Simplicity is key to the “John Wick” franchise, both in terms of the overall approach and the details. As Derek Kolstad told /Film in 2017, “[Keanu Reeves] came on board, and I worked with him so much on the script. Paragraphs of his dialogue became ‘uh-huh,’ or a look.” Paring down the dialogue was part of what helped build the mystique of the so-called Baba Yaga, and Kolstad’s original spec script was called “Scorn” before it ended up with the “John Wick” title.

Kolstad, who hails from Madison, Wisconsin and who moved to LA 15 years prior to selling his “Scorn” script, had been working towards his big break since giving up a career in business administration. But he always maintained a sense of his past when writing screenplays. As he told Collider, “If you go back to any other specs [I’ve written], you’re gonna see all of the credited names on the posters for ‘Dirty Dozen,’ ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,’ ‘Ronin,’ because they were on my walls.” And when it came to “Scorn,” he borrowed directly from his own life.

Speaking to Madison Magazine, the writer revealed that he named the lead character after his own grandfather. The original John Wick was about as far from a highly-skilled assassin as you can get. A businessman who founded Wick Building Systems in Madison in 1955, Wick told the magazine, “I was tickled by Derek using my name for a movie, and the hitman character was frosting on the cake.”

Originally, John Wick wasn’t expecting to have his name plastered all over posters and promotional material. But thanks to Reeves, not only did the businessman have his name in a movie, he soon became the title.