Mel Gibson cast in new John Wick series

Mel Gibson has been cast in the new John Wick prequel series, The Continental.

The controversial Oscar winner has signed up to the new series, which is set 40 years before the events of the first film in the Keanu Reeves-fronted franchise, according to Deadline.

The new Starz network show derives its name from The Continental hotel, a gathering place for international assassins that serves as the centrepiece of the movies.

Gibson will play a character named Cormac, but there is no word yet on who will star as a young version of Winston Scott, the hotel owner played by Ian McShane in the films. The series will explore the origin story of The Continental, and Scott's attempts to seize control of it.

Speaking about the limited series back in April, Lionsgate TV's Kevin Beggs told Deadline: "It's such a successful franchise, it's on its way to its fourth and fifth instalments as a movie," he said. "It's got such a great mythology and such interesting style, and the 'gun fu' approach of these incredibly poetic stunt aesthetics is just out of this world, which is why the movie with Keanu Reeves - who is so amazing in everything he does but particularly compelling as John Wick in our mind - it just cries out to be something in TV.

Explaining the focus of the show, he added: "What we're exploring in The Continental is the young Winston and how it came to be that he and his team of confederates found their way into this hotel which we have met for the first time in the movie franchise 40 years later.

"That's the arena. I won't give away more than that, but Starz really leaned into this take also, and they have been great collaborators. And how we've approached this first season is as three essentially 90-minute events which you could construe as a limited series or a limited event series."

McShane has ruled himself out of an onscreen role, while Reeves is in talks to be an executive producer.