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MOVIES Non-binary actor Asia Kate Dillon talks 'John Wick 3,' 'Billions'
by Jerry Nunn, Windy City Times
2019-05-05

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Asia Kate Dillon is known for the role of Taylor Mason on the Showtime series Billions, earning a Critics' Choice Television Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series. When submitting for an Emmy Award, Dillon was allowed to choose either actor or actress.

Dillon is non-binary and uses "they," so they chose actor because it's a gender-neutral word. They continually break glass ceilings along the way, in a career that may slowly revolutionize the industry and impact the treatment of gender in the future.

Dillon now joins the cast of the John Wick movie franchise, with the third installment still following the saga of the hitman played by Keanu Reeves. This new Lionsgate film continues with Wick fighting his way out of New York after being targeted by the world's top assassins. Dillon joins the cast, playing The Adjudicator, a member of the High Table.

Windy City Times: Where are you calling from?

Asia Kate Dillon: I'm in New York City. I live here.

WCT: When are you visiting Chicago?

AKD: I have been to Chicago before and I have to say I was there in the dead of winter. I have never been so cold and I am from Upstate New York!

WCT: Were you a fan of the John Wick movies before being cast in this one?

AKD: I was. Back in 2015, my mom sent me an email that said she was excited about this movie coming out with Keanu Reeves. She was my gateway into the John Wick franchise. I loved the first two.

When I got the call that Chad Stahelski wanted to meet me about being in the third one. I said yes to being in it before I even read the script, after meeting Chad of course. I was just thrilled at the possibility of being a part of this world.

WCT: What can you tell readers about your role?

AKD: The Adjudicator is the enforcer of the binding rules of this shadowy assassins guild, the High Table. My character plays a crucial role in the judicial reckoning of John Wick, now that he has a $14-million bounty on his head. He's killed a member of the High Table.

The Adjudicator enlists the help of a character called Zero, a shinobi ninja warrior, who gives Zero the task of going after John Wick to kill him. You saw what happens…

WCT: Are you intense like The Adjudicator in every day life?

AKD: I don't know. You have to ask people that know me. [laughs] It was really important to Chad and Keanu that this character would be able to walk into a room and unsettle everyone, even people that can't be unsettled, like Winston and John Wick. We talked about a character that had a quiet intensity and power, someone that had total confidence in what they were doing.

An adjudicator doesn't make the rules. They just enforce them. It's a fairly straightforward job for them.

WCT: Do you have a good story about Keanu?

AKD: Keanu is so warm, gracious and intelligent. We have a few scenes together which meant we were on set together a couple of times. Honestly, we had totally normal conversations. It was a real pleasure working with him.

WCT: Why do you think chapter three is better than the rest?

AKD: Part three expands the world more. It's really fun for me to play a character that takes the audience deeper into the John Wick world. We get to learn more about the High Table. We get to see more locations, not only in New York, but Morocco. The film travels.

People get to see more of the mythology and philosophy around John Wick. Here is a human that has suffered devastating loss. Because he has been an assassin, we get to see the way he deals with that loss.

What Keanu and the team at 87Eleven have managed to accomplish is stunning and groundbreaking. There are action sequences that are minutes long and you can see Keanu's face. It's really him doing it. There aren't cutaways. You can watch it all unfold in front of you in real time. It's incredible to watch.

WCT: How do you feel Hollywood is doing these days with non-binary actors?

AKD: I can only speak from my experience. I am seeing more non-binary roles crop up in various places. The fact that I am a non-binary identifying person playing a non-binary character in a franchise like John Wick, which has worldwide acclaim and fanbase, is incredible.

It increases my visibility and platform and I can get my message out to more people. We need to fight for more representation for trans women of color and gender non-conforming people of color. The people who started this revolution, long before I was born, continue to be the most marginalized from the movement that they began. We certainly have made progress and we just need to keep fighting.

WCT: Do you feel the categories for awards with currently being Best Actor and Actress a bit outdated? Shouldn't it just be Best Performer?

AKD: I do feel it should be Best Performer. We don't have Best Directoress or Best Cinematographeress. We don't have other categories where we separate people by their assigned sex or identity. If we separated people by hair, eye or skin color that would be archaic. Separate is never equal. Separating people by their assigned sex or gender identity before we judge or award their art is archaic.

Now I think if people want to be identified as actresses fine. I'm not going to tell people how to identify, but when it comes to judging and awarding art, one category like we have for director or editor will do.

WCT: What is the best thing about Billions?

AKD: I know I am on the show, but as a fan of that show I feel like I never know what is going to happen. If I think I know what is going to happen, a totally opposite thing happens. When we get scripts we have table reads before we shoot the episodes. We think it is going to go one way, then by the end we can't believe how they came up with things. We will get five episodes and find out it's a long game and not a short game.

It manages to be both entertaining and also a fairly accurate depiction of how money and power function in this country, and the way they corrupt absolutely.

WCT: What are you working on next?

AKD: I wrapped The Outside Story. I am really excited about that movie coming out. Working with Brian Tyree Henry was really phenomenal. He's so talented, kind and funny. That is coming up soon.

I am also working on my first EP. I am a singer, dancer and performer. I have been working on and writing my own songs for quite a while. The time feels write to put it out there to the world. I hope people love it!

John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum opens in theaters May 17.


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