‘John Wick’ Director on How His Henry Cavill ‘Highlander’ Reboot Will Feel Like a Prequel

There can be more than one way to make a Highlander movie.

Director Chad Stahelski gave some hints about his approach to adapting the 1986 fantasy classic, which has Henry Cavill attached to play the immortal Scottish swordsman Connor MacLeod.

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Talking to the Happy Sad Confused podcast, the John Wick director suggested his approach to the new film in development will be to launch a potential series of films. He says the idea is to not rush the first movie to the original film’s conclusion — which crowned MacLeod the sole survivor of a group of dueling immortals following their climactic Gathering.

“I think we have some very good elements now,” he said. “The trick is when you have the tagline, ‘There can only be one,’ you can’t just kill everybody the first time.”

Stahelski also said the film will incorporate elements of the 1992 syndicated Highlander TV series, which ran for six seasons.

“Our story engages a lot of the same characters, but we’ve also brought in elements of all the TV shows,” Stahelski said. “We’re trying to do a bit of a prequel — a setup to The Gathering — so we have room to grow the property.”

He noted he hasn’t thought of John Wick as a franchise (despite that Continental TV show coming) but he does see Highlander as a potential franchise.

“We have ideas for days for the coolest characters [that could make for] an epic TV show,” he said. “I just think that’s rich mythology when you can pick any period of time, any nationality, any culture, any type of person and make them an immortal that have to duel and deal with the burden of immortality — that’s fucking cool.”

Stahelski added that the original is “one of the best-worst films ever,” saying that it really shouldn’t work given all its disparate (and sometimes cheesy) elements, yet somehow came together to remain highly entertaining.

Stahelski, who has been developing the project since 2016, previously spoke about Highlander for The Hollywood Reporter’s Cavill cover profile. “Henry obviously has the physicality, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t also carry the empathy of a character that’s lived 500 years, and I needed somebody who could do both,” Stahelski said. “The character’s arc spans hundreds of years and he becomes many different personalities, all of which extend the timeline of his emotional growth. Then during our first meeting, my suspicions were confirmed: Henry was immediately riffing on the idea of the burden of immortality and you could see in his eyes that he can transform himself from being a young, vibrant soul to an old, wise soul. He had this combination I was fascinated by. The other thing you could see was his genuineness — he really loves the property and loves what he believes he can do with it, and when an actor has that level of passion, you’re going to get something unique. And finally — you’ve met him, you know — after 10 minutes you’re just like: ‘He’s cool, I want to hang out with this guy.’”

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