PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where interesting people answer questions about things that simply don’t interest them. One of the most popular movie franchises the last few years has been the “John Wick” saga, in which Keanu Reeves plays a sad assassin who is forced to shoot lots of people with Kung Fu. When he’s worn out from that, he stays at a mysterious hotel and is greeted by the elegant concierge named Charon. That’s Lance Reddick, who fans of “The Wire” will remember as Lt. Daniels. Or maybe they’ll remember him for his roles in “Lost,” “Oz” or “Fringe.”
Lance Reddick, welcome to WAIT WAIT… DON’T TELL ME.
LANCE REDDICK: Thank you. Thanks.
SAGAL: Let’s just talk about these movies. So these movies – the first one came out in 2014 – Keanu Reeves plays an assassin. OK. But it turns out there’s this strange society of other assassins and criminals. And, among other things, they have this hotel where they can all stay. And you are the concierge, right?
REDDICK: Yes. Technically, I’m the concierge. Yes.
SAGAL: Yes. And when they came to you with this part, what did they tell you about this hotel and this guy?
REDDICK: (Laughter) They didn’t tell me anything. They said, here’s a script. Read it.
REDDICK: But, I mean, to be fair, you know, once I read it, I was just really, really, really intrigued by the role, partly because I never get to play stuff like this. I tend to play intimidating authority figures that talk a lot.
SAGAL: You – I have to say, you have – again, being a fan mainly of “The Wire” – a pretty intimidating presence when you want to. Do you use that in real life, like, when your kids are misbehaving?
REDDICK: Yeah. That never worked.
SAGAL: Not ever. That’s a shame.
SAGAL: Because I – if I…
REDDICK: I thought so.
SAGAL: So let’s talk about “John Wick.” So you play this guy. I notice in the first two movies, first of all, how come you, your character, always has to end up looking after John Wick’s dog? That doesn’t seem right to me.
REDDICK: That’s obvious. It’s because I’m black.
SAGAL: You went right there, man. I didn’t want to do that.
HELEN HONG: Wow.
ADAM FELBER: Well, now it makes sense.
REDDICK: I’m going to die in the first frame – I have to say that. Yeah.
SAGAL: Oh, I’ve got to ask you this. People ask me this – or rather, I’ve heard people talk about this. What is Charon’s accent?
REDDICK: It is Kenyan. Well, it’s supposed to be Kenyan (laughter).
SAGAL: And what do the Kenyans you’ve met think it is?
REDDICK: Oh, well (laughter), I haven’t done a survey, and I would request that you don’t, either.
SAGAL: All right.
HONG: You’re such a – it’s such a smooth character.
SAGAL: Oh, he’s very smooth.
HONG: He’s very smooth, and you don’t really say much. But you’re just very, like, oh, this guy’s more than a concierge.
SAGAL: I have to ask you – because Keanu Reeves has become such an icon over the years for kind of just, like, laconic silence – we all think of, like, sad Keanu…
SAGAL: Is that what he’s really like on the set? Or is he, like, constantly joking around?
REDDICK: Oh, he’s one of the most thoughtful, sensitive people I’ve ever known.
REDDICK: He’s an extraordinary human being.
SAGAL: So, I mean, I have to – I’m going to tell you that I’ve heard this. I know people who’ve worked with him, and they say he’s a particularly generous actor in terms – he works with people. But his interaction with almost everybody he meets, all the other actors in this movie, is he kills them.
REDDICK: Well, yeah.
SAGAL: So I’m wondering, like, on the set, you know, like, look. I’m doing a scene with, like – oh, let’s say the ninjas. And he says, hey, guys. We’re going to work together. And when I stab you in the eye, I just want you to know I really respect you. Is that…
SAGAL: Is he…
REDDICK: Well, I wasn’t there for those scenes.
REDDICK: But the scuttlebutt on the set was he was very kind.
SAGAL: He was very kind.
FELBER: He only kills people who refuse to take care of his dog.
FELBER: That’s the whole plot of “John Wick,” If you haven’t seen it.
SAGAL: What’s amazing – and I will say this is – the plot of the movie is basically he kills people. But the reason he kills people…
SAGAL: Not a spoiler – the reason he kills people is, in the beginning in the first movie, the bad guys kill his puppy, which is pretty traumatic.
REDDICK: Yeah. No, well, and also, I mean, it was a puppy that was given to him by his late wife.
SAGAL: Nobody cares about that.
SAGAL: It’s this adorable puppy. And freaking Theon Greyjoy…
SAGAL: …Who we all know is a loser, shows up and kills his puppy. So anyway…
SAGAL: So anyway – I’m getting the wires crossed. So anyway…
SAGAL: So in the movie, at the end of the first movie, he then gets a dog. And then, at the beginning of the second movie, the first thing he does is he gives the dog to you.
