Is there anything Keanu Reeves can’t do? According to the folks behind the new action-horror-comedy Day Shift, the Matrix star played a role in getting the Netflix title off the ground, and he isn’t even in it.
Day Shift stars Jamie Foxx as a vampire-hunter named Bud Jablonski who uses his day job as a pool cleaner in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley to case the houses of bloodsuckers. This movie is directed by stunt coordinator-turned-first-time filmmaker J.J. Perry and produced by Chad Stahelski, director of the John Wick movies (and himself a former stuntman).
“You’ve got this average Joe, Bud Jablonski, who’s trying to make a living for himself, make ends meet,” says Stahelski. “It’s just the way he’s doing it is very extraordinary: by hunting vampires. It’s your working-class guy trying to keep his family together, trying to pay the bills, rather than some hyper-glorious vampire hunter who’s saving the world. This is a guy who just wants to get braces for his kid, he just wants to pay for her school, he just wants to get his truck fixed. Every one of us can relate to it.”
Director Perry, an Army veteran, has had a long friendship and professional history with Stahelski, and worked as the supervising stunt coordinator on 2017’s John Wick: Chapter 2.
“Chad Stahelski is one of the first people I met when I got out of the Army,” says the Day Shift helmer. “We came up through the stunt business together through the ’90s, and I helped him with with the action [on] John Wick 1, with John Wick 2. After John Wick 2, a ton of people started throwing scripts at me. They were like, ‘Oh, you’ve got to direct, you’re next.'”
Stahelski decided to board the project as a producer after a night out with Reeves and Perry in London, where the latter was working as a stunt coordinator on F9.
“We were all in London,” recalls Stahelski. “I think Keanu was doing a little pre-release press for John Wick 3 and we’d all met up. We were having a little drink in this very mellow lounge-y kind of environment. Keanu’s known J.J. for years. It’s just nice to sit and talk when there’s no press or anything. And then, two Scotches in, you start going, ‘Oh, that would be great,’ and you literally stop the party, and it becomes this whole creative session.”
At one point in the evening, Stahelski asked Perry if he was working on any projects which he could help get made. As it happened, Perry was trying to get Day Shift off the ground and had already shot some trial action footage with contortionists playing vampires.
“I emailed him the [footage] of the fight,” Perry says. “As soon as he saw it on the way to Heathrow, he said, ‘Holy f—, how’d you get those girls to do that? Oh, my God, it’s ridiculous.’ By the time he landed in LAX he was, like, ‘We’re f—ing making this movie.'”
If Day Shift is well received, don’t be surprised to find Perry and Stahelski reteaming for a sequel or two.
“Well, this is the Day Shift,” says Perry. “You know we’ve got to do the Night Shift. And then we’ve got to do the Graveyard Shift, baby. Come on, bro!”
The cast of Day Shift also includes Dave Franco, Snopp Dogg, and Karla Souza. The film is now available to watch on Netflix.