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16 Cameos In The John Wick Franchise You Probably Forgot About

The "John Wick" franchise — starring Keanu Reeves as the titular super-assassin — has grossed over $575 million worldwide and the fourth installment, "John Wick: Chapter 4," is set to be another blockbuster installment when it hit cinemas on March 24, 2023. Naturally, a lot of the franchise's success is due to Reeves' on-screen presence. The other thing largely responsible for the franchise's success? The tightly coordinated gonzo action set pieces across the series.

From night club shootouts to death by horse bucks to pen fights, director Chad Stahelski seem to find endless ways to see their players shuffle off this mortal coil. So with all this going on, some viewers may forget the third factor in the franchise being a hit: the absolutely stacked cast. From single-scene appearances to cameos to expanded supporting roles, the "John Wick" franchise features musicians, A-list stars, and character actors alike. So before the fourth entry hits screens this spring, check out this list of "John Wick" cameos.

Ian McShane as Winston

First on our list is the actor behind the dashing owner of The Continental, Ian McShane. As a refresher, The Continental is a hotel chain that serves as a weigh station for the working assassin of the fictional crime universe in "John Wick." No business (read contract killing) can be carried out on Continental grounds and gold coins get valued guest rooms, craft cocktails, and even doggy daycare.

McShane's Winston manages the New York Continental, a location that appears in every entry in the franchise. McShane, probably still best known for his show-stopping turn as "Deadwood" resident saloon owner, Al Swearengen, brings the right amount of gravitas and mischievousness to the role. His performance is so good, he's been described as one of the "true heroes" of the franchise.  McShane also has good on-camera chemistry with Reeves and the two really make for convincing old friends (who just have to kill one another).

Dean Winters as Avi

In the first "John Wick," our hero goes to war with a Russian mob boss, Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist), after Viggo's son Iosef (Alfie Allen) kills Wick's dog. While audiences were watching all of this carnage unfold, they may have thought to themselves: is that one guy "Mayhem" from those Allstate commercials?

If you were one of those viewers, you are correct. Actor Dean Winters plays Tarasov's lawyer and advisor, Avi. However, before Winters was Mayhem, he appeared as a character actor across TV and movies and has had a number of roles in some of the biggest shows of the last 20 years. In HBO's heinous (and popular) prison drama, "Oz," Winters plays the Machiavellian inmate, Ryan O'Reily. After "Oz" he took his natural chaotic energy to "30 Rock" where he played Liz Lemon's (Tina Fey) awful boyfriend, Dennis. Winters has also appeared in over 30 episodes of "Law & Order: SVU" as Brian Cassidy and nine episodes of "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" as Keith "The Vulture" Pembroke.

Lance Reddick as Charon

Every upscale hangout for international assassins needs an intimidating valet at its desk and The New York Continental does not disappoint in Charon. Played by Lance Reddick, Charon's height, build, and deep voice makes an immediate impression on all who enter The Continental's doors and viewers alike. He's definitely not somebody anybody would pick a fight with (until people do in "John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum").

A lot of Charon's intimidation factor comes from Reddick's performance and general on-screen presence. Reddick, probably best known for his role as no-nonsense Baltimore Police Major Lieutenant Daniels in "The Wire," has an uncanny ability to ooze calm intensity right off the screen. Whether he's chewing out his subordinates for blowing it in on the job or just simply saying "armor piercing," Reddick makes his character seem cool, collected, and very, very dangerous. Characters like Charon are likely included to expand the world of the "John Wick" franchise, however, his on-screen energy makes Charon so much more than a simple bit player. All of this to say, Reddick elevates most projects he joins.

John Leguizamo as Aurelio

In a surprise cameo, John Leguizamo plays the owner of a chop shop and auto garage, Aurelio. The long-time actor — who's been in a range of movies from "Ice Age" to "Romeo + Juliet" to "The Menu" — turns in a quick, but impactful performance as a garage owner with a fairly nasty clientele. In fact, his performance is pretty essential to the first movie's structure.

Before audiences everywhere knew Wick as the embodiment of all things ludicrous action hero, the film had to sell him that way. So scenes like Aurelio's reaction to discovering Wick has been wronged are necessary to sell Wick's legitimacy as a threat. Obviously, the first movie's boogeyman speech is probably the best example of the ways the franchise quickly establishes Wick's character, but Leguizamo brings legitimacy to his performance that helps the audience understand just how dangerous Wick really is.

Willem Dafoe as Marcus

Another "John Wick" cameo some folks may have forgotten is an appearance from arguably one of the greatest character actors of the 21st century. Who is this great talent that shows up for a part that only amounts to a handful of scenes you ask? It's one Willem Dafoe. In "John Wick," Dafoe brings his singular ability to sell any character in practically any story to Marcus. Marcus is another retired super-assassin (and an old friend of Wick's) who Viggo asks to hunt down Wick for $2 million. Initially, Marcus agrees, but eventually, he saves his old colleague and buddy's life. Since no good deed goes unpunished, Marcus is killed for double-crossing Viggo.