REDDICK: To be fair, what he does is he asks if the hotel provides services for dog care.
REDDICK: And I say no. However, I’ll watch it for you.
SAGAL: But the thing is – so, like, there’s this dog, and the dog has lived now through the second movie and now the third movie. And I talk to people who say, oh, I saw “John Wick.” It’s really great. It’s even better than the last one. And they say, is the dog OK?
SAGAL: Because it turns out that you can do a movie in which, like, literally 80 people are murdered, and all people care about is the dog.
REDDICK: That is amazing.
SAGAL: Yeah. It’s true.
REDDICK: Yeah. I think that’s a uniquely American phenomenon.
SAGAL: Yeah, exactly.
SAGAL: If there was a moment – if it came down to you and your character and the dog, people’d be rooting for the dog.
REDDICK: Unfortunately, yeah.
SAGAL: Yeah. That’s true.
REDDICK: Yeah. I won’t play the black man card again, but yeah.
SAGAL: Yeah, I know.
HONG: I’m going to see it tonight. And if the dog doesn’t make it, I’m going to, like, kill some people.
SAGAL: You see what I mean?
SAGAL: I’m just going to say to America, go see “John Wick 3” (ph). The dog is fine.
SAGAL: You have nothing to worry about.
Lance Reddick, it is a pleasure to talk to you after being a fan for so long. But we have invited you here to play a game we’re calling…
BILL KURTIS: Anything you need, sir.
SAGAL: So, as we were discussing, in the “John Wick” films, you play this hotel concierge always at the disposal of the guests. Their requests are a little unusual. But we wanted to ask you about the concierges in real life, who have it much harder because instead of assassins, they’re dealing with rich people.
SAGAL: Answer two out of three questions about real-world concierges and the problems they solved, you’ll win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Lance Reddick playing for?
KURTIS: Lucy Morrison (ph) of Baton Rouge, La.
SAGAL: All right. You ready to play?
SAGAL: All right. The concierge at the fancy Carlyle Hotel in New York did what once for a guest’s pampered pet dog? A, arrange for squirrels to be released in front of it on a walk in Central Park…
SAGAL: …So it could feel the thrill of the hunt…
SAGAL: …B, imported sod and grass onto the floor of the room so it could enjoy an outdoor pee without going outdoors; or C, ordered the dog a custom-cooked steak from Japan in a private jet so it would arrive warm?
REDDICK: Wow. That’s a tough one. I’m going to go for the steak from Japan.
SAGAL: No. It was actually this sod and grass in the room.
SAGAL: This very wealthy lady…
REDDICK: Oh, man.
SAGAL: …Had her pet dog. She didn’t want to take the dog outside, but she didn’t want the dog to have to pee on a pad or something. So the concierges brought the lawn to the dog.
SAGAL: All right. You still two more chances here, Lance.
REDDICK: OK. Good, good, good.
SAGAL: The concierge at the Ritz-Carlton Cancun was able to help a guest enjoy his trip to the beach by doing which of these? A, blotting out the sun with a 300-foot-long shade so he wouldn’t get a sunburn; B, calming the waves with the giant boom so he could enjoy his swim; or C, covering the beach with carpets so he didn’t get sand in his toes?
REDDICK: Oh, boy. But yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE: A.
SAGAL: I’m going to give you a hint. This guy apparently had something in common with the dog in the prior question.
SAGAL: He had sensitive toes.
REDDICK: OK, C.
SAGAL: Yes, it’s C.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Last question. Sometimes, concierges have to say no, as when a guest at a safari lodge in Africa asked for what? A, a lion to walk up to his girlfriend with the engagement ring around his neck…
SAGAL: …B, a giraffe ride or C, a chance to hunt the most dangerous game – man.
REDDICK: Wow (laughter). I mean, actually, no to all of those.
REDDICK: The lion.
SAGAL: The lion is right. That’s what…
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: …The guy wanted.
SAGAL: The concierge had to explain that if they arranged for the lion to walk up to the girlfriend, it would be a very brief engagement.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Lance Reddick do on our quiz?
KURTIS: Two right – as you know, that wins in our book.
SAGAL: Lance Reddick stars in the new film “John Wick 3 – Parabellum” (ph). Lance Reddick, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT… DON’T TELL ME.
REDDICK: Thank you.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “GOTTA SERVE SOMEBODY”)
TOMMY CASTRO: (Singing) You’re gonna have to serve somebody. Oh, you’re going to have to serve somebody. It might be the devil, it might be the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yeah.
SAGAL: In just a minute, we keep very, very quiet in our Listener Limerick Challenge game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to join us on the air. We’ll be back in a minute with more of WAIT WAIT… DON’T TELL ME from NPR.
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