NBC is all set to launch a one-two supernatural punch of programming tonight with the addition of Constantine at 10 pm to its line-up following Grimm. The highly anticipated adaptation of DC Comics’ gritty Hellblazer stars Matt Ryan in the title role as the antihero occult detective. I was among the invited press to participate in a round table interviews with the cast and creatives forces behind the show in the Warner Bros.Television press room at New York Comic Con. During our Q&A with Angélica Celaya, who stars as Zed Martin, the no-nonsense partner to Ryan’s John Constantine, the charming actress talked about what she brings as Latina actor to the Latin character, the casting process, and working with the feature film worthy special effects on the show.
QUESTION: Some of us understand the TV show is sort of adapted from the comics, and the characters, taken from the comics. But for those people who haven’t read the comics, could you sort of tell us about the character you’re playing.
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: Zed comes from the Hellblazer world with Constantine, and she’s sensitive. She gets visions. She loves. She’s always within the arts, either spray painting or drawing or something. And that’s how she translates her visions. And she’s running away from situations in her life, and within the show we see her running, with walls. Not really trusting, scared. But through it, being scared, she becomes tough. You know, that’s what really happens to us. That’s what Zed is right now.
QUESTION: So how did you prepare for the role? Did you read through the Hellblazer comics?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: Yeah. They, they, they gave me a stack of books. (laughter) And they’re like, “Here you go!” And that’s where I got that she’s extremely sarcastic, but so funny. Refreshingly sarcastic. So I’m like loving her, and then it came to “Oh, I get to be her. Okay, cool.”
QUESTION: Have you read any other comic books before? Any comic books ever?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: No, never. I grew up in southern Arizona and all I wanted to be was like She-Ra. And you know my brothers be He-Man and we’re gonna protect the world. (laughs) Does that sound corny? I’m sorry.
QUESTION: No, that’s awesome. So what is your favorite aspect of Zed?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: Oh, my God, that she really, really wishes that her family could be a real family. And she really wishes love was love, and protection was protection. And that’s why she runs to Constantine in this bad-ass world, because in a way, that’s protection.
QUESTION: In terms of the filming is there anything that you have added to the character that wasn’t already scripted?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: They casted it that she happens to be Latina. So I bring, you know, the Latin there. I give John Constantine a little run for his money when I talk Spanish. (laughter). Bring that in, give it a little sass there, and the way I’m portraying Zed, because Zed in Hellblazer she keeps running away from her family. She does not want to be in the Christian crusade, or anything. She doesn’t want to give birth to the second coming of Christ. (laughs) So I based her, and what I did, with girls I grew up around seeing, which were girls who were running away from family. Who were running away from home, and really wished they had a solid ground to be, and embraced. And from consequences of that they become rough, and they become a little protective, and then the walls come down. Then they just overflow and they become like puppies.
QUESTION: How cool was it not to have to play the damsel in distress?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: Oh my God, I am blessed, I don’t have to play. I don’t know how to play the damsel in distress. I’m a big Mexican. I don’t know how to play a damsel in distress. My mother taught me: There’s trouble, fix it. (laughter). You cry? No honey, you dry your tears and you fix the problem. There’s no crying in baseball, you know. It’s you just go.
QUESTION: What is the responsibility of being a Latina woman in the genre of horror?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: I love it. I love the fact that she is Latina, and she so happens to be Latina, not that Zed is showing her butt and her breasts and then “Whoa.” No. There’s no types of stereotypes here. She just so happens to be Latina, as all Latinas are, they just so happen to be, they didn’t choose to be. It’s a big step forward. I am so blessed and honored to be given that. I couldn’t ask for more.
QUESTION: You, you talk about going toe to toe with Constantine, and Constantine’s not known to be physical, like action. Might Zed be a little physical? A little sassiness in her…
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: She can be physical. But toe to toe? Constantine is besides a master of the dark arts, he’s also the master of saying all that stuff, and the manipulation, doing ten rounds, running around you ten times and you won’t even notice. That’s what he does with the way he talks. Zed is like, “No. Cut it down. Snip, snip, snip. Okay, you said all that? You mean this.” So that’s the going toe to toe. And him trying to push Zed away and Zed saying, “Excuse me? You’re doing what? No. Huh-uh, no.” (laughs)
QUESTION: Could you talk a little bit about getting involved with the series because you came aboard after the original pilot had been shot. Was this a regular audition? Do you go into the room and there’s 45 other potential Zeds that all look exactly like you? What do you have to do to make them notice you and think that you’re perfect for this character?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: Well I didn’t go into a room with 45 different. There were about three. And then I found out that there was more. But it was an audition. It was you go and you cast. You go in, you do your work. I go in there and I presented who I thought Zed was. It’s not that I needed to make her stand out it’s just that I needed to be real to what I thought. And to me, I had to be real to my work and real to the character because it’s a living and breathing character. It’s not like cardboard, stereotypical stuff. So I go in there with my trying to be 100% real to whatever situation, and then all of a sudden they pull in Daniel Cerone. I did not know he was the executive producer. And they sat him down. I’m like, “Crap.” And then I walk out, I’m like, “Shit. Why did they do that?” It was like the first time I was auditioning. My first time usually come in to invite you back now. “We want you to meet the producers.” No, it first time (gasps) “Oh my God, this is horrible.” I remember calling my fiancé. “Oh my God, I totally did not do a good job.” Couple of days later they want me to see David. And then with David, did a chemistry read with Matt, and I was “Oh, the pressure is on!” And played around with the character so many times. I was always true to what I thought was true, and I realized I worked so well with Matt. Whatever he gives to a situation, so I can let myself just throw myself into the scene, and he catches me. And he does the same thing. And I catch him and it’s so rewarding when you get to work with people like that. I’m guessing that’s what got it.
QUESTION: Can you talk about special effects and stunts. What has working on a supernatural TV show that surprised you so far?
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: It’s the stunt work. It is awesome. I did not know how elaborate special effects are. I did not know how precise it has to be. And then all of the sudden I find myself, well “What’s that ball with a mirror?”And “Why are we doing green screen?” And then we’re doing really awesome special effects where I see the same guys doing in some films, and this is exactly what we’re gonna do. And they show me what they did on such movie. I was like, “Oh, damn, that’s good!” (laughs) And then you get into it a lot more. In the beginning a little odd, especially because Zed has visions. So it’s like, “You’re in a field, smelling whatever,” “Okay, let’s do it!” It’s a little rough, but in the end it comes together, and you just get into like when you’re a kid. “And remember, you can’t do it, ’cause the dragon’s gonna hear you, and so you have to …” And as a kid, you would do it, as 100% real, ’cause it was true. So it’s getting back to that.
ANGÉLICA CELAYA: Thank you so much you guys.
You can read our interview with Matt Ryan HERE.
You can read our interview with executive producer David S. Goyer HERE.
Constantine debuts tonight on NBC at 10 pm.