Seriously, Marcus is not in a ton of "John Wick," but Dafoe's ability to show up on screen and present a fully formed character makes every brief moment he does appear all the more believable. It's unlikely they'd ever recast the two men as younger versions of themselves for a prequel, but here's hoping Dafoe's Marcus pops up in a flashback sooner than later.

Common as Cassian

Long-time character actors are not the only reason to check out the "John Wick" franchise. For hip-hop heads out there (who may not already know) Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. aka Common appears in "John Wick: Chapter 2" as Cassian. The plot of "Chapter 2" puts Wick at odds with Common's Cassian when Wick is tasked to assassinate a member of the High Table named Gianna D'Antonio. D'Antonio is the leading member of a Roman crime syndicate and Cassian is her loyal bodyguard. After Wick terminates D'Antonio, Cassian swears revenge, and the two men are off to the brawling races.

Is there a cooler pitch for a movie than Neo vs Common? Probably not. And luckily for fans everywhere the billed fight more than lives up to the hype. Common is more than convincing as a brutal bodyguard and his fights with Wick are considered some of the best shootouts in the series. In fact, reviews of the movie noted just how seamlessly Common slips into the role.

Laurence Fishburne as The Bowery King

If a throwdown with a hip-hop legend wasn't enough to get some fans on board, then a reunion between "The Matrix" heroes, Neo and Morpheus, definitely should be. In "Chapter 2," Wick is forced to go on the run after an enormous bounty is placed on his head. With limited places to turn, Wick goes to the one man he's pretty confident will help him out, The Bowery King, played by none other than Laurence Fishburne. While the pair's relationship is a bit tense (John almost killed The Bowery King back in the day), they do wind up working together in the end.

Fishburne is clearly having a great time playing The Bowery King and the movie is better for his slightly campy energy. Plus, it goes to show just how much a willing actor can bring to a project. In an interview with Collider, Fishburne revealed that he asked Reeves to get him a role in "Chapter 2" after he saw the first movie. Luckily for fans everywhere, Fishburne's role seems to be expanding going into the fourth movie.

Ruby Rose as Ares

In "Chapter 2," Australian actress Ruby Rose joined the cast as one of the many eclectic assassins Wick tangles with over the course of the runtime. As Ares, Rose gets an opportunity to showcase her physical acting chops, not only because she has a brutal throwdown with Wick near the film's climax, but also because her character is deaf and communicates purely through sign language.

To her credit, Rose does a ton without speaking and Ares definitely leaves her mark on the film. What's even more impressive? The decision for Ares to communicate through signs came at the eleventh hour (per Slash Film). So Rose had to quickly learn how to sign for the part — and she was more than happy to do it. While promoting the film during an appearance on "Late Night with Seth Meyers" (via Daily Mail), Rose told Meyers that she thinks it's worthwhile for everybody to learn, however, she did go on to explain that the phrases she learned weren't particularly helpful outside of an action movie.

Peter Stormare as Abram Tarasov

At the beginning of "Chapter 2," Wick pays Viggo's gangster brother, Abram Tarasovm, a visit. As Wick breaks into Abram's warehouse and mows down his goons, Abram recounts Wick's exploits to one of his lackeys. The scene basically functions as a reintroduction to the world of "John Wick" and as a quick reminder of Wick's mythic status within that world. Eventually, Wick breaks into Abram's office and the two men agree to make peace (as a reminder this all occurs after John has killed Viggo in the first film). This scene could've simply functioned as clever exposition, but it's elevated by the man cast as Abram — Peter Stormare.

If you don't recognize the name, you'll probably recognize Stormare's bearded mug. He's appeared in everything from "Fargo" to "Armageddon" to "Bad Boys 2," and he largely plays villains or criminals. However, Stormare's secret sauce is his uncanny ability to imbue his most dangerous characters with comedy. As an example, look no further than his turn as the psychotic killer, Gaear Grimsrud, asking "Where is pancakes house?" in "Fargo." He may only appear in the "John Wick" franchise for a matter of minutes, but the series is better for it.

Franco Nero as Julius

Movie fans get an all-time great cameo in "Chapter 2" when Wick checks into the Roman Continental hotel. After arriving, he meets Roman Continental's manager, played by none other than Italian movie legend, Franco Nero. For the unfamiliar, Nero is a world-famous actor who's been appearing in films since the 1960s. He's also no stranger to action.

In the '60s he led multiple spaghetti Westerns by Sergio Corbucci (who Quentin Tarantino called the second-best director of spaghetti Westerns after Sergio Leone). Together Corbucci and Nero made genre classics like "Django," "The Mercenary," and "El Companeros." And, yes, "Django" was an enormous influence on Tarantio's "Django Unchained," (a movie Nero also has a cameo in). All of this to say, Nero is something of an early action icon. His history makes his appearance in the second movie really special. Wick meets the original Django — what more does anybody want when buying a ticket to theaters?

