NBC is all set to launch a one-two supernatural punch of programming this Friday night with the addition of Constantine 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 interview with the Welsh actor in the Warner Bros. Television press room at New York Comic Con. During our Q&A, Ryan shared with us his thoughts on the dark tone of the show, the research he has done for the role and his favorite Hellblazer story lines.
QUESTION: So Matt obviously you’ve probably read a lot of the comics and there’s so many great runs, like, Ennis and Azzarello. Do you have a favorite one? A story line that you hope to see the show cover?
MATT RYAN: My favorite run at the moment, and I haven’t read them all yet, I will do at some point when you know, when I get some time (laughs), is “The Dangerous Habit.” That and the Ennis stuff, I just love all that stuff.
QUESTION: Is there anything from your character that you see in the comic books that you want to bring?
MATT: I don’t know. It’s interesting ’cause there’s so many different writers that write him and artists that draw him. That what’s great is there’s so many different things that you can pick out for different episodes, for different story lines. That we’re doing, you know. It’s just like this canvas of stuff that you can. You’re never lost for ideas. Do you know what I mean? You can just dip in and go, “Oh, I can use that!” But I think that keeping the core DNA of the character there consistently, and then using the rest of it then as you see fit, and you dip in. But trying to stay true to the kind of what he is, the essence of him, you know?
QUESTION: Is there any element of him that you really enjoy portraying?
MATT: When he’s like just a real nasty bugger, you know? And then he doesn’t smile. That’s just so cool. He’s just like, “Yeah,” and then he’s like (gives the finger and laughs). It’s so much fun, because you don’t get to do that in your life. You get slapped, you know? You get punched and knocked out.
QUESTION: Are you trying to do a Scouse accent at all?
MATT: What was important to me was kind of trying to get the essence of the character, rather than just playing a kind of Scouse accent and kind of, you know, going, “Okay, this is my John Constantine, and he’s a Scouser,” you know? I wanted to just try and get the DNA of him and kind of be true to him. I also wanted to kind of do something that was accessible to a broad audience, so it was kind of like a Northern. He’s from the North but I’m not going too Scouse with it. But I kind of just concentrated on really trying to get under his skin and do the essence of it, rather than just, you know, doing an accent.
QUESTION: Surprised on how dark the show can be, at the tone of the show?
MATT: Man, yeah it has. But the further we’re going on the darker it’s getting, which is great.There’s some good stuff, and some fun stuff.
QUESTION: This is a question I could never ask anybody before, until now. How do you actually see Constantine in your own head, now that you’ve been playing him for a while?
MATT: I don’t think about how I see him. It’s like I just play him. It’s weird. And then I dip into the comics, I try to dip into a comic every night before I go to bed, but there are some days you work, like, 15 hours a day. Then you start to try and read a comic and you give yourself nightmares (laughs). Before you go to bed, you’re like, “This is not good,” you know? So some nights I listen to nursery music or something.
QUESTION: Any chance we’ll get to see that punk rock band at some point?
MATT: Oh I don’t know. I actually tweeted a photo of me in the whole outfit. Pretty cool.
QUESTION: How taxing is it to be in Constantine’s head space? How do you just end the day?
MATT: Yeah, it’s quite taxing, But it’s fun. It’s great. What’s great about it is that John, in the comic, sometimes just goes, “All right, then, here we go again, let’s do it.” And you know, you do a 15-hour day, and you wake up, you know, 3:00 in the morning, you’re like, “Okay, then, let’s do it again, come on.” It’s like a good little thing where it keeps it going.
MATT: Thanks guys.
Here is the show’s official synopsis:
“Based on the wildly popular comic book series “Hellblazer” from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult John Constantine (Matt Ryan, “Criminal Minds”) specializes in giving hell… hell. Armed with a ferocious knowledge of the dark arts and his wickedly naughty wit, he fights the good fight — or at least he did. With his soul already damned to hell, he’s decided to leave his do-gooder life behind, but when demons target Liv (Lucy Griffiths, “True Blood”), the daughter of one of Constantine’s oldest friends, he’s reluctantly thrust back into the fray – and he’ll do whatever it takes to save her. Before long, it’s revealed that Liv’s “second sight” — an ability to see the worlds behind our world and predict supernatural occurrences — is a threat to a mysterious new evil that’s rising in the shadows. Now it’s not just Liv who needs protection; the angels are starting to get worried too. So, together, Constantine and Liv must use her power and his skills to travel the country, find the demons that threaten our world and send them back where they belong. After that, who knows… maybe there’s hope for him and his soul after all.”
Constantine debuts on Friday, October 24th at 10pm and also stars Angelica Celaya, Harold Perrineau and Charles Halford. The show is produced by David S. Goyer.