The “John Wick” action movie franchise gets a prequel in “The Continental: From the World of John Wick.”
The three-episode show, premiering Sept. 22 (on Peacock in the U.S. and Prime Video internationally), tells the story of Winston Scott, who was played by Ian McShane in the movies and by Colin Woodell as a young man “The Continental.”
“I was always a fan of the ‘John Wick’ movies, and what [the movie’s director, Chad [Stahelski] and [star Keanu Reeves] did,” director and executive producer Albert Hughes told The Post.
“I said, ‘Man, it looks like they’re having fun! I want to have fun!’ You don’t want someone imitating Keanu Reeves and Chad Stahelski. You already have that, and it’s done wonderfully well. [The show is] in the same world, but on a different road.”
The film franchise -— which has grossed over a billion dollars at the global box office and currently comprises four movies -— follows the titular character (Reeves), who is a former hitman. The criminal underworld has quirks such as The Continental, a chain of hotels that’s a safe haven and a neutral territory for assassins in which to stay (as long as they don’t do business there).
The mysterious Winston Scott runs The Continental on the big screen, and the concierge Charon (Lance Reddick) handles the reception.
In the series, set in 1970s New York, a young Winston Scott rises to power, surrounded by characters such as his daredevil estranged older brother, Frankie (Ben Robson, “Animal Kingdom,”) enigmatic detective KD (Mishel Prada), and a young Charon (Ayomide Adegun).
The aging mobster Cormac (Mel Gibson) is another prominent character in the show.
Gibson has been a controversial figure — and mostly ignored in Hollywood — ever since his infamous anti Semitic comments in 2006 made him a virtual pariah.
Regarding why he’s in the show, Hughes said, “I cast [Mel Gibson] based on his past work that I grew up on,” Hughes said. “And I think he fit the role perfectly. I think once fans see it, they’ll understand why. The personal stuff is not my business to talk about.”
The movies’ director, Stahelski, is an executive producer on “The Continental,” but Hughes said he was “supportive and respectful, and let me have my space.”
“I met with Chad, and he said, ‘Here are my influences: Hong Kong cinema, Bob Fosse movies, dancing, musicals.’ He does it like a ballet of bullets. And he was like, ‘What do you like?’ and it’s the style of the ‘70s,” Hughes said. He cited “Taxi Driver,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “Saturday Night Fever” and “The French Connection” as influences on the show.
Hughes said Woodell “knocked him out” on the series. “He has that throwback kind of movie star quality. The camera loves him,” he said. “And he did look like a younger version of Ian McShane. But he’s not fully formed like McShane’s character in the films. You’re not a rattlesnake yet. You’re a baby rattlesnake. Sometimes baby rattlesnakes are more dangerous, because they pump all the venom into you, and leave themselves defenseless against prey.”
He added: “He’s still figuring his talent, his power, and how to use it, as a young Winston.”