A new John Wick movie is coming out this month, which means series director—and former Keanu Reeves stunt double—Chad Stahelski is doing the interview rounds, And, seeing as how one of Stahelski’s first stunt performer roles was standing in as Brandon Lee’s replacement in The Crow, the topic of using real guns on film sets naturally came up during a chat with The Hollywood Reporter. Stahelski filled in for Lee after he was accidentally shot while filming a scene for the 1994 movie and later died from his injuries, with Lee’s face superimposed onto Stahelski’s body for the unfinished scenes.
He doesn’t specifically talk about The Crow during this interview, but he does say—when asked about the Rust shooting—that any accidents he has “been around, seen, or been part of” were “always” because of “human error” and not anything “mechanical.” In other words, guns function the way guns are supposed to function, even with a blank in place of a real bullet (“The concussive force coming out at the end of the barrel would be enough to shatter your skull. Accidents like that did happen and people died because of it.”).
But, Stahelski explains, they have plenty of ways around that now, including “electronic guns, plug guns where it is impossible for anything to come out of the barrel, and total CG.” He says “that’s the way we do it,” and that the “technology is out there for everybody,” and yet some film shoots still use real guns despite that.
The reason for that, according to him, is simple: “It comes down to the fact that it would cost certain people a great deal of money to switch over.” He points out that all of the real guns supplied to movies by prop houses and armorers would suddenly be useless if everyone started using fake weapons, and the movie studios don’t want to deal with that. “You don’t need firearms,” he argues. “The alternative is just going to cost you more money.”