Alfie Allen plays Iosef Tarasov, the arrogant son of notorious crime lord Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist) and target of John Wick’s (Keanu Reeves) rage.
The “Game of Thrones” star’s latest film “John Wick,” hits theaters this Friday, October 24. Read our exclusive interview with Allen below:
How did you get involved with the film? What drew you in to work on it?
Well, you know, I loved the idea of being able to speak a different language in the movie, and also be able to do an American accent. More specifically, a New York type accent. That was interesting. And just the idea of Chad and Dave directing it, because they’re ex-stuntmen, and they would be very hands-on and would know what they were doing with the whole stunt aspect of it, because there’s a lot of stunts in [the film]. And, you know, the cast. I loved being able to have a scene with John Leguizamo, and be in the same movie as Willem Dafoe, and Michael Nyqvist is a fantastic actor, and obviously Keanu Reeves. So it was amazing. I really really enjoyed it.
Can you talk a little about your character and any influences and inspirations you drew from in developing him?
I mean, I went to visit some Russian baths when I was in New York. I wouldn’t be able to give any specific examples, but I definitely sort of tested out my Russian dialect down there. But in terms of inspiration, I guess I found the relationship between [my character] and his father, and there was a backstory about the mother that I found quite interesting as well.
Your character could kind of be described as a “bad guy.” Do you find it tough to stay objective about your character when you are playing him?
I mean, it’s fun, really. You’ve just got to make sure you keep it light and really take those emotions away with you at the end of the day. So, yeah, in a way.
Were there any aspects of shooting the film that were particularly challenging?
Yeah, being sort of hit quite a lot was, it was quite challenging. And I had to do a lot of running. And, yeah, learning the Russian was pretty tough. Because, you know, they would just bring things up on the day and say, “Hey, try this, try that.” And it’s completely alien to me, you know? It was challenging. I definitely enjoyed it, but it was tough.
What was it like collaborating with the directors and the rest of the cast?
Great! Chad and Dave were just very very hands-on, and they just gave us a lot of freedom as actors to be able to sort of improv a little bit here and there. Sometimes it can be quite scary, but when you’re in the right hands it can sort of be guided along in the right way. It was good. I remember doing the scene with John Leguizamo, I’ll never forget that, and that was incredible. Hopefully I’ll get to work with him again some day.
Did any of the freedom and improvisation they allowed wind up shaping or changing the story or the script in any way?
No. It was just little bits here and there. You know, movements almost. There’s a part in it where I get of the car and just before I’m walking in (I’m about to go see my dad) I sort of check myself in the mirror. That adds a sort of vanity to the character.
What was your favorite scene to shoot and why?
I liked the gas station scene in the beginning. That was great. It’s the introduction to the character. And also the scene with Michael Nyqvist, where he tells me how I’ve messed up and who John Wick really is. I come in with a sense of bravado, thinking I’ve done the right thing, and then the end of the scene it’s completely different. It was interesting, a there-to-there.
As you’re going through your career, how do you determine which projects you want to take on and which ones you’ll pass?
It’s a luxury which … I’m not quite there yet. I read a lot of scripts, and I don’t know, I just sort of take things as they come. I try not to plan stuff like that into the future, and if a great thing comes along then hopefully I’ll be able to do it.
Did you have any sort of routine or preparation you’d go through each day to get into character?
No … when I first got the look together with the hair and the clothes, when you get into costume that’s when it really starts to take over in your head. But no I didn’t have any sort of routine everyday.
In what way did the costume affect you?
He had just really show-y costumes. It was very very sort of expensive suits, leather jackets, and shiny shoes. It was brash.
What do you hope that audiences take away from this film?
It’s kind of a crazy love story in there somewhere. It’s not like any other love story I’ve seen. I think the theme in it, that all men can change, and who is the bad guy in it really? Keanu Reeve’s character, John Wick, has done some bad things, but he’s the good guy in a way. But he’s actually killing a lot of people.
What was it like working with Keanu Reeves?
Really good. He’s a very giving, generous actor, and he just sort of puts you at ease. Definitely very very open and easy to work with. Just a very very nice human being.
What’s next for you? Any projects you’re working on?
I’ve got something which is in the pipeline, possibly shooting in January. It’s a road trip movie about three men going into Mexico. And hopefully that’ll happen. Cast is attached now, and we’ve got some good people there. So we’ll have to wait and see, keep my fingers crossed.