Why “The Gray Man” Dumped Dhanush and Kept His Character Alive

  • Bollywood star Dhanush has a scene-stealing role in Netflix’s ‘The Gray Man’.
  • Insider asked directors Anthony and Joe Russo in June how his casting went in the film.
  • The Russos teased that he had a story they wanted to talk about more in the future.

Netflix’s expensive ‘The Gray Man’, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, may feature Hollywood stars Chris Evans and Ryan Gosling, but it cleverly incorporated Bollywood star Dhanush as a stage partner for the killer. of Gosling’s CIA who manages to get the best of him briefly late in the film.

If you’ve seen the film, an adaptation of Mark Greaney’s bestselling novel of the same name, you might have been pleasantly surprised that the Russos didn’t just insert the beloved action star for a little cameo before to kill him.

Instead, Dhanush’s character, assassin Avik San aka the Lone Wolf, leaves the film very much alive and will likely return for the recently announced spin-off or sequel to the film.

Dhanush in The Gray Man

Dhanush in “The Gray Man”.

Paul Abell/Netflix

During an in-person chat with the Russos in late June, Insider asked the directing duo what inspired the casting of Dhanush and why they made it a point not to kill him in a quick cameo.

The two told us that their time with Marvel Studios, making a total of four films, including “Avengers: Endgame,” helped them in their decision-making process.

“Part of the global storytelling is that you’re trying to invite more people to watch the movie from their perspective,” Joe Russo told Insider. “Movies have been so American-centric, so Anglo-centric for so long.”

“One of the biggest benefits of working with Marvel is that we’ve been able to travel the world and meet fans up close and talk to them and culturally understand where they’re coming from when they’re watching stories. “, Russo continued, adding, “Bollywood has a history as rich as Hollywood and has incredible talent and stars who just don’t get a platform on a bigger stage.”

Promoting Marvel movies in India has allowed the Russos to connect with other talent, including Priyanka Chopra who stars in their upcoming Amazon Prime sci-fi thriller “Citadel.” The two also shot Netflix’s “Extraction,” in part, in the country.

Fans online were really excited to see the extent of Dhanush’s role in the film.

As the Russos told us back in June, they were very aware that the comments in “The Gray Man” trailer weren’t about Evans or Gosling so much as Dhanush.

Dhanush fan comments on The Gray Man trailer

If you visited any of the film’s YouTube trailers prior to the film’s release, the comments section was peppered with love not for Evans or Gosling, but for the Bollywood star’s appearance in the film, something the Russos took over.


“We’re lucky to use Dhanush,” Russo added, teasing that they already have plans for the actor’s return. “We weren’t interested in him playing a unique character who just shows up to be defeated by the lead in the movie. He’s as talented and determined as Gosling is in the movie. He has a story that will allow him to come back into the narrative at some point – as his own hero.”

The weekend after the $200 million film was released on Netflix, the streamer announced that a sequel to “The Gray Man” as well as a spin-off movie are already in the works with the Russos and Goslings returning.

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo on the set of

Anthony Russo and Joe Russo on the set of “The Gray Man” with Chris Evans.

Paul Abell/Netflix

It’s likely that Dhanush’s character will play an important role in at least one of these projects.

“We wanted to create a lot of tension around this character,” Anthony Russo told Insider of Dhanush’s Lone Wolf in June. “The Gray Man doesn’t get over it. Dhanush decides to let the conflict play out on its own. He’s the character we’ve seen the best of ‘The Gray Man. That’s what we know of him. For us, he is very pregnant in the future.”

“The Gray Man” is now streaming on Netflix. You can read our longer interview with the Russos here.

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