the catwalk, as we say. We wanted to make a movie that was fun for an audience and that was a big, fun, summer, popcorn movie. So, if it meant The Rock taking his shirt off for a moment to make one of the four quadrants of fans cheer, then it was worth it.

Right after that scene, he fights a helicopter. I love that there’s a scene of him putting his shirt back on.

Yeah, that was one of those classic moments in movies where we have this sort of continuity thing that we need to address. These big logistical puzzles. We’re shooting scenes, obviously out of order, even in different parts of the world, and there’s that moment where you have that realization, oh shit, he’s got his shirt on.

That’s fantastic.

But, for me, I like that he does to so quickly and efficiently. It’s like only Hobbs can.

How did you want to make this different from the main Fast and Furious movies?

I wanted us to obviously be true to the franchise, but then not take ourselves 100 percent seriously. Maybe 99 percent seriously. I think that what’s been great about the Fast world is the audience has been accepting for them to reinvent themselves in different ways over the last incarnations, and to get crazier and crazier. And I think with Hobbs & Shaw, I think we felt confident that the audience would go along the ride with these characters wherever we went as long as we were having fun and we’re being true to those characters.

People know Dwayne Johnson is funny, but ever since Spy, Jason Statham has been leaning more into being funny, which he is.

Oh, 100 percent. Jason, not only being a talented actor, and obviously a talented action star, he’s a really funny comedian and has great comedic instinct, and he knows his strong suits when it comes to comedy. And they couldn’t have been more tailor-made for each other, this Hobbs & Shaw dynamic.

Idris Elba does the “stops bullets with his hands” trick that I’ve always loved since The Empire Strikes Back.

That whole world Idris is involved in is this sort-of tech cult that has some of this great cutting edge, next-generation gear and that bulletproof suit was one of them. And obviously, his enhancement allows him to predict things, and see things faster than other people. So we thought it was an interesting moment. It’s a little bit of a throwback to my days on The Matrix, in the Neo moment.

A lot of times the bullets just bounce off the chest, but to actually have the hand is great.

So, yes, we went there.

After directing the first John Wick with Chad Stahelski, do you and he have a friendly competition with these movies now? We have John Wick 3 and Hobbs & Shaw. Or even with Atomic Blond and John Wick 2.

It’s hard to answer because we’re so close, and we’re brothers, and I’m sure that there’s some brotherly competition going on, but we don’t ever give voice to it. And we’re really supportive of each others’ projects. There are times when he calls me to check out a cut, or I call him, “Hey, I’m doing this piece of choreography. What do you think about this moment?” And there’s still this sort of back and forth, as busy as we are, we like to talk to each other about each others’ projects.

Right, but when you go in and see John Wick 3, is there a part where you’re just like, “Shit. That’s a new one.”

Totally. And when I see it, I give him props because I think that our brand, we came up together with 87eleven, and so I mean, I just see it reflective of us as the stuntmen doing it. And so when he has a great sequence, like my favorite one is the fight in the antique shop in John Wick 3.

Oh yeah…

I’m geeking out as a fan, and also like, “That’s my boy.” You know? And I know he feels the same way. He had seen the LA screening, he was at the premiere of Hobbs & Shaw. And he had seen stuff before, so we had talked about the scene in the rain, and he was geeking out on that as well. It was fun.

So tell me if this is a spoiler, the part about Shaw having a MINI Cooper in his garage and referencing a job in Italy.

I don’t think that’s a spoiler necessarily.

Okay, so are we to assume that’s Shaw in The Italian Job?

It’s an odd meta joke…

So is this canon now?

[Laughs] Maybe. And honestly, I can’t say that I thought it through that far except that people, when we did it, everyone was laughing and we had a good time with it. And Jason loved it and we all thought it was fun to be slightly self-referential. It’s funny, that’s a joke that’s been in and out in different incarnations. And at the end we just said, “Ah, if they laugh, let’s go with it.” But you’re right, maybe that is cool! And canon, I’ve got to go back and watch that film, and bring some of those characters into Hobbs & Shaw 2.

Oh, it is on cable all the time. You will have no problem finding it. And you’ve already worked with Charlize, you’re almost halfway there.

And she’s already part of the universe anyway.

So where did that Keanu Reeves being in this movie rumor come from?

Oh, I think it’s just that I see our relationship as close because of the John Wick series. And our history with The Matrix movies. And so I think that there was a buzz around the idea of, maybe Keanu could be the villain in this. And it’s not like I didn’t even entertain it in my mind! But it wasn’t something that was ever going to be meant to be for this installment. Although looking forward in the future, it would be awesome if he would want to play in this world, for sure.

This movie doesn’t feel like a one-off? This feels more like we’re taking these two in a different direction. Is that accurate?

I hope so. There’s been a massive amount of conversations about it, but I think that everybody at the studio wants to see how we do, and the appetite for it. I did my best, as a filmmaker, to lay fertile ground for a world. And I think if you look at our cast, it’s Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Vanessa Kirby, Idris Elba. They’re movie stars.

True.

And so this could go in a lot of different ways. If it was just a Shaw spin-off, you could bring Luke back, or you could do Owen’s character, Idris could return. There’s a rich world, and on Hobbs’ side, there’s an equally rich world with Roman Reigns, and obviously some of the other special guests that you’ll see. It’s a big opportunity for everyone. And I think if the audience is willing, then why not build another one.

Is there a part of you that wishes you could’ve done a Hobbs? And then a Shaw? And then people would say, holy hell, now we’re getting Hobbs and Shaw?

No. I was really grateful for the opportunity and how it came about, in the sense that I’ve been wanting to work with Jason for a long time and I’ve been wanting to work with Dwayne. And we’d circled projects, and never could land on the right one, respectively. And then when this came into my lap, and it was them together, it was like, oh, no, this makes total sense. So I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. Jason and Dwayne especially, have really defined these characters in a compelling way that they can go on and do things together, apart. I think people will want to see them, I think they’re going to love these guys.

You can contact Mike Ryan directly on Twitter.

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