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SYFY WIRE The Continental: From the World of John Wick

The Continental: Why Colin Woodell Didn’t Try To "Match” Ian McShane’s Winston From John Wick Films

To play a younger Winston, Colin Woodell had to put his own spin on things.

Colin Woodell as Winston Scott in The Continental: From the World of John Wick

There are a lot of reasons to be excited about The Continental, Peacock's upcoming John Wick prequel series that marks the first TV foray for the beloved action franchise. But perhaps the most intriguing is the show's opportunity to explore the life and mind of a young Winston Scott, the unfazed proprietor of the New York Continental Hotel played in the films by Ian McShane.

For the series, creators tapped actor Colin Woodell to play a young version of Winston, who arrives in New York in the 1970s inserted into the hotel's drama, and setting out to build his own fiefdom in the crime world. We see the results of that work in the John Wick movies, which means the challenge of the series is in showing us how Winston became that guy. 

RELATED: Everything To Know About Winston Scott Before The Continental Premieres

Speaking to IGN about working on the character, Woodell described his Winston as "a completely different person" from the one we meet in the films, and even revealed that he hadn't seen the John Wick movies before he got the role, preferring instead to put forward a version of the character in auditions that wasn't completely informed by Ian McShane's performance. Once he did get the role, though, he went back and took a look at what McShane did with the character, and found clues to his performance waiting for him.

“The first time you meet Winston [in 2014’s John Wick] – ‘have a drink and relax,’ that whole thing – there's just a sense of ease in this world,” Woodell said. “He's so comfortable in a universe that is just dark and mysterious and very threatening. And Winston just has this air to him where he doesn't really care. You also see it in John Wick 3 when John and Charon are battling all the High Table soldiers and he's just sitting in his vault sipping a whiskey with the pit bull. It's just like, ‘oh, this guy doesn't really give a s***.’ “

Then there was the issue of Winston's voice, which is of course McShane's own iconic way of speaking. To find his own version of the voice, Woodell worked with the show's creators to imagine a Winston who has roots in London that he can never fully escape, giving the English tinge to Winston's voice. But even as he crafted his own take on the character's speech, Woodell also knew he didn't want to copy McShane. 

“I really liked the idea of Winston coming back to New York and having this tie to home that he can't escape and that shows in the reflection of his voice,” Woodell explained. “And I really didn't want to match what Ian was doing because Ian does something really specific and it's hard to gauge exactly what it is, and it makes him so special.”

You can see more of Woodell's new take on Winston when The Continental premieres this September on Peacock.