David Leitch, the acclaimed stuntman, stunt coordinator, actor, and director, changed the landscape of action movies in Hollywood almost singlehandedly. His dedication to his craft is truly awe-inspiring. 

John Wick Director David Leitch
John Wick Director David Leitch

However, life was not a bed of roses for David Leitch, where he was handed fame in one day. He had to hustle for years and grab every opportunity like it was his last chance to now stand where he does. From Brad Pitt’s stuntman to his director, here is the tale of how David Leitch rose through the ranks.

David Leitch’s Journey From Watching Kung-Fu Movies To Becoming A Stuntman

Born in Kohler, Wisconsin, Leitch spent his formative years obsessing over Kung-Fu classics with his friends. His obsession got to the point where he had a makeshift dojo filled with martial arts books and a fighting dummy made out of PVC piping. 

But as he was growing up, just books and films were not cutting it. So when he joined the University of Minnesota, he joined the Inosanto Academy, which was run by Bruce Lee’s training partner, Dan Inosanto. There he met a fellow student, Stahelski, who was going to change the course of his future.

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John Wick
John Wick

Being clueless about how to capitalize on his knowledge of martial arts and earn a living, he went into the teaching trade like his parents until he got a call from Stahelski. Leitch went to the set and saw people doing stunts and a bell rang in his head that this was how he could utilize his knowledge. 

Thus started the Journey of Leitch leaving teaching and he, Stahelski, and his pals trying to get noticed by stunt coordinators. He was also working as a kickboxing teacher at the time. At that time, David Fincher’s Fight Club lacked a stunt double for Brad Pitt, despite the production being underway. Having recently gotten his Hollywood break with Perfect Target, David Leitch was teaching a few actors some fighting techniques when he noticed someone pointing at him—

“They stood us next to each other and Brad’s like, ‘Yeah, what about this guy?’”

(Via. The Ringer)

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The rest became history, as he pretty much became Brad Pitt’s go-to person for any action film. They worked together in The Mexican, Ocean’s Eleven, Troy, and Mr. & Mrs. Smith

From Stuntman To Biggest Director In Hollywood: The Journey of David Leitch

Stahelski was not done playing his part in Leitch’s career. He tracked down Leitch for The Matrix Reloaded. Stahelski was the stunt double of Keanu Reeves for the first Matrix movie and graduated to being a stunt coordinator for the subsequent sequels. In an interview with Business Insider, Leitch spoke out about how he wanted to go against the wave for this Matrix movie—

“With the experience that Chad had with ‘The Matrix’ and the experience I had working with Ringo, we went forward from that first ‘Matrix’ movie and began to build our style: doing Hong Kong action with an American style.”

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Bullet Train
Bullet Train

When the movie was released, it created a storm in the industry and the two became instantly recognizable. They were stunt coordinating for Constantinople and 300. They also started the second unit directing for Conan the Barbarian and The Hunger Games.

Slowly, David Leitch kept rising through the ranks before he got his big break with John Wick. He was co-directing it with Stahelski and Keanu Reeves, his friend from the Matrix series, accepted the main part and the rest is history. To date, John Wick is one of the most profitable and successful franchises of all time. 

Among his films, the most notable are Deadpool 2, Atomic Blonde, and Hobbs & Shaw.

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