In Part 4 (read Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3) of our Constantine set visit, we talk with actor Djimon Hounsou about playing Papa Midnite in the Francis Lawrence “Hellblazer” comic book adaptation.
What are your character’s powers?
My powers are very spiritual actually. Midnite is suave. He’s a witch doctor, obviously is a great friend to John Constantine. At one point, he started doing what John Constantine is doing now. They used to do it together before he took a different direction.
What direction did John take?
The direction he took was more of a business direction where he’s not taking sides.
Will you ask to keep the costume?
You should see the other costume as well. I have another one. It’s beautiful. It’s very flamboyant as well, even more than this one with a little bit of fur. It’s not something that I’m going to be wearing around.
How are the shoes?
The shoes are different than the other one as well. They’re very nice nice as well. I’m suave.
Is your character in the comics?
Yes, he is, I think. But you know what? I’m going to have to double check on that because I didn’t read the comic book, and obviously the story, the film is quite different from the comic book.
How is it different?
How a comic book is portrayed is completely different from film in ways that would almost be pointless to research a comic book or read all about the characters.
Constantine uses his friends in the comics. They tend to die off. Is it the same in the movie?
Pretty much. You do have the feel, the essence of the comic book most definitely. You do have a sense of desperation on the part of John Constantine obviously.
What’s the significance of your necklace, a silver scorpion?
Don’t f**k with me, you know.
What is Midnite’s role in the film?
Midnite at this point has much more of a business approach to Constantine, his longtime friend and longtime partner. He completely distanced himself from that world and became completely neutral in society where everything is really about business for him and he took no sides in the fight against evil. He’s just there to accommodate the good and the bad.
Is he half demon?
No, Midnite is not half demon. Definitely not. He definitely is human. He’s a witch doctor.
How was working with Keanu?
It’s been quite an exciting experience because he’s done so much and working with him on this picture firsthand, it’s quite a nice surprise because I realize how actually he’s a very talented man. He’s so anal about the work. The guy has received some criticism, both good and bad, but working with him, you learn the generosity that he has for the work and with the people that are a part of this picture. He definitely is a very simple man and somewhat maybe misunderstood. He’s reclusive in a way and very private.
What is the biggest surprise about him?
It’s to see the dedication to the work, to the craft. He works hard at the work and is very supportive of other actors that come to partake in his films. The generosity of the guy at work, I was floored by that.
Where has Midnite picked up the relics through the years?
Obviously he used to do a lot of running around with Constantine and he got a lot of them from Constantine as well. It’s from past adventures as well as present adventures. A lot of people bring things to me. They know that I’m in that sort of business.
Do you get any action scenes?
The one action is pretty much when Constantine breaks into my office at gunpoint, so I had to deal with that, that moment with him. That’s the only time and physical moments that we have together. But since he is a longtime friend and all, there is a bit of care that goes into the fighting.
Are you working with other actors in the movie as well?
Keanu is pretty much the one that I’m mostly interacting with. Shia LaBeouf, I interact with him in one of the scenes as well, but mostly John Constantine.
How long has the film been shooting and have you been here the whole time?
No, I’ve only been shooting for a couple of weeks. Today is probably my last day.
Do you have any interest in the occult in real life?
Personally I don’t think it’s ridiculous. Although this is a fictional story that we’re telling here, quite a bit of this sort of strange things that we have going on in this film happens in real life as well. People just want to find a bit of peace in this crazy world. But I also come from a country that is the source of voodoo. I come from the capitol of Benin, which is where voodoo all started. So I’m sort of drawing some ideas from that. Just some of the things they do in healing somebody. I can’t tell you exactly what I’m doing and all, but I’m drawing a bit of knowledge from that.
Is the gray in your beard painted in?
No. It’s my gray.
How much background did the director give you on your character?
Obviously when you read a story, you can tell that they have a bit of history, that they had been through this before. They were at one point teammates. You can definitely feel that there was a relationship before.
Must be nice to make a movie where you’re not in the desert.
Oh, it is sweet. It is so, so refreshing not to be in the desert, some Sahara desert or whatever. It is really refreshing to be shooting in town as well.
Warner Bros. will release Constantine on September 17.
Source: Brian Carroll