Halle Berry as Sofia Al-Azwar

"Chapter 3" has no shortage of standout action sequences. From library fights to motorcycle combat to a fight in an antique weapons shop, the third installment is really not pulling any punches. One of the movie's best sequences involves a team-up between Wick, Sofia Al-Azwar, and Sofia's combat dogs. Who's Sofia played by, you ask? Oh, just acclaimed actor and Academy Award winner Halle Berry.

As Sofia, Berry is clearly having an absolute blast alongside her four-pawed partners in crime; two Belgian Malinois shepherds basically walk off with the movie in their brief appearance. They're adorable, and, considering the franchise kicked off with a dog's death, righteously vengeful. In the role, Berry brings the right amount of believability and camera winking that a "John Wick" cameo demands. Plus, "Chapter 3" heavily insinuates the pair have a lot of overlap in their respective super-assassin career history.

Mark Dascacos as Zero

Throughout "Chapter 3," the titular killer is dogged by a deadly operative named Zero. In a hilarious twist on the hunter-and-hunted relationship, Zero is a super fan of Wick's work. He's also more of a cat person. So who brings this bundle of swordsmen skills and fan neurosis to life on the bring screen? One Mark Dacascos. Dacascos may not be a household name (although some viewers may recognize him as The Chairman in "Iron Chef America"), but his career is almost completely full of roles in action extravaganzas. A lot of this comes down to Dacascos' martial arts background and his willingness to do his own stunts.

Even more interesting, however, is that Dacascos was brought into play Zero last minute. In a 2019 interview with Vulture, Dacascos confirmed the part of Zero remained the same, but a lot of his defining characteristics, like having Zero be completely bald and clean-shaven, were Dacascos' ideas. Although Zero doesn't look too good at the end of "Chapter 3," here's hoping he found a way to survive and make it into the next installment.

Asia Kate Dillon as The Adjudicator

Asia Kate Dillon is quickly distinguished as an actor to look out for. Their ability to play fierce and intelligent puts them in the character actor category similar to John Malkovich or Edward Norton. In "Chapter 3," Dillon plays the High Table's Adjudicator. The Adjudicator does exactly what's in their title: they settle disputes. So for the majority of "Chapter 3," the Adjudicator pays visits to all the different people who helped John after he was marked ex-communicated by The High Table.

This means Dillon gets to spend several scenes bouncing off incredible actors including Laurence Fishbourne and Ian McShane. A lesser talent may have acted right off the screen in the presence of such seasoned veterans but Dillon not only holds their own but really sells the Adjudicator as an intimidating presence. Fans may also recognize Dillon as Taylor Mason in Showtime's "Billions," and Brandy Epps in Netflix's "Orange is the New Black."

Anjelica Huston as The Director

As if all the previous entries on the list weren't enough, Hollywood royalty Anjelica Huston appears in "Chapter 3" as the Director. As the character, Huston brings gravitas to a woman who's likely responsible for Wick and overseeing the next generation of super assassins. In the film, as Wick is on the run and needs a ride out of time, he calls in an old favor with Huston's head of the Ruska Roma crime syndicate. She reluctantly agrees and the audience gets to see a bit of insight into John's upbringing.

Judging the rigorous ballet and wrestling clinics on display, Wick's childhood was not an easy one and the Director was definitely a tough-love kind of mom. Naturally, Huston makes an absolute meal out of her limited performance. She's even slated to return in the "John Wick" franchise spin-off, "Ballerina." That film will follow the exploits of Ana de Armas' super assassin and it can't get here fast enough.

Jerome Flynn as Berrada

Once Wick makes it out of the country in the third film, he needs to contact a man known as Berreda who has vital information about "The Elder" (the one man above The High Table). Yes, even the "John Wick" franchise has extensive lore. "Game of Thrones" fans were likely delighted to discover that Berreda is played by none other than Jerome Flynn, the actor whose scene-stealing turn as Bronn of the Blackwater in "Thrones" turned the mercenary into a fan favorite.

Flynn does affect something of an eccentric accent for the part, but Flynn's on-screen charisma and history with adoring TV audiences make his appearance a fun one. It's hard to know whether Berreda's a good guy, a total snake, or a bit of both. Also in a fun bit of trivia, the "John Wick" franchise can boast the presence of an actor whose cover of "Unchained Melody" beat out "Wonderwall" by Oasis on the U.K. charts in the 1990s (per Official Charts). Yes, seriously, it did happen and you check out the song here.

Jason Mantzoukas as Tick Tock Man

Finally, last but not least on our list is the appearance of funny man Jason Mantzoukas as The Bowery King's aide, Tick Tock Man. Mantzoukas' part in "Chapter 3" is very limited; director Chad Stahelski told Entertainment Weekly that they essentially pitched the role to Mantzoukas as a nothing part, but the actor was more than happy to take it.

Given Mantzoukas' unhinged comedy energy on screen (pick anything off his resume from "The League" to "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" to "Big Mouth" as an example) it makes that even simply appearing on camera is enough for the actor to make an impression on the audience, which is exactly the impact director Stahelski was looking for. He was hoping having an actor like Mantzoukas in a smaller role would help expand the universe of the film. Given the ever-expanding nature of Wick's world, it's safe to say that the brain trust behind the series is making the right calls.