Discovering Constantine At SDCC

As a new show with ties to previous incarnations (both a comic book and a movie), the San Diego Comic-Con press room for Constantine was abuzz with questions about the new NBC show and its titular character, especially in relation to this incarnation’s predecessors. Here’s the scoop:

Matt Ryan who plays John Constantine was unfamiliar with the Hellblazer comics from which his character was created but since getting the role he has done his homework. One thing that has been slightly altered in this rendition is the character’s accent. Constantine is from Liverpool, but that accent was thought to be more challenging for people to understand, so they decided to go with a more northern accent which is similar but not exactly the same as Ryan’s natural Welsh accent. Ryan has fallen in love with the character and the comics and wants to be as true as possible to that. And while there’s been some criticism that they are not showing Constantine chain-smoking (a trait of the comic character), Ryan notes that the character does smoke they just can’t show certain things due to network restrictions, but he’s always thinking of different ways they can portray this habit.

Although John Constantine is a human, he is supported by a cast of characters who all seem to have otherworldly abilities. His best friend Chas has an uncanny knack for survival which is evident in the pilot when we see him supposedly die after being impaled, but then show up like nothing happened a few scenes later. Charles Halford, who plays Chas, was mum on the specifics of his ability and only indicated he has a talent in surviving. Chas is first seen as a driver for Constantine (like in the comics and movie), but he also fills the role of best friend and motivator. As Halford says, “John is a bastard. He’s a lazy bastard. He doesn’t want to fight demons, he has to. He’s not really stoked on it and Chas knows he’s the man for the job and keeps him up to task.”

Angelica Celaya plays Zed, a character that was not introduced in the pilot, but is present in the original comic and will become a main character on the show. Celaya was unfamiliar with comics but was giddy as she revealed that DC offered her an endless supply (lucky!) after signing on to this role. While contemplating the role, she kept seeing the name Zed in various places. As she puts it, “it was like visions coming together, which is so funny because Zed has visions.” Apparently it’s Constantine that helps her come to terms with her abilities and how special she is. Celaya also indicates Zed might have some tension with the demon hunter; it’s one of those situations where the two people don’t want to admit just how well they work together.

Harold Perrineau plays Manny, an angel who in the pilot seems to be offering help to Constantine despite receiving resistance (this tends to be a running pattern). Perrineau indicates that while Manny is offering to help, there is also something he wants from Constantine. Manny is from another world and has powers, but his powers are restricted and he needs Constantine’s help to do something. Trying to get that help might be difficult, but as Perrineau puts it, “Manny’s got an idea.”

On a fun side note: Harold Perrineau added he’d love to cosplay as Silver Surfer, saying he used to love that character as a kid in part because Perrineau himself was a dancer and Silver Surfer has the body of a dancer. Plus, there is a surf board with powers.

Tune into for the Constantine series premiere October 24th on NBC.