EXCLUSIVE: Constantine creator promises a snarky John and a 'dark and twisted' world

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Oct 24, 2014

Would you like to take a tour through the "dark and twisted world" of Heaven and Hell? Well, get ready to meet John Constantine, our snarky and damned tour guide into NBC's new series Constantine, said co-creator and executive producer Daniel Cerone in an exclusive interview with Blastr.

“If you enjoy explorations into dark and light, demons and angels, Heaven and Hell, as revealed through a character who doesn't choose sides, who will thumb his nose at anyone, and won't bow down to anyone and always has a one-liner for every situation ... that's the fun of John Constantine. I think he's just a fun ambassador into a very dark and twisted world,” said Cerone.

The series follows the adventures of John Constantine (Matt Ryan), who is based on the lead character in the popular DC Comic series Hellblazer. John is a seasoned demon hunter and master of the occult who specializes in giving Hell ... well, hell. Already damned, John tries to protect the daughter of one of his oldest friends, armed only with a terrifying knowledge of the dark arts and a wickedly naughty wit. The series, which was developed by Cerone (Dexter) and David S. Goyer (Man of Steel, The Dark Knight Rises), also stars Angelica Celaya as Zed, Charles Halford as Chas and Lost's Harold Perrineau as an angel named Manny.

“John Constantine, he's just such an unusual character. I mean, there's truly nobody out there like him. He's irreverent, he's flippant, he's cursed. He leaves this wake of destruction behind him anywhere he goes,” said Cerone. “Every friend that he has or anyone who comes to trust him ends up dying, ends up paying the price for it. He's a compelling character because he's alone and he's tormented and he's driven to help people all the while knowing that yes, his own soul is damned for Hell and that anyone who comes to care for him is likely going to pay the price.”

While the pilot features a character named Liv (Lucy Griffiths) who gives us an entry into the world, by episode three you'll meet Zed, played by Angélica Celaya, he said. Celaya will be a regular in Constantine.

“She is from the comic book, and she's literally the first woman that we see John Constantine become involved with. She has psychic powers. Basically, she's someone who can go toe to toe with him. She has some fire and some spirit. She can see through things and see through people. John works because he's a bulls--t artist, and she's like a bulls--t detector, so there's great potential for them,” said Cerone.

"The beauty of John Constantine's world is there are a lot of recurring characters, both positive and negative. The biggest characters on our show, in addition to John Constantine and Zed, are John's best friend in the comic book. His names is Chas. He's a combination of driver and muscle and just his longtime childhood friend. So he's part of the team and he provides a nice human perspective for John. Our other primary character who is turning into a favorite is an angel character whose name is Manny. He's played by Harold Perrineau," he said.

The executive producer and writer, who's worked on Charmed, Dexter and The Mentalist, loves the fact that these character and the world allow him to bring his nightmares to life. “I've just always been a closet horror fan. I like to be scared. It goes back to really primal memories as a child. It's hard to do that on network television. It's hard to create a scary show on network television. We referenced X-Files a lot when we were out pitching the show,” he said.

“A lot of our visual effects, yes, they're going toward creating scares and supernatural terrors, but the tone of the show is to kind of keep them as grounded as possible. We're not a show that's going to be doing a lot of rubber masks. The things that we see or don't see are going to be more coming out of shadows. That's the goal. In television you kind of have to do that. In feature films, you have months, sometimes years to design visual effects and bring creatures to life. We just have much more limited capabilities, but what's nice about this material is that it's very true to the comics. The comics weren't filled with crazy creatures. They were filled with characters. At the end of the day, we want to tell stories about characters,” said Cerone.

“I think the biggest challenge is our own ambition. We want to put as much onscreen as possible, and we want to make ... we want to introduce a world that people haven't seen. Our desire is sometimes greater than production realities, so it forces you to become creative and it forces you to really pick and choose your battles. So, from a pure logistical standpoint, I would say that that's the biggest challenge. But it's made infinitely easier by the fact that what could have been the biggest challenge has just turned into a smooth ride, and that is our lead. Our actor Matt Ryan, I have to say, he is John Constantine. If you look into the comics at all and you get a sense of who that character is, he's this very snarky, self-effacing, devil-may-care, blond, chain-smoking Brit. Matt, he so embodies the character. He lives it and he breathes it, and he's such a joy to watch. He's a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. When we cast him, he was onstage doing Henry V with Jude Law. He just brings the world to life. John Constantine, look, he's saying a lot of spells in Latin, in Portuguese, in Mayan. We put a lot of strange words in his mouth, and Matt just rises to the challenge. It's fun to watch him,” he said.

Constantine airs on Fridays on NBC at 10 p.m. ET after Grimm.

Here's a look at Constantine:

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