Constantine Showrunner Talks Casting, Smoking And Papa Midnite


It’s been a busy weekend for comic book fans, thanks to the annual San Diego Comic-Con. Traditionally an opportunity for exclusive sneak-peeks, previews and premieres, Warner Bros. unveiled its new DC television properties – due for broadcast in October – including the series premiere of Constantine.

Based on the dark and gruesome Hellblazer comic book series, the show features deadpan and cynical occult detective John Constantine (Matt Ryan), battling forces of darkness that most people can’t see. In the pilot, Constantine comes to the rescue of a young woman named Liv (played by Lucy Griffiths), who has psychic abilities and finds herself the target of evil entities. While the overall reaction to the pilot seems to have been ‘It’s good, but with room for improvement,’ the creative team behind the project already began to making adjustments – having swiftly dropped that initial female character, to bring in an alternative feminine foil – Zed (to be played by Angelica Celaya) for the foreseeable future.

At Comic-Con, the series creator and showrunner Daniel Cerone (Dexter) was on hand – along with executive producer David S, Goyer – to discuss creative choices and planned developments with Screen Rant:

“Liv was a character that didn’t come from the comic books. She was an invention – she was meant to be our sort of gateway character and the audience’s perspective into this world. But she was very… reactive. She did a lot of listening to John and staring wide-eyed. And we thought we should give him someone who can go toe-to-toe with him – who has a little more grit. And then we were sitting around the writers’ room saying, ‘Why don’t we introduce Zed? Let’s go back to the source material.’ I mean, Zed is the first woman we see Constantine hook up with. She’s got her own supernatural abilities, in terms of being a psychic. She’s got a great backstory which we are going to use, and tease out as a mystery over the course of the first season. So she just felt like a much more dynamic and active charater.”

While many commentators took this casting change to be a sign of early trouble for the show at the time, it can only be a positive thing in the final analysis. The original choice of wide-eyed Liv is understandable – being a narrative tool to provide access to the story, as well as being innocence to balance the darkness of both Constantine’s character, and the general atmosphere. However, realizing that this was, in practice, a weak link, Cerone and his team have moved quickly to make the necessary adjustments.

Cerone also addressed the subject of network constraints, and their effect on the show – specifically NBC’s anti-smoking policy, which was initially perceived by many to be a major obstacle to a series whose lead character is famous for his nicotine addiction. NBC – home of the equally gruesome Hannibal – is apparently very supportive and encouraging of the horror-based nature of this new show and, as it turns out, its anti-smoking policy is very specific. It dictates that inhalation cannot be shown onscreen, as executive producer David S. Goyer explained:

“We can show him putting out and lighting up. Our hope – our fervent hope – is that fans will see that and appreciate the attempt. Because, look, we can’t change broadcasting standards, but what we can do is try and get away with as much as we can… I mean, he’ll talk about it – he is a smoker. We’re not saying he’s not a smoker. It’s not inconceivable that we could do, in another season, a version of that ‘Dangerous Habits’ storyline.”

Constantine’s dependence on chain-smoking is not the only recurring element from the comic books that will be part of the show. Beloved character Papa Midnite is also scheduled to appear, honouring the complex and troubled relationship he has with the character of Constantine:

Cerone: “Yep, he will. We’ve already got him pencilled in to two early episodes.”
Goyer: “He’ll be a recurring character.”
Cerone: “We’re literally casting this week.”

Who will land that iconic recurring role? We’ll have to wait – poised on the edge of our seats – to find out. Whoever it is revealed to be, the future certainly looks bright for the dark and disturbing world of Constantine. The show makes its US network premiere on NBC, on October 24, but you can check out the trailer – shown at Comic-Con – below:

Source: Screen Rant