Sitting Down With Constantine



Constantine’s Matt Ryan at NYCC 2014

At this year’s New York Comic Con, I got a chance to sit down with John Constantine. That is, I sat with the actor who be playing him this fall on TV.  The show premieres on Friday October 24, but I got to see an advance screening of the series’ pilot the first night of Comic Con.  At the show’s press roundtable, Matt Ryan the star of NBC’s new comic book series, Constantine, as well his co-star, Angélica Celaya, (Zed Martin) and series Executive Producer, David S. Goyer, all spent time with the press to talk about the new series and bringing this very different sort of comic book hero to life for television.


“He’s a dick.”


Watch the first 6 episodes of the show, he’s a dick.  NBC backed that. He’s a big asshole on the show.” Goyer told the press gathered. “We did not water down that aspect, he’s a fucking asshole. That’s what I always loved about John. I have written some the great ‘hero’ heroes, and John is not that, he’s not a hero, He lies, he cheats, he’ll kick people in the balls, he drinks to much and he sleeps around, he’s a total dog. None of that has been changed or water downed in the show.  He’s a dick.”

“As an actor I’ve never done anything this intense.”  Ryan confessed, “I did Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, we did 13 episodes of that. But it was different. It wasn’t this, a big a role as this, it wasn’t every day, 15 hours a day.”  Despite being a dick, Constantine is not completely without his better qualities.  “I think his one biggest redeemable quality is that he’s a humanist.” The actor shared.  “He’s an utter bastard, and he’ll try to achieve, he’ll go about achieving what he needs by any means necessary, but ultimately he can’t but help humanity…  He doesn’t want Hell to interfere he doesn’t want Heaven to interfere. That’s all of him. He’s a working class anti-hero. He’s a man of the people. He’s there for the everyman, and ultimately he’s his kill his best friend to save 1000 people, but if his best friend is the one that’s most important to save, then he’ll kill 1000 people. It’s whatever’s for the greater good.   I think that is a great quality about him.”


Angélica Celaya talks with press at NYCC 2014

Attention turned to Angélica Celaya. Her character, Zed, does not figure into the pilot, until the very end, and even then, as an after thought.    That’s because they producers weren’t originally going to use her.  At least not right away.  Goyer explained, “We finished the pilot. Everyone really enjoyed it, and we were always been thinking about bringing in the Zed character. As we started breaking stories, it became more interesting when we thought about introducing someone who was also part of that world, who can go toe to toe with John .”   The decision to go with Zed meant that Liv, a character created for the show would not return after the pilot. “We didn’t recast Liv. Lucy (Griffiths) did a perfectly fine job. Her story ends in the first of the episode, you see a little glimpse of Zed at the end of the first episode

So Celaya joined the show after the pilot was filmed.  She found the comic book series a great working environment for an actor.  “The whole show is fun.  It’s extremely fun.” Celaya shared.  “I can’t believe I’m actually doing it. From the moment I walked on to the set. I can’t believe I’m actually in the DC world, and portraying Zed.  Being along with Constantine, in that whole dark world of Good vs. Evil.  Every time I get a new script, even if its 3 o’clock in the morning, I will {read it}  What’s happening next?”




David S. Goyer being David S. Goyer at NYCC 2014

Comic fans can expect to see many Hellblazer supporting characters, like Gary Lester and the rest of the Newcastle Group.   “In the map of DC Television, Constantine is in his own occult neighborhood, So if it’s an occult DC character we kinda have access to those characters.” Goyer said.  One of those characters is Jim Corrigan.  “He shows up in episode 5 I think 6? There may be a nod to his eventual future in that episode, and Corrigan is returning in episode 12 or 13 already so he’s already a recurring character in the show.  We have to see if the show catches on in a few weeks, we hope it will.  We’re not going full Spectre yet. It’s a possibility.

“We got another character that fans will know showing up in episode 10 from the occult corner DC Universe.  The way it works, we actually said, Who can’t we have, and for a variety of reasons there are a couple people we can’t have (he didn’t name names,) but we can have most of them.”  

“That episode with Jim Corrigan is awesome. Emmet Scanlan is fucking off the charts, pardon my French.” Ryan gushed.  “He’s awesome and we have has so many great characters coming in, and great actors. It’s just really exciting that this world is expanding.”

We are inspired all sorts of things. We’re inspired by covers, We’re inspired by artwork, and We’re inspired by panels.”  Goyer said.  And it isn’t limited to just the writer’s room.  The show’s technical staff also draws on the visuals and style of the comic book world. “There are lots of Easter Eggs. Our Production designer is an enormous fan, There are all sorts of things in John Constantine’s Lair. There are dozens are little trinkets from the DC universe some that we have featured like the Dr. Fate Helmet (which appears during in the pilot), others that we haven’t in the background, Eclipso’s Black Diamond is there.   But a bunch a things, all the time the crew is sneaking things in,”

The pilot press to date has been mixed, but from what I’ve seen I am optimistic.  The show is limited by the fact that it’s in network TV, trying to do a PG-13 version of an R rated story.  Much has been made about the network edict banning the character from smoking (although that doesn’t keep him from lighting cigarettes, or stubbing them out).  But I find that like fellow  DC comic book television series, The Flash, the show is embracing it’s comic book roots, and is having fun with it.  It’s dark, creepy fun, but it’s fun.  It’s not weighted down with a sense of self importance (cough Gotham cough).

Constantine premieres tonight, Friday October 24, on NBC, at 10pm e/9pm c

Thanks to Nerdy Rotten Bastards for getting a picture of the author (left) with series lead Matt Ryan

Thanks to Nerdy Rotten Scoundrel for getting a picture of the author, me (left) with series lead Matt Ryan


About David Vandervliet

Once, King of all these lands, but now I am just an aging nerd. I enjoy talking about my favorite things to geek about, and hopefully I say something to make you think a little too. My favorite things include: Comics, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Science, Astronomy, Math, Music, theatre, movies, writing, baseball, college football (Go Blue!)
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