'John Wick: Chapter 3:' Including a Non-Binary Character Was a "No-Brainer"
In John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum, Keanu Reeves returns for a third round as John Wick, this time evading attempts on his life after a $14 million bounty is placed on his head. Responsible for Wick’s misery is the shadowy organization known as the “High Table,” who are represented by a new character in the series: The Adjudicator, played by Asia Kate Dillon.
Like Dillon, “The Adjudicator” identifies as gender non-binary. While Dillon is not playing the first non-binary character in an action film — last year’s body horror film Upgrade had Kai Bradley play a computer hacker — Dillon’s Adjudicator is the first in a mainstream, big budget Hollywood summer movie.
Dillon, best known for their roles in the Showtime series Billions and the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black, tells Inverse the inclusion of a non-binary character in the John Wick universe was a “no brainer.”
“It was clear to me from reading the script this character, we’ve never met them before. So we have an opportunity to create whatever we want,” they tell Inverse. “I had a conversation with [director] Chad [Stahelski] and Keanu whether or not it mattered this character had a cisgendered identity.”
Recalling that conversation, “I said, ‘You have a real opportunity here. You have a non-binary actor. We can make this character non-binary, and how exciting?” Stahelski and Reeves agreed.
“They were like, yes, of course. The first two films already have such diversity, all kinds of shapes and ethnicities. Including action, you have diversity of martial arts from capoeira to jiu-jitsu to Muay Thai. Adding gender diversity was just a no-brainer for them.”
But just who is the Adjudicator? Without an actual name for themselves, Dillon fills in the blanks that moviegoers may have about the new character in John Wick’s rapidly expanding universe.
“The Adjudicator is there to enforce the binding rules of this shadowy international assassins guild, the High Table. My character plays a really crucial role in the judicial reckoning of John Wick.”
One of the Adjudicator’s tasks in the film is to hire Zero (played by Mark Dacascos), a disgraced assassin who is offered the opportunity to re-enter the world of the Continental should he accomplish killing John Wick.
Dillon’s Adjudicator doesn’t get in on the action for themselves — yet — but Dillon does tease that perhaps in another sequel, the Adjudicator could show John Wick what they’re made of.
“We don’t know yet what sort of skills the Adjudicator has under their belt, so to speak,” Dillon says. “But I’m excited for the possibility of how the Adjudicator might take physical action. For now they’re comfortable not getting their hands dirty, literally.”
The Adjudicator is the second role in 2019 where Dillon has introduced gender non-binary characters to a corner of pop culture. Earlier in January, Dillon voiced Val/Valentina, one of the protagonists in Rooster Teeth’s sci-fi anime gen:LOCK, set in a future Earth where war is waged by giant robots. The series also stars Michael B. Jordan, David Tennant, and Maisie Williams.
“It was totally awesome,” Dillon says of their first anime voice-over role. “It’s very different because I’m in a room behind a microphone and the Rooster Teeth team are being Skyped in. I’m being directed in my ear.”
It was Rooster Teeth’s idea to include a non-binary character in gen:LOCK. “When they came to me, ‘Do you want to play this non-binary character in an anime?’ I said ‘Hell yes!’ I had never done anything like that before. And the reception has been incredible. The fans of gen:LOCK are the best.”
Unlike the Adjudicator, who is a cold, difficult-to-read avatar of a shadow organization with no real identity of their own, Val/Valentina (they transition in the series) is their own person.
“The Adjudicator is one example of what non-binary can look like. The Adjudicator is high fashion, high-femme, very European. Very sensuous fabrics, velvet and silk. I love that you have a non-binary person dressing in a femme way but their femme wardrobe doesn’t make them a woman.”
Val, meanwhile, “is a little more masculine presenting. A little more butch. I love getting the chance to portray different versions of what a non-binary identity can look like. The more examples we have, particularly of people of all backgrounds, ethnicities, tones, the better the world will be.”
Like a lot of characters in John Wick’s world, the Adjudicator isn’t revealing too much about themselves. That’s just how one survives in this morally bankrupt world where life and death is just part of the economy.
“The Adjudicator’s ultimate motivations are to get in, get out. They didn’t make the rules. They’re just there to enforce them.”
John Wick: Chapter 3 — Parabellum hits theaters on May 17.