Nobody: What Happened to this Movie?

Let’s be real. If you had to name the most badass action movie of the past few years, what’s the first flick that comes to mind? Yeah yeah, John Wick might be all the rage for teenagers, Liam Neeson continues to do his geriatric Charlie Bronson, and you can never discount Jason Statham and his brand of brutal butt-kicking. But come on, as far as violently visceral and scintillatingly satisfying underdog tales loaded with realistic fisticuffs and gore-sodden gunfights – nobody does it better than Nobody! Indeed, the 2021 cinematic blitzkrieg starring Bob Odenkirk as an unassuming everyman by day and certified ass-kicker by night hit all the right notes to deliver a vicious and delicious revenge dish for the ages. 

With that being said, did you know that a Nobody 2 is currently back in the works? Did you know there were discussions about making a Nobody and John Wick crossover movie? Hell, were you even aware that the entire plot of the movie was inspired by a real-life home invasion experienced by Odenkirk himself? Well, we’re about to dig up all the buried bodies and hidden skeletons in Nobody’s past and give y’all a heaping dose of What Happened to this Movie. 

As alluded to, Nobody was inspired by an idea by Bob Odenkirk after the actor experienced not one, but two, terrifying home invasions in real life. One of the break-ins was particularly traumatic for Odenkirk and his family, with the actor publicly recounting the time that burglars stormed into his house in Los Angeles. After bravely trapping the invaders in his basement, Odenkirk called the police to respond to the crime. However, Odenkirk was so discouraged and dissatisfied with the police response that he imagined what would have transpired if he had taken swift vigilante justice in his own hands and pulled a full-on Steven Seagal in the heat of the moment. 

As Odenkirk continued to envision how things might have played out if he “was a badass” in real life, the idea bloomed into a cinematic story. For Odenkirk, the motivation for the story was meant to explore how “You always wish you’d done more” to protect one’s family in such a harrowing scenario. Apart from the home invasions his family suffered, Odenkirk was also interested in exploring his own internal struggles with aging and feeling irrelevant and ineffectual as his children matured. 

Once Odenkirk’s concept was approved and his casting of Hutch Mansell was announced, Nobody began development in January 2018. John Wick writer Derek Kolstad conceived the story and penned the screenplay for Nobody, with John Wick co-director David Leitch producing the project for STX Entertainment. Around the same time in 2018, Russian director Ilya Naishuller was tapped to direct Nobody on the strength of his breathless action movie Hardcore Henry. By 2019, Nobody swapped distributors after moving from STX Entertainment to Universal Pictures. Christopher Lloyd and Connie Nielsen were cast in the fall of 2019 to play Hutch’s father David and wife Becca, respectively. It was Odenkirk’s idea to cast Lloyd as his father. Naishuller immediately loved the idea and described why he thought the decision worked so well, saying:

“Someone with positive baggage wielding a shotgun and killing people is gonna be more fun to see than someone we’ve seen do that.”

To his credit, Lloyd almost declined the role due to having irritable bowel syndrome. Yet, like a real trooper, Lloyd declined to use stunt doubles for the action scenes and insisted on toting the heavy shotguns in the film on his own. Never mind the IBS, the irony of Doc Brown dumping 1.21 gigawatts of lead on a gang of Russian mobsters only adds to the actors’ towering legend. Believe it or not, Odenkirk and Lloyd share the same birthday, October 22nd, and celebrated together when they both turned one year older while making the movie. 

Following the casting process, Naishuller was pleasantly surprised that Kolstad was not too precious with his screenplay, telling the director that “the best idea wins,” should changes be required. After polishing the script and showing it to his Russian mobster friend, who in turn showed the script to associates in the Obschak (the Russian Mafia), Naishuller was delighted to hear how authentic and realistic the story was. We’ll delve into the efforts taken to make the movie as gritty and hyperrealistic as possible in a bit.

First, it’s worth noting that principal photography on Nobody began on September 30, 2019, and lasted until November 3, 2019. The whole movie was shot in just 34 days, which is quite a remarkable achievement given the excellent final result. Although filming commenced in Los Angeles, California for establishing shots, almost all of the movie was shot in Winnipeg, Canada. For instance, Hutch’s home was filmed at 20 Shillingstone Road in Winnipeg. Meanwhile, the unforgettable bus brawl was filmed on 171 Princess Street.

