Constantine not allowed to smoke in the NBC series

News Louisa Mellor 30 Jun 2014 - 07:14

Director Neil Marshall has confirmed that John Constantine is not allowed to smoke on network TV...

They got the mac, the crumpled suit, the blonde hair and the (sort of) Scouse accent, but NBC has forbidden one aspect of John Constantine's Hellblazer character from being translated to the small screen: the exorcist will not be smoking in the forthcoming series.

Producer David S. Goyer was asked about Constantine's many-a-day habit when the series was first announced and said the chain-smoking was under negotiation with NBC. Those negotiations must have been lost by the creative team, because pilot director Neil Marshall (The DescentGame Of Thrones) has confirmed that the newest iteration of John Constantine will not be a smoker.

Marshall described the smoking ban as "very frustrating" in an interview with Collider, explaining, "It's the one thing, a compromise I guess, On network [TV] t's the one thing. You can't smoke on network."

The Constantine team is however, "working around that", according to Marshall. "We're trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We'll see".

Read more about Constantine on Den Of Geek, here.


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And it was looking so promising as well, shame.

So what will he be addicted to then?.... Gum chewing? Lollipop licking? Latte sipping? Yo-yo playing? Sexting?


There's a scene near the end of the pilot episode in which Constantine is stubbing out a very smoky cigarette while having a drink in a bar. We don't actually see him smoking it though, so that may be the compromise.

That's the pilot as it was leaked on the internet a few days ago. A few seconds could still be edited out I guess. Although it looks very difficult to remove the smoke cloud.

Not really surprising.

Maybe they'll rewrite the character to be a chronic masturbater?

Good - it's a filthy habit.

Ooooh no. You should know by now that sex, swearing and now smoking are a big no-no on network telly. Violence is fine though. So I assume that he'll be punching owls or something.

Sooooooo ya gonna write off the series due to a lack of nicotine addiction?

The game FTL? ................ seriously it's like fecking Crack!

Lol imagine GOT on NBC, no cutting, no stabbing, no sex, no nude shots and no swearing.. smoking is Constantine..after a while you'll run out of ways to stub out smoked cigarettes or imply he has just smoked one. Why sanction a series when you're just going to cut it off at it's knees?

"We're trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We'll see".

In other words: He wears the patch and there are references to how filthy a habit it was and his quitting, often in the form of jokes about his temperment. This way we can still keep the cancer thing in reserve but those poor little impressionable kiddies won't ever see him partake in such a nasty, nasty habit.

I hope I'm wrong, but that's how that statement reads to me. Here's hoping that I'm just jaded and cynical given the nature of "pre golden age" TV.

Absolutely beyond ridiculous. Does it really matter one bit if the show is going out after the 9pm watershed? Stuff like this really winds me up. Gee thanks for thinking about our health NBC, but us adults have enough information to go on regarding our own life decisions thanks very much. Either go boil your own head or give us the Constantine we know and love. Cretins.

You're right, they are all taboo on network television these days. They're going to have to bit the bullet and make him a prolific nose picker instead. Literally, almost every scene he has a finger (or two) stuffed up a nostril. Properly digging away in there. I don't think it's out of bounds yet, so should be fine.

I was literally about to type what you've just said. I don't agree with NBC not allowing him to smoke, bit doing the whole nicotine patch thing (so they can do the cancer arc at some point, as you said), seems to be the best option.

Sherlock was smoking a fag in the last episode, right? Something else that British television gets right!

Sounds good disgusting habit.

I trust Neil Marshal to do a great job without it.

It's the fact the smoke plays such an integral part in creating a certain look and mystic mood around the character. I don't think anyone actually cares about him smoking as such (apart from the whole 'Dangerous Habits' cancer storyline probably not ever being part of it) He could just be holding the damned thing in every shot, have the initial shot of a scene with him in putting one out. The character will definitely miss something if he isn't surrounded by smoke.

The network has never said Constantine can't be a smoker. We're just not allowed to see him smoke. Like I said in my earlier comment (unless they re-edit the pilot) we get to see him sitting in a cloud of smoke stubbing out a cigarette - in a close-up shot incidentally.

