Halle Berry kicks much ass in John Wick 3 as Sophia.
When director Chad Stahelski and Keanu Reeves started the first John Wick film five years ago, no one could have imagined that it would become a cult classic. Fewer still could have surmised that it would become so popular that it would garner a third installment chronicling the life and times of John Wick, everyone’s favorite dog-lovin’ assassin.
In John Wick 3, the protagonist calls upon a number of allies to help him leave the life of a killer behind. However, that requires the help of other killers. Enter Sofia, played by Halle Berry, a no-nonsense manager of the Morocco branch of the fabled Continental Hotel where assassins come to rest and escape. But the coming of Wick means the coming of trouble. Fortunately, Sofia is a whole heap of trouble herself.
Though these days it seems that women are increasingly cast in roles where their characters are strong, fierce and deadly, the troupe is a relatively new phenomenon that only dates back to the 90s.
Recently, the Shadow League was in attendance for a John Wick 3 press conference, where Berry told reporters all the ins-and-outs of her role as Sofia.
On the minds of many in the room was where were the beautiful malamute/german shepherd attack dogs that were featured in some action sequences throughout the movie?
“After I got finished training and doing firearms on the range, I’d go hang out with the dogs,” said Berry. “They’re really smart, these Malamutes, I worked with five of them. One or two main dogs had a stand-in each. Each dog was good at certain things. Some snarled really good, some bit well, some jumped higher than the others, some liked to sit and look pretty. But it was actually the most enjoyable part of the day.”
Oftentimes, in a world where many men are hard-pressed to conceptualize what misogyny actually is, it is difficult for some to employ suspension of disbelief simply because the individual visiting much pain on male fighters is a woman, a small woman at that. Here’s what Halle told reporters about why she accepted the role.
“(Keanu) was one of the reasons why I loved the series was seeing him do all that fighting himself. I knew that and it was a lot of pressure. But when I thought about the character myself, I wanted to be a force of nature to deal with.
Being a woman of color and a woman of a certain age. I thought it was really important that she be fierce. It’s not a drama when there’s action but it’s all connected. There’s so much drama in the action and in the reality of what’s really happening. ”
“Sofia is a woman who happens to be smart and capable, but she’s still a woman,” she continued. “The truth is men out-muscle women. They’re bigger and often stronger. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t be fierce competitors with them.”
“So, every fight that I got into, I handled it as I would for a someone my size and I had to foil the men in a way that a woman would. Not taking anything from women, but we have to use everything we have in our surroundings and an awareness of who we are to the best of our abilities to try to equal the playing field.”
“That’s why she had the dogs, to try to equal the playing field. The things she couldn’t do physically, she had these dogs to do.”
For those of a certain age, seeing Keanu Reeves as an action hero isn’t something that happened over night. But here we are, 30 years after Bill & Ted, applauding him for his acumen. Halle went further in describing the abilities of her leading co-star.
“I think there are not many actors that can be so alive and so captivating without saying very much at all. But Keanu has that gift, and it’s a real gift. Because not many people really posses that. You can get bored real fast.”
“But there’s some quality, perhaps it’s charisma. I don’t really have the words for it, I just know how I feel when I watch someone on screen. It just forces me to watch, whether they’re talking or not. And it’s not just that he’s doing cool ass fighting scenes. There’s just something about this person that makes you wanna watch him no matter what he’s doing.”
Oftentimes, when we’re looking at a film of this sort, filled with action, hand-to-hand combat and all manner of physicality, it’s easy to forget just how difficult and taxing it is on the body. Halle says shooting John Wick 3 actually helped reveal a side she had never noticed before.
“This movie taught me that I could do just about anything. I broke three ribs during my training and I worked maybe five weeks with broken ribs and I did not know they were broken. Then I came back better and stronger after breaking those ribs. This process taught me what I’m made of and it was really good for me to learn that.”
John Wick 3 opens in theaters nationwide on May 17.