Speaking of the brutal bus battle, fans need to know that Odenkirk performed all of the fights and stunts in the film himself at age 56 and 57. To prepare for such a physically taxing performance, Odenkirk trained for two years before cameras began rolling. At the height of his training regiment, a famous unnamed actor whom Odenkirk respects greatly asked him why he was so committed to training when the studio could provide people to do the fighting for him. Odenkirk stands by the decision and has publicly stated, “I had so much fun doing the fight scenes!” It was Odenkirk’s idea to bash his head against the rail pole inside the bus. According to Odenkirk in the DVD commentary – which was recorded six months before the film was released – the idea was meant to reinforce Hutch’s status as an everyman rather than an infallible action hero. Odenkirk also trained under Swiss actor and Fight Coordinator Daniel Bernhardt, who plays one of the goons Hutch batters on the bus and knocks his teeth out. Meanwhile, the preamble of the bus fight was originally meant to utilize the song “Ava Marie” by Franz Schubert, suggesting that the Russian thugs were sent to Hutch as a gift from god to soothe his embattled soul. In the end, Steve Lawrence’s version of “I Gotta Be Me” was chosen to start the scene instead.

To backtrack a bit, Nobody was initially meant to open with the harrowing home invasion Hutch and his family encounter. However, to establish the mundane routine of Hutch’s daily suburban life, the opening montage of Hutch’s repetitive domestic cycle was added. 

nobody sequel

Shortly following the home invasion that incites the plot of the movie, Hutch visits a tattoo parlor to find the assailants. The memorable scene features Hutch revealing his perilous past through a tattoo on his wrist. The tattoo resembles a pair of playing cards with the 7 of Spades and 2 of Diamonds. First of all, the number 72 is a numeric code for U.S. Green Berets, a branch of Marines that Hutch belonged to in the past. Furthermore, in Tarot readings, Spades are associated with bad luck, death, and violence. Meanwhile, Diamonds represent jewels, coins, and money. Therefore, in addition to indicating his past with the Green Berets, Hutch’s tattoo signifies that he has dealt with death, violence, and hard luck directly for money and riches in his life. 

Speaking of Hutch’s mysterious past, the character turns out to be revealed as an Auditor and government assassin for the various “three letter agencies.” Hints to Hutch’s true nature are given throughout the movie. For example, the Russian pop song that the main villain Yulian sings in the dance club is titled “Buhgalter” by the band Kombinaciya. “Buhgalter” translates as Accountant, which alludes to Hutch’s role in the film as an intelligence community Auditor. 

Another awesome moment in the movie comes when Hutch is joined by his dad David and his former colleague, Harry, played by Wu-Tang Clan’s Rza. According to Naishuller, Rza only had four days, including rehearsal, to complete his role. However, because he’s seen more action movies than Naishuller has, something the director admitted is “quite rare,” Rza was able to slip right into the violent shootouts without missing a beat. Meanwhile, during the intense shootout at David’s retirement home, Naishuller makes a cameo appearance as a Russian goon sent to kill Hutch’s father. Naishuller’s wife, Darya Charusha, also appears briefly as Yulian’s ruthless henchwoman in the movie. 

Indeed, much of Nobody’s appeal comes from its hyperrealistic violence and palpably painful action scenes. According to Naishuller and Kolstad, this was not an accident. The Firearms Safety Coordinator for the movie – Dave Brown – instructs real police officers and military soldiers on how to shoot targets with pinpoint accuracy. Brown worked closely with Odenkirk and the two spent extensive time together discussing the physical and psychological toll such shootouts would have on the human body and mind. 

Part of turning Hutch from an ordinary suburban dad to a merciless cutthroat killer was to depict the mental and physical agony the character endures throughout the movie. For instance, when the human body suffers enough physical punishment, the perception of time appears to slow down, which is an effect known as Tachypsychia. Hutch also experiences hearing loss and a narrow sense of tunnel vision after taking physical beatings, all of which were deliberate effects used in the movie to underscore Hutch’s realistic sense of pain and discomfort. It’s precisely Hutch’s vulnerabilities that make him easy to relate to and root for, and also sets him apart from most indestructible action heroes.

Considering Odenkirk’s demanding performance and the rapid 34-day filming schedule for Nobody, it’s a minor miracle that the production went smoothly without any major injuries or mishaps. According to the DVD commentary, the biggest issues that arose on set related to whether parmesan cheese should be layered on top of the lasagna during a dinner scene. Connie Nielsen reportedly did not care for the topping and a minor argument broke out on set. Beyond that, Nobody was reportedly made with very few production hitches and hiccups. 

