Reeves and Lawrence on Constantine

On Friday, Warner Bros. Pictures will unleash the anticipated graphic novel adaptation Constantine, directed by Francis Lawrence and starring Keanu Reeves as John Constantine. Lawrence is best known for his award-winning direction on videos and his experience in that field really shows with the excellent visuals in the movie. talked to both Reeves and Lawrence about the film.

One of the biggest concerns “Hellblazer” fans have is that changes were indeed made from the graphic novels. “This project was around six or seven years before I came on board and he was already an American before I came on board,” said Lawrence. “To me what was important, from a person who didn’t know the comic book going in until I had read the screenplay and was interested in the project, what was interesting to me was the heart of who this guy is. It wasn’t the color of his hair; it wasn’t his accent; it wasn’t that it wasn’t set in London or England cause Constantine’s stories in the comic are set all over the world. To me, it was his attitude; who he is. Being a con man and a magician; the way he puts himself in peril, his friend in peril. His attitude toward the way the world works; the way we don’t know, but the way he knows. The way he deals with the rules of the universe and the way that affects him and his attitude toward that. His cynicism and sarcasm. That’s what makes Constantine Constantine to me. I understand because devoted fans have the love for this character and there is a lot of love of the olive trench coat and the blond hair, but to me that stuff is superficial and the heart of what makes him who he is. If he wasn’t who he is underneath that, those fans would think he’s sh*t and he’d be a lot less interesting if he was just blond and had an English accent. That’s what I really tried to keep strong in this film.”

Reeves also joined the project after the changes were made. “I wasn’t familiar with the character before I read the script, and when the script came to me, that aspect of the character – being based in London and being English – had changed already. So I wasn’t aware of that. When I read the script and then familiarized myself with the work, I saw that what was important was really the essence of Constantine, and we worked really hard to keep that aspect of it, because it’s really what it’s all about. That kind of hard-edged, hard-boiled, world-weary cynical, fatalistic, nihilistic, self-interested – with a heart. And I think we did. I mean I hope so. I hope that fans of the comic don’t feel that we sabotaged something that is so well loved.”

Keanu says he really enjoyed the character and talked about embodying Constantine. “When seeking a costume, I went to the costumer and she had a rack of clothes and choices and shoes and stuff, and I was just trying things on. There was a concept for the piece. What clothes fit? It was like trying on the hat. I remember putting on the jacket and the shoes and I felt a certain way: Yeah, this is the Constantine. So going to rehearsal, you wear your wardrobe and eventually I find that not only do I have a feel but it seems that… they seem kind of connected natural. I lowered my register a little bit, working on the way he spoke, I was guided by Francis Lawrence.”

In the film, Lawrence based the look of hell on Los Angeles, which is related to the movie’s setting. “In the script originally, it was written as this black void with an oily ground and a path of bones sort of stuff. And I just thought, no matter what kind of abstract void I come up with, it’s always going to be an abstract void. So I wanted to give it, in a weird way, some sort of logic and ground it so I came up with the idea that wherever you exist in any given moment, there is sort of the heaven version of where you are and the hell version of where you are. If you cross over in this room, you’d be in the hell version of this room so that instantly gave us the geography. And beyond that coming up for the look of what happens there, we started looking at the nuclear test films from the 40s, out in the desert when things are getting blasted. And came up with the idea that hell is this eternal nuclear blast. Everything is directional and everything is super-directional and super-violent and the atmosphere is really hot and horrible and everything is ripped apart, except it never completely goes away because it’s eternal.”

For a previous interview with Keanu Reeves discussing a possible sequel, click here.

Source: Andrew Weil