Meanwhile HBO has a new show where practically half the characters openly smoke cigarettes all the time as part of their religious beliefs. But that's cable for you.

(This one got ranty, sorry)

I disagree. The best option is to either have him smoke or don't. If they go the traditional grumpy ex-smoker route then it will be awful as they always overdo the jokes which takes any seriousness away from the character because you can't help but see them as a figure of ridicule.

On top of that, the cancer storyline would only serve as an extended PSA in the patch scenario. Instead of being a consequence of the characters actions that serves to further a story and deepen the character it would become one big "I has teh cancer 'cos I smoked!" narrative with all else falling under that narrative.

Just to clarify, I'm an ex-smoker myself so I don't disagree with the points I'm mocking here, I just don't like how they are always overblown in TV shows. Far from the same thing, I know, but a great example was when Chandler occasionally smoked in Friends. Instead of it just being a joke that he was sneaking off to do something bad that disgusted him, every single time someone saw or suspected him of the act they would start rhyming off all the bad things about it. "Oh, it smells really bad, and it's bad for you, and it stains your teeth and blah, blah, blah..." Again, all true points, but they stopped the flow of the joke and stilted the story by having characters turn into anti-smoking ads.

Apart from anything else, having the character get cancer after quitting sends a bad message too. Instead of having a character having to accept the actions off his actions and show how the only hope is through supernatural means, you now have a character who did something for the good of his health only to get a fatal disease anyway. Instead of showing the bad outcome of a bad decision they qould be showing that good decisions still lead to the same place. They are trying to say that they don't want the character to smoke because that gives kids they impression that smoking is cool, but having the character on the patch and still getting cancer would be sending the message that this cool guy smoked and if you do the same you might as well not quit 'cos you'll get cancer anyway. This is, to my mind, a much worse message than showing a character smoking but also showing him dealing with realistic consequences such as shortness of breath during his runny about bits and cancer.

Of course, my rant is entirely predicated on the show taking that old, cliched route. Hopefully it won't, but what is the web for if not bitching about worst cases that might not even happen?

WORSTEST SHOW EVAR!!!!!!11!1!!!!11!

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
Talk about stifling creativity.

half the cast of Eastenders are chaineys too. it might be unsavoury for some but reflects society more realistically.


Come on guys, we should be thanking the Nanny Broadcasting Company for keeping our fragile minds safe. You never see smokers outside of TV, it just doesn't happen, so this is bound to make a huge difference.

Oops too late, saw 2 seconds of Ab Fab, better stuff 20 ciggs in my mouth.

so, is it really THAT important that the character be a smoker just because he was a smoker in the comics? Is it really going to detract That much? Or are the people involved just a little upset because they are being told what to do.
Smoking is disgusting and it IS something that people watching might see and want to emulate so what is the real harm in leaving it out.

To the people celebrating this. Why exactly do you believe it's a good thing? I'm genuinely interested. Do you think it'll change society, improve the character? What?

Even if you think it's a filthy habit, why can't a character do it? Are we seriously so high up on our PC horses these days that we can't allow a fictional character to have a flaw or vice?

Should Ab Fab's Eddie and Patsy ditch the cigs and the drink so that they can lead a healthy lifestyle and become far more acceptable citizens? Should the Sons of Anarchy put their lighters away so that their otherwise upstanding lives of violence, crime and murder may last longer?

Constantine is a gambling man, not a stranger to vices such as drinking and smoking, despite the impact they may have on his lifespan...a life he puts on the line daily. His attitude toward his own health and life is actually an integral part of the character. So I have to disagree with you on it not detracting much. It detracts from the tone of the character. Dark, risk taking...

Not to mention, Constantine had cancer. So if the network weren't so busy wrapping us in cotton wool, they might realise that his story actually shows people exactly why they shouldn't smoke!

On another note, drinking is more dangerous and that's also very addictive... in fact alcoholism kills you far quicker than excessive smoking does. Let's see if they rid TV of characters drinking every episode.

Oh, but then they won't make lots of money from product placed beverages will they? Silly me.

