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The Elder is not a man you find. He can only choose to find you. You wish to speak with him? Go to the edge of the desert, look up. Canis Minor. The dog that followed Orion through the sky. You follow the brightest star. Walk until you are almost dead. Then, keep walking. When you are on your last breath, he will find you. Or he will not.
~ Berrada about the Elder.
Cast aside your weakness and reaffirm your fealty to the Table.
~ The Elder
The choice is yours. Die here and now, or continue to live and remember through death.
~ The Elder to Winston.
The Elder is the overarching antagonist of John Wick film series. He is a mystical crime boss who resides in the desert and is also the de-facto leader of the High Table.
He was portrayed by Said Taghmaoui, who also played Sam/Suárez in Vantage Point.
On the run from the High Table following his killing of Santino D'Antonio, an Italian mob boss and one of the organization's members, John Wick travels to the desert and follows the Canis Minor constellation to find the Elder in order to seek penance. After passing out from dehydration, John Wick is found by some of the Elder's men and brought to his tent, where the Elder has John presented to him.
After John wakes up the Elder asks him why he wishes to live to which John replies that it is because he wishes to remember his late wife Helen. The Elder tells him that he may be allowed to continue living if he pledges himself to personally serve the High Table and has a board with a knife on it handed to John for John to cut his own finger off as a sign of loyalty.
After John mutilates his ring finger and gives his wedding ring to the Elder, the Elder instructs John to kill Winston, who had refused to show fealty to the High Table and give up his position as manager of the Continental. John reluctantly accepts the mission and is led into a room in the Elder's tent where a new suit is waiting for him to help him carry out the task.