In a recent interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, director Chad Stahelski discussed his approach to adapting the iconic 1986 fantasy film, Highlander. With Henry Cavill attached to play the immortal Scottish swordsman Connor MacLeod, Stahelski hinted at his plans to potentially launch a series of Highlander movies. He stated that the intention is not to rush the first film to the original’s conclusion, where MacLeod becomes the sole survivor of a group of dueling immortals in the climactic Gathering.
“I think we have some very good elements now,” Stahelski revealed. “The trick is when you have the tagline ‘there can only be one,’ you can’t just kill everybody the first time.” This suggests that Stahelski wants to give the Highlander franchise room to grow and develop over multiple films.
In addition to the new film, Stahelski also mentioned incorporating elements from the 1992 syndicated Highlander TV series, which ran for six seasons. “Our story engages a lot of the same characters, but we’ve also brought in elements of all the TV shows,” Stahelski explained. “We’re trying to do a bit of a prequel — a setup to The Gathering — so we have room to grow the property.” This approach will not only please fans of the original film, but also those who followed the TV series and are familiar with its characters and mythology.
While Stahelski isn’t thinking of John Wick as a franchise, he sees Highlander as having potential for a larger universe. “We have ideas for days for the coolest characters [that could make for] an epic TV show,” he said. “I just think that’s rich mythology when you can pick any period of time, any nationality, any culture, any type of person and make them an immortal that have to duel and deal with the burden of immortality — that’s fucking cool.” Stahelski’s enthusiasm for the mythology of Highlander is apparent, and it is clear that he wants to explore these concepts and characters in more depth.
The original Highlander film is often regarded as a cult-classic, with its mix of fantasy, action, and immortal sword-wielding. Stahelski acknowledges that the film shouldn’t work given its disparate and sometimes cheesy elements, yet somehow it remains highly entertaining. He recognizes the challenges of adapting the original while staying true to its essence, but also injecting his own vision and style.
Stahelski has been developing the Highlander reboot since 2016 and has spoken previously about his choice of Henry Cavill for the lead role. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stahelski explained his reasoning for choosing Cavill: “Henry obviously has the physicality, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t also carry the empathy of a character that’s lived 500 years, and I needed somebody who could do both. The character’s arc spans hundreds of years and he becomes many different personalities, all of which extend the timeline of his emotional growth. Then during our first meeting, my suspicions were confirmed: Henry was immediately riffing on the idea of the burden of immortality and you could see in his eyes that he can transform himself from being a young, vibrant soul to an old, wise soul.”
Stahelski praises Cavill’s versatility as an actor and his genuine love for the Highlander property. He believes that Cavill’s passion for the role will result in a unique and captivating performance. Stahelski admires Cavill not only as an actor but also as a person, stating, “And finally – you’ve met him, you know – after 10 minutes you’re just like: ‘He’s cool, I want to hang out with this guy.’”
In summary, Stahelski’s approach to the Highlander reboot involves expanding the story into a potential series of films. He plans to incorporate elements from the original film and the TV series, creating a prequel that sets the stage for the climactic Gathering. Stahelski envisions a rich mythology and a franchise that explores various time periods, nationalities, and cultures. With Henry Cavill in the lead role, Stahelski is confident in the actor’s ability to convey the emotional depth and complexity of an immortal character. Fans of the Highlander franchise can look forward to a fresh take on the beloved story, with Stahelski at the helm bringing his unique vision to the project.