‘John Wick 4’ Director Chad Stahelski Says Campaign for Stunt Oscars Has ‘Made Real Movement Forward’

A year packed with action-filled tentpoles rejuvenates conversations about stunt work getting awards recognition

John Wick 4
"John Wick: Chapter 4" (Credit: Lionsgate)

With “John Wick: Chapter 4” arriving on Blu-ray and DVD, director Chad Stahelski is continuing his press tour mission to get the Academy to create a new Oscar category honoring stunts. This was a core facet of the film’s theatrical press tour, and it has apparently born fruit.

Speaking with ComicBookMovie.com, the filmmaker behind the fourth Keanu Reeves-starring actioner stated that there have been serious talks within the Academy about potentially righting this arguable wrong. While he noted that no one at the Academy had previously sat down and talked it out, that’s changed just in the last few months.

“So, in the last couple of months, we’ve been meeting with members of the Academy and actually having these conversations, and, to be honest, it’s been nothing but incredibly positive, incredibly instructional,” Stahelski said. “I think, for the first time, we’ve made real movement forward to making this happen. I think it’s something that can happen as soon as, you know, the next Oscars, or at least the one after that. At the latest, the next three or four years.”

Chadelski noted one of the challenges, as TheWrap previously reported, was figuring out who would actually get the gold statute for a given film.

“is it for best stunt? Is it best choreography? Best action sequence? Best stunt ensemble? Does the stunt coordinator get it? The guy doing the gag get it? The martial arts choreographer? The fight choreography? The stunt double? The second unit director? The editor? Who gets the award? All these are great questions that just need to be talked about by smart individuals on both sides of it, the stunt community and the Academy.”

However the process plays out, the filmmaker appeared confident that both sides of the conversation want Academy Award recognition for stunts. “They want stunts at the Oscars. It’s going to happen,” he said.

“We want this to be impactful on the industry and on the world, we want to do this classy, we want to do it right, we want to do it smart, and that just takes a little bit of time and the right people in the room talking,” Stahelski continued.

Spurring additional optimism, the Board of Governors of the Academy created the Production and Technology Branch, comprised of 400 individuals who work in several key technical and production positions. Almost 100 of them are stunt coordinators.

The conversation about a stunt category at the Oscars is not a new one. However, it’s picked up renewed interest and urgency amid a year chock-filled with big blockbuster movies that are partially sold on the notion of practical action sequences performed by professional stunt people. Such a category would honor the work in many of the very movies (all due respect to “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”) keeping theatrical moviegoing alive and well amid a COVID-era recovery.

Granted, such a category doesn’t have to automatically become essentially “best action movie,” as pratfalls and nonaction stuntwork can take as much skill as conventional violence-driven action set pieces. But in year when many of the biggest hits are flourishing specifically because of their practical magic, the conversation has become an “if not now, when?” debate. If the director of “John Wick: Chapter 4” is to be believed, the right people are listening.