John Wick: Chapter 4 tracker Shamier Anderson takes over the world
After director Chad Stahelski picked Anderson to play Keanu Reeves’ bounty hunter Tracker, the actor told IndieWire he tapped into his Disney Channel alum-meets-kung-fu-master roots.
You might not know Shamier Anderson’s name yet, but it’s safe to say his career is worth keeping an eye on.
Anderson plays Tracker, aka Nobody, in the newly released critically acclaimed franchise series John Wick: Chapter 4. Tracker is both a crowd pleaser and a welcome contrast to the sleek stylings of John Wick (Keanu Reeves) and high table boss the Marquis (Bill Skarsgård), but it’s Anderson’s effortless humor, deep martial arts background, and even his collaboration with “John Wick.” : Parabellum” star Halle Berry, making him the perfect complement to Reeve’s emotionally distant lead.
Anderson starred in Berry’s 2020 directorial debut, Bruised, which executive produced by John Wick director Chad Stahelski.
“Chad was instrumental in being a part of this film. We actually crossed paths on that set, and I was working on that film, not too much of a major role. It was an important part, but not enough for Chad to stand out in my opinion, enough to want me in his next franchise,” Anderson said in a recent interview with IndieWire.
“So that was a big surprise. One day I was hanging out at the gym and I got a call from my agent. Usually these things in Hollywood can either be like molasses and take a long time to get a job, or they can be like rapid fire and say, ‘Call now, get on a plane tomorrow, and set up a camera on Saturday.’ And that was the case. I got a call from my agent saying ‘I have something really important, are you really available? Chad Stahelski from “John Wick” wants to meet.’ And I said, ‘Okay, cool, but I’m in the gym right now, hitting pads in Toronto. Is he cool with that?’ So I jumped on a zoom with him when I was at the gym and he was like, ‘Did you plan that?!’ And I was like, ‘No, this is my morning routine.'”
Anderson continued, “And he said to me, ‘Hey, I have this movie called ‘John Wick 4.’ If you’re interested, take a look at the script and it’s yours.” I was like, ‘This is it?!’ And that was it. I read the script and fell in love with the tracker role. And he said, ‘Great, if you love it, you’ve got to get on a plane in about 48 hours.'”
Anderson admitted he felt in the role of “responsibility” when he joined the “family affair” of the “John Wick” franchise.
“To be invited to the fourth film party, there’s a sense of responsibility, there’s a weight, there’s fear, because everyone is in their groove and in their flow, especially since Tracker is already a disruptor in his own right,” Anderson said. “It was important to know that I had to bring my A-game. Fortunately for me and for Chad – and I say this with pride and the utmost humility, but also with confidence – I’m doing it. I’m really doing it. I do martial arts. I am a kung fu practitioner. I love martial artist athletics and working out in the gym and tossing my body around. If anyone knows me personally, I do that every day, all day. So getting that opportunity feels like iron sharpening iron.”
While it sounds like Anderson was already part of The Continental’s family offset, he deepened the tracker character with connections to his own personal experiences.
“Like a college student afraid of failing his exam, I am concerned about not telling these people the truth and living their life. So that’s where it comes from: fear. It’s not pretentious. It’s nothing in that area,” he said.
Anderson added, “I felt like it [Tracker] was the most relatable person for that audience. He didn’t wear the crazy clothes and didn’t do the crazy things. He didn’t really believe in the themes of The Continental. So I wanted to root it in, ‘How do I make this guy adorable even though he has a vicious puppy? How do I make this guy lovable when he’s after John Wick?’ I said, ‘What is his motivation?’ And I don’t talk about it too much. Hopefully it can be earned in some derivative of that story, be it a tracker spinoff or tracker series or something. But I thought of his mother. Why would anyone want an inordinate amount of money? Why would anyone want $50 million for someone outside of this fantastic world? I had a feeling it was about his mother. Why his mother? I think that’s the secret I’m definitely going to hold onto until we get to that next phase and hopefully I can get back into Tracker’s shoes. I was concerned with this person.”
Could Tracker’s story tie into Berry’s former co-star’s “John Wick” role as Sofia, who, like Tracker, has a murderous Belgian Malinois dog sidekick?
“I think it’s definitely worth exploring [of their connection]’ Anderson said. “I mean, we’re two characters in this franchise that have dogs. We happen to be black. We could be related. She could be a sister, a grandmother in the distant future. Who knows? mother, who knows. And I think there is room for exploration. And I think the audience wants it.”