Dear NBC,
Constantine's basic concept is playing with vices that will kill him. Even Keanu got to smoke.
Seriously, you've no problem with him sacrificing little girls to Satan, but smoking is out?
You short-sighted wankers, as John might say.

Have him slap on a nicotine patch and mention that he is trying to quit? O_o

Makes me very glad that the American remake of Ab Fab didn't happen. .

Constantine is supposed to be a filthy character, so....

*Clutches pearls and gasps*
How dare you? Constantine is as pure as a Disney princess.
For the love of God, won't somebody please think of the children?!

Maybe they can make John a fake tan/sun-bed addict. Give him skin cancer instead....

Just saw the pilot you see him putting out a cigerette binge drinking in a bar so it's more than implied he's a smoker, that said the pilot had problems

Constantine already is a bit of a wanker hehe

so it is fine for the protagonist of a show to cook meth or murder people but don't you dare show them smoking.. no matter how integral to the concept it is? seems legit

Give him a f**king lollypop - Telly Avalas' Kojak style - and we're sorted. I assure you that it WILL work.

Just show a packet of fags in front of him every time he sits down, and start scenes with him throwing finished butts on the ground. That way you don't actually see him smoking but can guess. Shoulda bin a lawyer me.

You don't get it (I think) Breaking Bad is Cable. Constantine is Network. You can do anything you like on cable shows. You can show your characters doing drugs, cutting peole up, raping people. You name it. Viewers pay for Cable so if you make a Cable show you have complete creative freedom. With Network no one pays in advance so they're completely reliant on viewer figures so in order to keep as many peole happy and not get scolded by the concerned parents of Anerica league (they exist) they have to be extremely conservative and only allow tv show makers a minimum of creative freedom. Usually when a show is announced to be network rather than cable you can expect it to suck and that's only down to that. Network wants to play it safe so they make goody two shoes shows (usually procedurals) that don't stand out in any way. That's why virtually every crittically acclaimed American show is a cable drama. From Breaking Bad to Game of Thrones to Mad Men. They're all Cable Dramas. Constantine isn't. That's the problem.

Its possible to drink without abusing alcohol - ANY smoking is bad for you - thats the difference

It's hardly "the one thing" though is it. As if they're going to allow all the swearing, ultra-violence, gore, sex and blasphemy but draw the line at smoking.

Unless of course it's violent. They have no problem with violence on network TV, take for example Hannibal. Very gory and violent, and on NBC.

Yeah Network is weird in that sometimes. Do you know there's this funny anecdote about the X Files (it's on one of the DVD extra's) where they were allowed to show a body decompose but couldn't use the word maggots?

That's typical for Network tv.

The only thing would be that this is a follow on from the movie, which not being a fan of the comic I really enjoyed. Although im a non smoker I appreciate its an aspect of the character and id guess this will be going out after the watershed

Haha, that's ridiculous :)

Well first off, that very much depends on what you're drinking, we're in a society that likes one glass to get them bladdered these days. Secondly, you'd have a very good point if people were only shown drinking in moderation on TV, but they're not. You see characters drinking to excess, drinking their sorrows away, getting drunk etc. all the time and nobody bothers about that. Doesn't even have to be after the watershed.

I never denied that smoking is bad for you.
What I strongly disagree with is trying to ban it from TV like it isn't a part of our world. As I said, Constantine's cancer would have showed people exactly why they shouldn't smoke. That could have some real impact on viewers. But no, instead we try to make them social pariahs, remove them from TV, tell them it's filthy, or just pretend it doesn't exist and expect to make any real difference. I can tell you now, it won't.

Interesting accent having just watched it - Scouse meets Manc and Welsh (ie it's basically a Chester accent - possibly Frodsham)

There's is a scene at a bar near the end where we see him actively extinguishing a ciggy, so all you tobacco fans aren't going to too disappointed - not sure why they didn't have him vaping ironic e-cigarettes though. They missed a trick there.

There was a mac though - thank you apple for your inevitable product placement.

Is this a govt regulatory thing or are NBC enforcing it themselves?

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