Inside Scoop: CONSTANTINE’s Matt Ryan Interview [Part 2]

What was it like developing a different accent for John, than the one you normally have?

Matt Ryan: Yeah. I mean to be honest with you, because John’s originally from Liverpool and then, you know, he’d been in London a lot and it’s a comic book so it’s – it was kind of up for grabs, you know? And so I – I talked to a lot of the guys about it. But I thought that the main thing that was important was for me to kind of try and get the essence of John rather than kind of playing an accent. But then I didn’t want to do something that was exactly the same as my accent. I just wanted to kind of make a kind of sort of nod to him really. So I – I kind of worked with – first I think I was in a play in London. I worked on doing this with a London accent for a while. There was something that just wasn’t sitting right with it, you know? Then I started playing around with a kind of – a Northern accent, a British Northern accent which is a lot stronger than the one that I – I’m actually doing now.

It kind of felt right because it – it felt like working class and kind of gritty and it was in the – in the – in the right ballpark. But at the same time, I didn’t want to just spend so much time, you know, playing an accent and making him all about an accent. I – so what I decided to do was just concentrate on the – on the essence of the character and then – and then kind of giving the kind of subtle nod. I changed certain vowel sounds and – and just (decided) to give a node to him then. So it’s kind of a – a Northern accent based on some – some of the Liver – Liverpudlian sounds but obviously it’s not a strong Liverpudlian accent. I don’t think that that would kind of be very accessible to – for a network show on television. I’d like to think that that’s – there’s a subtle nod in there to where – to where John’s – John comes from. I’m from Wales but my accent isn’t exactly very strong Welsh anymore because I’ve traveled so much. So I left Wales when I was 19. John left Liverpool when he was younger as well. I kind of took that balance of if he – if he’d left somewhere when he was younger, then he’s traveled and kind of – yeah, so I just added a subtle nod of Northern.

What are some of the characters or story lines from the series that scare you the most?

Matt Ryan: My favorite is the Dangerous Habit one. That was one of the first I read when I first got the part. And there was a – they only had two in a week – 2-1/2 weeks to prep for – for the pilot and obviously I hadn’t read 300 or so comics. I can remember thinking at the time wait, we can’t do this yet. I have to read every single comic before – before we do it. I didn’t feel that I was going to get – do it justice without reading all the comics. But the Dangerous Habit kind of – run was my favorite. And also probably the most scariest as well, because, the fact that it’s lung cancer and it’s – it’s very – it’s a very human story and that kind of – that kind of scared me quite a lot and was also one of the reasons why it was my favorite.

Constantine - Season 1

Can talk a little bit about your character’s relationships with Zed and Manny and Chas?

Matt Ryan: Yeah, sure. Well with Chas, Chas is John’s – John’s oldest friend and closest friend and the only one who’s been around for – and who hadn’t died although Chas does die but has an extraordinary gift so he keeps on coming back. But what’s great about – about Chas is that he – he kind of provides a logic to John, whereas John is kind of someone – he’s an addict. He’s a demon addict if you – if you like. And he kind of provides a grounding to John. And also he’s – he’s helpful in a – in a fist fight as well. He’s kind of the brawns to John’s brain. And John – John’s scrappy, you know? He’s not afraid to get – get into a – into a fight. But at the same time he’s, he – Chas could probably help him out in a lot of situations there.

With Manny, what’s really interesting is they’re almost like two gunslingers kind of standing opposite each other that need each other but they could shoot each other at any time. Or it’s as if they kind of – with this relationship there’s a kind of conflict there. They both kind of don’t really want to be in each other’s company particularly. But they know that they have to and that they’re both useful to one another. So I think there’s a really interesting kind of conflict there.

