Fantastic Fest 2014: Adrianne Palicki on ‘John Wick’ & ‘Agents of SHIELD’

Adrianne Palicki 

John Wick is about, well, John Wick. It kind of says it right there. But John Wick interacts with a lot of colorful characters, including many he has to fight. When the son (Alfie Allen) of the Russian mobster Viggo (Michael Nyqvist) kills his dog, John Wick (Keanu Reeves) returns to his old hit man job for a personal revenge mission. Viggo puts a contract out on Wick to try to hold him off, and one of the contractors is Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki). Palicki attended the Fantastic Fest premiere of John Wick and the next day we got to talk to her about kicking ass and her upcoming stint on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Related: Keanu Reeves on ‘John Wick’ and ‘Constantine’

CraveOnline: Why don’t you tell my readers about this wonderful character, Ms. Perkins?

Adrianne Palicki: Well, I think Ms. Perkins is what you think the quintessential assassin would be. She’s cold, heartless, conniving, badass and I think that she has fun with what she does. She enjoys it. I think that she’d clearly do it for a dollar. Ultimately in the film she’s doing it for four million, so it’s a little different. 

You’ve done a number of action roles before, but was John Wick on a whole other level?

It was. It was different. I got to learn a martial art. I actually learned Judo, but also getting to play an evil character. I’d never really done that, so on top of it all, that was really fun. 

Was any of that training anything that you’d never done before?

Yes, I’m very familiar with guns and combat training and fighting and boxing and what not, but this was the first time I actually got to learn a martial art. And it was smart what they did. They were like, “We want it to be brutal, we want it to be gritty. As the female in the movie, the fact that she comes in and kills all these huge men, the one that she has a fight with has to be believable.” So they wanted me to be able to use all of my body strength and MMA fight style which was awesome.

Is that something you might continue to practice in real life?

Oh yes. My sensei on the movie was Keanu’s stunt double, so he’s teaching me stuff which is fun. 

When you find yourself choreographing a fight scene with Neo from The Matrix, do you take a moment to reflect on that?

I couldn’t have asked for a more amazing, strong partner in that situation. He was very complementary. We worked very well together so it’s a partnership at that point. It’s a dance, learning the choreography and you just try not to hurt each other. That’s ultimately what happened.

With directors who are also action choreographers themselves, was there any similarity to working with Jon Chu who had experience filming dance before he made G.I. Joe?

Absolutely, and I even think that the shooting style is very similar because they’re long shots you’re doing throughout the action. It’s about capturing those moments as opposed to just snipping them with lots of cuts and quick cuts here and there. They both have a very similar way of shooting in that style of let’s see where the sequence takes us and we want to see this through, as opposed to fast little bits.

I loved how every character in John Wick basically agreed that Viggo’s son was a dick for killing the dog and they were going to let John kill him. Is Ms. Perkins totally in it for the money?

I think so. I also think we talked about a backstory. It’s likely they had a history as well, pre his marriage. She may have a personal vendetta as well as the money. I think there’s an enjoyment on multiple levels.

Do you think they might have ever been on the same side at one point?

Yeah, absolutely. I think they probably worked together. I think they probably, you know, had fun with each other on some level at a point. But, I think they definitely played on the same side.

You’ve become so well versed in action at this point, if you were offered a role in the female Expendables movie, would you be up for that?

[Laughs.] I don’t know. I can’t answer that question. I’d have to see the script first.

Are you a fan of action movies yourself?

Oh yes, yes. I grew up with a brother who’s also into comic books and a comic book writer, so that kind of genre and acting style has always been what we would watch. Saturdays on USA watching Die Hard over and over again, and any Jean-Claude Van Damme movie that would be on. He was my favorite. 

What was the mood on the set of John Wick? Was it fun or really serious?

I think it was both. It had its serious moments. It had to when you’re doing that much action. It’s very important for people to be aware so they don’t get hurt. Inevitably, someone always does because it’s an action film, but at the same time, we’d all try to keep the levity about us. You’re putting in those hours in your costumes, eventually things just get weird, in a good way. People get delusional and get crazy. It was a good balance of both. 

Do you know what’s in store for Lady Jaye in the next G.I. Joe?

I don’t actually. I don’t know. Right now I’m currently shooting “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Mockingbird, another superhero, so that’s fun. Then hopefully I get to come back as Lady Jaye at some point. 

How many episodes of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” will you be on?

You know, some. I can’t really divulge too much information but it’s definitely more than one.

When something in the Marvel universe comes along, do you just jump at that?

There’s fear in it too. I know if I play this character, I probably would never play another Marvel character. There’s different questions you have to ask, and you ask about that too. Where is this character going? All those silly fears that you get being locked into something, but I have to say working with this group of people has been amazing. These producers and show runners are fantastic and I trust them implicitly. Marvel’s been really fun to work with as well, so I’m looking forward to it and I hope it’s a long run for us. 

Have you seen the pictures of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and what do you think of that interpretation?

I am so happy for her. It was an honor for me to play the character and I think it’s awesome she gets to play it now. I’m hoping that it’s kick ass and I’m sure it will be.

Was “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series” a fun show to do?

Oh my God, it was so fun. Working with Robert Rodriguez was a dream of mine, so getting to do that for a couple episodes was really fun, and also being back in Austin where I consider my home. It was a blast. Hopefully I’ll be coming back to that show at some point.

Fred Topel is a staff writer at CraveOnline and the man behind Best Episode Ever and The Shelf Space Awards. Follow him on Twitter at @FredTopel.