The highly anticipated TV series “The Continental,” set in the “John Wick” universe, has taken the small screen by storm with its explosive action sequences. In a recent interview with stunt coordinator Larnell Stovall, we gained insights into the making of an intense stairwell shoot-out that left viewers on the edge of their seats. Despite the constraints of a TV production schedule, the team managed to deliver cinematic-level action in just one day of shooting.
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“The Continental” explores the origins of the iconic Continental Hotel, renowned for hosting lavish parties and providing a sanctuary for assassins. In its debut on Peacock, the series kicked off with a bang, both figuratively and literally, as a scene depicted the character Frankie, portrayed by Ben Robson, battling a squad of henchmen in a crowded stairwell.
Stovall, a seasoned stunt coordinator known for his work in action-packed films, was tasked with bringing this thrilling sequence to life. The challenge was multifaceted – finding a suitable location, choreographing the action, and ensuring that the scene lived up to the high standards set by the “John Wick” film franchise.
“We looked at multiple stairwells and found one that worked perfectly. The Budapest team and the U.S. team got back together at the gym and created our own version,” Stovall explained. “We designed it, how many levels it’s going to be, how long the sequence is going to be, and we do our best to make it exact.”
What made this sequence particularly challenging was the need to accommodate multiple fighters within the confines of the stairwell while ensuring that the camera could capture all the action effectively. Ben Robson’s 6-foot 4-inch frame added an extra layer of complexity to the scene.
“We wanted to create tension, drama, pressure, guys coming from up the stairs, guys coming from down the steps,” Stovall revealed. “It felt like ants coming at him, and you didn’t know how he was going to make his way out of it.”
Despite the cinematic ambitions of the shoot-out, the production had to adhere to a TV production schedule. In contrast to the multiple days allocated for similar scenes in “John Wick” films, they had just one day to pull it off. This meant that every detail had to be meticulously planned, with no room for error.
“Our quality is a feature film, but our schedule was similar to a TV schedule,” Stovall stated. “Some of the fight scenes in ‘John Wick’ may have three to five days to shoot that sequence. In TV, we have one day. You have to be very smart in how you design the action sequence because you don’t know if you’re ever gonna be able to go back and film again or have that location again. We nailed it. It was the first big one to let our audience know, ‘This is who we are and this is the type of action you can expect.'”
“The Continental” has certainly set a high bar for TV action sequences with its one-day stairwell shoot-out. As the series continues to explore the rich backstory of the “John Wick” universe, viewers can anticipate more adrenaline-pumping moments that blur the lines between TV and cinematic excellence.