What we see with Manny developing is that – that John and Manny – how Manny helps John and kind of how that relationship sort of develops is there’s a very interesting dynamic actually – I don’t know how much I’m allowed to say about it – between them. […]

Zed is – she’s a feisty one, let me tell you. She’s great because she’s someone who gets in John’s face, doesn’t take any of his shit. She’s not afraid to smack someone in the face when it comes down to it. And she also has this unique ability which John – it’s very useful for John. So they need each other as much as the other. But at the same time, you know, there’s a chemistry between them which could develop into something more. She’s mysterious. She has a mysterious background. What’s interesting about these two characters is they work together on some level but then they’re both reluctant to reveal each other’s past to each other. So, there’s a constantly kind of looking out of the corner of each eye with each other which is really interesting. Then there’s the kind of sexual chemistry between them as well which leads to a really kind of fun play in between the two of them. That relationship throughout the series, will kind of develop in a very interesting way, I must say.

Did you have any hesitations taking the role knowing that it’s based on the DC Comic and there are a lot of fans that are dedicated to the comics?

Matt Ryan: Oh, interesting. Well first of all, like when I was auditioning I’d actually just been offered a play in London. I think there was a time where the play was going to go away. They needed to know before I had the time to kind of fly out and test. There was a moment of me going should I just do the play, you know? It’s a pilot, I don’t know if I’m going to get it. It’s a pilot, you don’t know if it’s going to get picked up. I was offered a lead role in a – in the National Theater in – in London. I was kind of going I don’t know if this is maybe something I want to do. But after a kind of – the more research I did on the character I was just like it’s such a great opportunity to play a character like this that I couldn’t kind of pass up on it. I didn’t really have any reservations in terms of how iconic the character is. I think that’s something that can make you nervous but at the same time it’s a challenge. And I like that challenge. You throw yourself into it and you give your interpretation of it and try and stay true to the DNA of the character and hope that the – that the fans of the comics, kind of like it. But – so there is always a little bit of pressure. You just throw yourself into it to be honest.

Constantine - Season 1

What character from the comics would you like to see on a show?

Matt Ryan: Oh yes, yes. Well we – we get to see a bunch of the Newcastle crew. We meet Gary Lester, we meet (Annmarie Flynn). But I would most like to see the – Satan, to be honest, the first of the fallen. But I think that wouldtake a while for us to try to get there. He’s probably the – the biggest one, right? So to have that showdown it goes back to that Dangerous Habits one again. […] It’s just when I read that I was like this is awesome, you know? So probably – probably Satan.

Are you looking forward to possibly there being more DC Comics characters outside of the Constantine world possibly coming in?

Matt Ryan: Yeah, man. Yeah. It’s something that I’m really excited about. Like the (Millhouse) where – where in the pilot, there are so many […] Pandora’s Box and as you said, (Dr. Face Helmet). And we – we get to see Jim Corrigan who becomes The Spectre. It’s just such an amazing world, the occult DC Universe. I know that especially if we get the back line that David was saying that we’re going to be introducing kind of a lot more from that – from that universe as well. It’s just an exciting thing man. It doesn’t become then just the demon of the week. Do you know what I mean? It – what’s great I think about this is that, this is kind of – I wouldn’t say it’s procedural but we do have an individual story each week. We’re introducing Papa Midnite from the characters, Jim Corrigan, (Annmarie), Gary Lester. I think if we go to the back line we might be introducing (Judas) and there are all of these great characters which have different relationships with John. And then in effect, bring out the different sides of John. That’s really interesting then to kind of study these relationships rather than having just something that’s completely separate from John and that relationship with the characters built within the structure of the episodes, you know, so you always have something to kind of – to root the episode in, which is always great. It’s really exciting.

What do you feel sets Constantine apart from other shows of its kind?

Matt Ryan: To be honest with you, I think that it’s down to the central character of John. That’s what made the comics – the comic books unique, you know? The kind of anti-hero, working class anti-hero, wisecracking street magician. He’s someone who sacrifices his friends to get what he needs. But you still love him as well because he has this – this compelling urge to – to save humanity even though he does it with a cigarette and a whiskey all the time, you know? So it’s him. It’s him. Then in effect the relationships that he has with the other characters around him. That’s kind of what’s unique to him. He really is an anti-hero. He’s not a superhero in tights, you know? He’s a working class man that is for the people. I think that really kind of sets him apart from those things.