Yet, for as smoothly as the principal photography went, nothing could have prepared Naishuller and the Nobody team for the delayed release caused by the sudden outbreak of COVID-19. Before the pandemic resulted in a global lockdown, Nobody was scheduled to hit theaters on August 14, 2020. Once the outbreak of COVID-19 took place, the release of Nobody was delayed and rescheduled several times. Once the safety precautions were lifted, Nobody was eventually released theatrically on March 26, 2021, eight months after its initial release date. Fortunately, the movie came out when the masses were desperate to return to cinemas, and the movie became a financial success by turning a $16 million budget into a $57.5 million moneymaker worldwide. 

Coupled with the critical plaudits, the commercial success of Nobody led the producers to consider a sequel of some kind. When Nobody bombarded theaters in March 2021, Connie Nielsen expressed her interest in returning for a sequel, declaring that she only took on the hapless role of Hutch’s wife so she could be part of a popular cinematic franchise. 

By June 2021, Derek Kolstad began writing a script for Nobody 2, although the movie was not officially green-lit at the time. At the time, one of the ideas was to potentially make a Nobody and John Wick crossover movie. Remember, Leitch and Kolstad were partly responsible for creating the John Wick franchise and Nobody already has over connections to the popular action series. Secondly, a promotional poster for Nobody is very reminiscent of one of the posters for John Wick 2, with the guns aimed at Wick’s face replaced by fists pointed at Hutch’s head. The first trailer for Nobody also billed the movie as an intense action flick from the makers of John Wick. Also, in Nobody, Hutch discharges an empty magazine clip from his rifle in a way that is identical to the way John Wick does in John Wick 2. Furthermore, the song “The Impossible Dream” by The Quest heard in Nobody was also used in the trailer for John Wick 3

Although the potential for a Nobody and John Wick crossover appears to have been laid, Kolstad claimed that if does materialize, he would like to see small, subtle connections made between the two action franchises rather than a full-fledged mashup. Kolstad also stated that the crossover would be minimal and that Hutch and Wick would be allies if they shared screen time. However, since different studios distribute Nobody and John Wick, it will be difficult to combine the two franchises in the future. When speaking about the potential crossover in March 2021, Naishuller maintained hope and kept the door open, stating: “I mean, everything’s possible. Stranger things have definitely happened.”

nobody 2

While a Nobody and John Wick crossover doesn’t appear likely anytime soon, fans should rest easy knowing that a Nobody sequel continues to pick up steam.

In March 2022, one of the production companies behind the first film – 87North Productions – expressed interest in making Nobody 2. However, no official production date was given. The project lingered for a few more months until David Leitch announced in August 2022 that the studio was committed to producing a Nobody 2. By December 2022, it was announced that a sequel to Nobody was officially in production with a shooting schedule slated for 2023. Most recently, in January 2024, Nielsen confirmed that the sequel is currently in development and that her character will return alongside Bob Odenkirk. At the time, there’s no telling if Naishuller will direct Nobody 2

It’s also worth noting that, along with Nobody 2, Odenkirk is set to star in another action movie called Normal from screenwriter Derek Kolstad. The movie will be directed by Free Fire’s Ben Wheatley, with Odenkirk playing a sheriff named Ulysses in the small town of Normal, Illinois. Nobody producer Marc Provissiero is also set to work on Normal with Kolstad, Wheatley, and Odenkirk. 

With not much else to cover, that’s essentially What Happened to Nobody! The story was inspired by Odenkirk’s real-life encounters with home invaders and became a kind of wish-fulfillment fantasy for the actor to live out onscreen what he couldn’t do in reality. Once the concept was green-lit, the creative forces behind the John Wick franchise – namely David Leitch and Derek Kolstad – propped the film up as a sick cinematic sidekick to the Keanu Reeves vehicle and launched Odenkirk’s newfangled career as an action star. 

Although the film shoot experienced very little drama during a rapid 34-day schedule, the movie’s release was delayed several times due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Fortunately, by the time Nobody stormed the theaters in March 2021, moviegoers were ready to flood the cinemas and the film became a commercial and critical hit. As a result, a potential Nobody and John Wick crossover was flirted with, ultimately leading to the announcement that a standalone Nobody sequel is currently in development. For action movie fans, there’s no better news than hearing that Odenkirk will bring Hutch Mansell back to the big screen sometime in the future!

Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/nobody-movie-2021/

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