Are the beans spilled? Is the project all set and gaining momentum with New York City Ballet star Unity Phelan as the John Wick Spin-Off Actress?
We know about the project titled Ballerina since 2017. Back then, Lionsgate bought the script from a 23-year old Shay Hatten. That was before he co-wrote Parabellum and worked on Zach Snyder’s Army of the Dead. But now, the Keanu Reeves-less John Wick movie project is gaining traction. Len Wiseman of Underworld franchise fame is the director. And the latest and the biggest news might be the choice of the lead of Ballerina. Can Unity Phelan be the John Wick Spin-Off Ballerina’s lead Actress?
A virtually unknown but highly talented ballerina, Unity Phelan, may play the lead protagonist in John Wick: Ballerina.
In Ballerina, we might see Unity Phelan reprise her short cameo role from Parabellum. She takes Keanu Reeves’ place on the center-stage of the John Wick Cinematic Universe. Phelon can play ballerina training to be an assassin who sees her world topple when her family is mysteriously killed. From then on, Phelan gets out to find out the unknown faces behind her family’s assassination and taste sweet revenge.
Parabellum tested the waters to evaluate the prospects of a female-led, ballet-infused spin-off. Therefore, the spin-off may now star the New York City Ballet soloist Unity Phelan. She played the ballerina (as addressed in credits too… a cryptic hint?) in John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum.
Unity Phelan’s role and Ballerina cue from John Wick: Parabellum
The New York City Ballet star featured in the Keanu Reeves’ high action thriller. She had a small role comprising of two minor scenes. Therein, Phelan was a young ballet dancer in cadre training as an elite assassin much like Reeves aka John Wick. Her story and cue coming into a standalone spin-off are a prominent Hollywood way. Remember Jennifer Lawrence in Red Sparrow and Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanov aka Black Widow in the MCU?
For those who have seen Parabellum, they remember Phelan as the white ballerina in pointe shoes, a leotard and skirt.
A young dancer with a tattooed back, arms at her side, and a hung head looking at the floor. She stood on stage in front of a theatre with plus red but empty upholstery. However, there was a figure seated in the middle of the empty room. Any guesses who? Read on to find out.
John Wick cast members reprising their roles in Ballerina
So, from what we know and is confirmed, Ballerina is being produced by John Wick director Chad Stahelski. Along with Chad are Erica Lee and Basil Iwanyk. Keanu Reeves is on board as an executive producer. Rumor mills suggest and John Wick pundits opine that the speculated Unity Phelan lead will be joined by The Director aka Anjelica Huston. Huston, who will play a bigger and more central role in Ballerina. She is the woman who runs the school that turns young dancers into cold-blooded assassins.
Huston will be the main antagonist (the lone person in the audience from Phelan’s scene in Parabellum).
Apart from Phelan and Huston, Lance Reddick will reprise his iconic role as the concierge at The Continental. Reddick would be an ideal buffer to help the audience feel at home in the John Wick Cinematic Universe spin-off. He will be used as a connecting link between the assassin adventures of Keanu Reeves and Unity Phelan.
Apart from this, fans may get to see Keanu Reeves doing a cameo. Reeves can help Phelan’s smooth transition from a hapless dancer to a lethal assassin. However, one prominent character we wanted in JWCU but would be absent from Ballerina. Halle Berry looks confirmed to not play a part. Unless the unpredictable Stahelski pulls off another secret delight for the fans.
An actual Ballerina serves better than an established star
Hollywood has a history of having established dancers or acrobats as stunt doubles for A-list stars. However, this won’t be the case in Ballerina. The assassin in the John Wick-spinoff will be as lethal as Keanu Reeves. But she’ll have more grace and Underworld-style acrobatic fighting moves (thanks to Wiseman being the director). Thus, it makes sense for Lionsgate to keep Unity Phelan and make her the star of the John Wick spin-off.
Being an actual Ballet star, Phelan’s movement would give the action sequences more authenticity than any Hollywood actress could.
Furthermore, John Wick Pundits have a consensus. Trying to bring out the same results from a female lead is a risky proposition for Lionsgate. So, Unity Phelan comes across as a much safer bet into a hit and trial adventure. The producers will be wary of spending too much. In case the audience doesn’t show the same excitement that a Keanu Reeves-starring action movie meets. So, Unity Phelan is perfect. If her ballet skills and charming face are matched by intense acting skills, we have a new Star.
A potential franchise away from John Wick
Ballerina is a crucial litmus test for Lionsgate’s hopes of turning John Wick into a formidable franchise name. The intensity of Keanu Reeves’ acting made the trilogy a ‘cemented-in-seats’ treat for fans. With Reeves in the driving seat, John Wick franchise bounced from $88 million from Part 1 in 2014. Then it grew to $172 million for Part 2 in 2017 and $323 million for Parabellum in 2019.
For JWCU to turn into a franchise, it needs to make Unity Phelan an able feminine counterpart to the cold-blooded assassin played by Reeves.
It is true that Stahelski’s direction provided by great cinematography and a memorable movie hall experience for action-movie fans globally. But can exemplary action sequences and fine aesthetics create the same magic in a movie without Keanu Reeves? With Unity Phelan as the John Wick Spin-Off Actress, Lionsgate is taking a different route than most franchises. Consequently, Ballerina makes for a compelling watch. Thus, fans and critics are waiting to see if JWCU has enough crunch to become a full-blown action franchise.
The Ballerina starring Unity Phelan is expected to hit the theatres in 2020. That’s before John Wick: Chapter 4 which releases in 2021. If Ballerina is a hit, it would give confidence to the bosses at Lionsgate. Furthermore, it will pave way for Unity Phelan to become a Hollywood star and kickstart a potential franchise. Maybe, it also gives us a fifth John Wick where she gets to star alongside Baba Yaga Reeves himself.