Berry previously told IGN in 2022 that she could “possibly” return for a spin-off. The John Wick franchise has since fueled two prequels, the upcoming film Ballerina starring Ana de Armas and the TV series The Continental.
But Anderson is waiting for Stahelski to call him again before he can reveal too much John Wick lore.
“I’m obviously in the throes of the press and everything I’m up to. Everyone is so excited about Tracker: “What’s his real name? What is the name of his government?” Those are things I would love [to know]’ Anderson teased. “I said, ‘What if the tracker is a bounty killer? What if he was a bounty hunter hunting all the craziest people in the world? I’m talking like everyone in the story. What if this is someone who really has been chasing down all the bad boys, bad girls, bad villains in the world?’ When we were building this character, I said to Chad, ‘What if Tracker used every John Wick movie as a documentary?’ He actually watched the movie, looked at the ‘John Wick’ franchise as a case study to follow John Wick. And he used the fourth film as an introduction to follow John Wick.”
Working with co-stars Keanu Reeves and Anderson’s fellow franchise Donnie Yen proved “master class” with some of this generation’s best action stars and stunt people.
“I want to give his flowers to Donnie Yen because he’s such a remarkable talent, who’s such a nice, nice man, and he really, really loves filmmaking and martial arts. I do wing chun kung fu and if you know Donnie’s work, Donnie played Hitman, the wing chun practitioner. I’ve seen all his films and then I’m literally in the arena shooting scenes with him,” Anderson said. “I will never go toe-to-toe with Donnie, not even in a practice match, because this guy definitely stings like a bee and flies like a butterfly. It was insanely cool. Not to sit here trying to play shy, but between acting and editing, I’m a pro. But off screen and off camera, I’m definitely fanboying every moment I get. Privately, of course, when I’m calling my guys like, ‘Holy shit, I’m on set with Ne-Yo right now.'”
Of note, Ne-Yo wrote the original song “I would Die for You” for the fourth film.
Getty Images for Lionsgate
And Anderson’s musical background also fitted into the choreography of the stylized fight sequences for “John Wick: Chapter 4”. As a DJ and dancer, Anderson’s innate rhythm coupled with his martial arts background essentially made him a “John Wick” character in IRL. And yes, Anderson’s roots stretch back to Disney Channel, including roles on Camp Rock 2 and Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.
“Wow, so far back to playback,” Anderson joked. “So I did ‘Camp Rock 2’, where I played a dancer on Camp Star, and I also played a dancer on ‘Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure.’ I think it just goes to show that movement and physicality have been a part of my career from the start. That’s why I’m happy and fortunate to be able to show a different side of me outside of an ensemble dance troupe in these films. And those films served my career well back then and I’m glad I’m where I am now.”
Anderson even has a surprising connection to Austin Butler, a 2023 Best Actor nominee who could very well be the next “John Wick” villain in the inevitable tracker spinoff.
“Holy smokers, we worked together! That’s actually crazy,” Anderson said. “I actually worked with Austin Butler [‘Sharpay’s Fabulous Adventure’]. I don’t know if he’ll remember it.”
Anderson next stars opposite Jamie Foxx and Robert De Niro in the action film Tin Soldier and is producing a limited series about artist Jean-Michel Basquiat through his production banner Bay Mills Studio. A potential collaboration with Toronto-based artist Drake has also been a dream of Anderson’s since his starring role in Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Getty Images for Lionsgate
“I’m just so lucky. I’m a Toronto kid who loves acting,” Anderson said. “Most actors start out in drama school, drama class, drama school, and you watch and you read about these mighty titans, like the Jamie Foxxes, like the Robert De Niroes, the Keanu Reeveses. And I’m so blessed and happy to be able to share this year with these people. At the end of the day, I bring only the basics of my work ethic: It’s never about you, it’s about the team. And just live truthfully in imaginary circumstances. It’s really easy.”
Anderson summarized, “A director once said to me, ‘Listen, budgets change, the scale and scope of films change. You still have to hit that mark and tell the truth.’ And hopefully I can maintain that in every aspect of the work as I continue this journey. “John Wick” is another moment of that. I’m still human, I still have my moments, I still have a good time and I still get insecure. But when all is said and done, I have to hit the mark and tell the truth.”
John Wick: Chapter 4 is in theaters now.
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https://www.indiewire.com/2023/03/john-wick-chapter-4-tracker-shamier-anderson-1234822710/ John Wick: Chapter 4 tracker Shamier Anderson takes over the world