The Continental: From the World of John Wick has come to an explosive end after three intensive weeks of this spiraling conspiracy. While this show might be over, there are still some interesting loose ends that can be explored in the future of the John Wick franchise and we were lucky to talk to director Albert Hughes, who directed the show’s first and final episodes, about them.
Hughes is no stranger to film and television: he’s worked as a director alongside his brother, Allen Hughes, and is most notably for recognized for The Book of Eli, starring Denzel Washington. However, he’s also had his own directorial debut with his solo feature film, Alpha, as well as his own episode in Showtime’s The Good Lord Bird, starring Ethan Hawke and Joshua Caleb Johnson.
We had the chance to talk with Albert Hughes about The Continental, his decisions behind creating the prequel spin-off series, and expanding the world of the John Wick franchise. Check it out down below!
Albert Hughes Talks The Continental
CoveredGeekly: What made Winston Scott and the Continental itself the elements from the John Wick movies that you wanted to explore for this spin-off?
HUGHES: I got the script, I read it, and I thought, “Well, that’s an interesting angle,” because that’s a very mysterious thing that takes place in the film series. As you see, the Continental, it’s very brief in every film of the series and Winston was a fascinating character [as] he’s very mysterious, very clever. He’s a three-dimensional chess player.
Now that four films have been out, we can see the full arc of what he does in that film series and what happens with Charon [Lance Reddick], I didn’t see [John Wick 4] before we started, I saw 4 right when we finished and a long cut. So, I go, “Oh my god, this would be a fun and interesting thing.”
The script came to me, taking place in the 1970s in the beginnings of Winston and Charon’s relationship and how they forged the bonds along with all the new characters, reverse-engineering, fighting styles, and guns and everything.
CoveredGeekly: Were there any other approaches to a prequel series that you or Greg Coolidge, Kirk Ward, and Shawn Simmons wanted to proceed with that got shelved?
HUGHES: Along with Kirk, who was my “partner-in-crime” and shoulder-to-shoulder with me as a writer, I heard when we started working on this that it was meant to be a 10-part series with all these long, overarching characters and themes.
Someone had the bright idea one day, I think it was someone at Lionsgate, who said, “Let’s do a 3-part throwback like the British limited series used to be where it was a feature every week.” [sic] I wasn’t there to make the decisions by the time I’d gotten the script, but Kirk Ward had told me what they had gone through the previous two years.
By time I got there, I was relieved that it wasn’t ten episodes because I don’t know if you can maintain that kind of quality in ten episodes with multiple directors as guest directors or lead directors. It’s very tough, there are very few shows that do it: the two that stand out to me, tone-wise, are Mindhunter and The Handmaid’s Tale. They have a very definitive style that they maintain through ten episodes.
CoveredGeekly: Was there any involvement or guidance from Chad Stahelski and Derek Kolstad that helped improve your directing throughout this show?
HUGHES: It was more of a support because Chad knows I’ve been around and he’s been around so he just called me up and said, “Here are my influences, here’s what I love: Hong Kong cinema, Bob Fosse movies, Ballet of Bullets. What are you into? Whatever you’re into, you should do.”
He never put any constraints on. The studio never put any constraints on. Basil [Iwanyk] and Erica [Lee], the two producers, they never put any constraints on. In fact, I asked them when I met them in Berlin while they were shooting, “What do you guys want? Give me three things you want.”
They said, “Well, reveal more of the Continental and some of the stuff that’s going on inside there, more mythology and ground it a little bit more.” I wrote it down, put it in my jacket, and went to Budapest with my marching orders!
CoveredGeekly: In addition to following Winston’s mission, there are so many connecting storylines like Lou and Miles’ familial arc as well as KD’s own investigation. How do you think the outcomes of these storylines could connect into the future of the franchise?
HUGHES: That’s a good question! [laughs] Although, I do have hope for one or two of the characters that could continue forward and I’ll say this: I think that KD would be an interesting addition or recruit to be an Adjudicator. She knows how to get something done and [laughs] maybe she would be an interesting Adjudicator.
I think she could also be a really good assassin too just like John Wick with all that.
She could go that direction too! She can go as an assassin or she can be apart of the High Table, she can go in any different direction! Lou is actually interesting too because she doesn’t believe in using guns, so how does that resolve itself?
CoveredGeekly: Were there any emotional moments in the show, like with Miles explaining his past to Yen, that you personally resonated with?
HUGHES: I love what Kirk Ward did with that, he wrote that scene and it was about two former enemies, one’s Vietnamese and one’s American, discussing this moment during the war where an [Muhammad] Ali fight stops both sides. That was Kirk Ward’s baby and he got a lot of flack for that and a lot of people didn’t want that in the script.
He talked to Hubert Point-Du Jour and [Nhung] Kate, who plays Yen, and he really discussed it deeply with them. When I saw it performed and what they did with it, I thought, “This is the only time I can accept our reality coming into the John Wick world,” because that’s a bit of real reality that John Wick usually never wants.
It was an analogy or metaphor on something larger that they were talking about that I thought worked quite beautifully and had it not been for Kirk championing that, it would have never ended up there. I think it’s one of the more human moments of the whole series.
CoveredGeekly: There are so many intense action scenes in the show, ranging from Frankie’s escape to that one-on-one between Yen and Gretel. Which fight scene did you have the most fun directing and which one was the hardest to do?
HUGHES: I had a lot of help because I have Larnell Stovall there directing a lot of it for me [laughs] and we take it together and sometimes, we combine forces and we work together and sometimes, I’m left alone. It’s a hybrid of sorts.
What I’m most proud of for the team is, I think, Larnell thought the speakeasy with Lou and Miles against Hansel would be the big fight scene that everybody would be talking about, but I said, “No, no, it’s that rooftop one!” That rooftop one between [Yen and Gretel] is crazy because it’s turning a trope on its head too, it’s not some traditional dynasty fight from the soap operas of the ’90s or a cat fight.
They’re two badass women who are going at it and the result is pretty staggering especially because they both have a different skillset. [Nhung Kate] has a martial arts background and [Marina Mazepa] is a contortionist, so they’re able to display their physical talents in that scene and I think that’s one of the highlights for a fight sequence.
The Continental follows a young Winston Scott (Colin Woodell) being thrown into the chaos of the Continental in 1970s New York, forced to face his traumatic childhood in his troubling present. Having to team up with his brother’s old allies, Lou (Jessica Allain) and Miles (Hubert Point-Du Jour), while avoiding obstacles, Winston must chart his way while hiding from the hidden eye of the Continental’s owner, Cormac (Mel Gibson) and a very curious police investigator, KD (Mishel Prada).