Matt Ryan’s journey as John Constantine was nothing but start and stop. Landing the lead role in an NBC series was a huge boon but the show was quickly (and unjustly) cancelled. Fans rallied behind it and even Arrow star Stephen Amell offered to guest on the show. While the live action series hasn’t returned Constantine did manage to pop up on Arrow for what seemed to be a love letter to the fans. It wasn’t the full return they wanted but at least Matt Ryan’s version of the character got a bit of closure.
That was until he was thrown full force into the DCTV universe. Ryan has now guested on Legends of Tomorrow season 3 and voiced the character in the animated movie Justice League Dark and animated series Constantine: City of Demons.
For Ryan, who once thought he had put the character to bed after his appearance on Arrow, it was difficult to pick Constantine back up again for Legends.
“There was this moment where I was like, ‘this is wrong. This doesn’t feel like John.’” he told us at Wonder Con.
After finishing a play in London, where he was using a thick Yorkshire accent (Constantine himself has more of Northern accent), he found he couldn’t quite get the voice of the character right. Without that the whole character wasn’t working. “I was like, ‘this is wrong, man. Where the fuck is he?’”
Ryan had to revisit the NBC TV series and go through all his old notes about Constantine to find not only the accent but the character. It was actually in a bit of self-criticism about his acting choices where he found his way back into his old headspace.
“As I watched the TV I’m like, ‘what are you doing with that walk?’ I mean, where did that walk come from? I mean he struts, man. He really struts and I was like, ‘fucking hell, man, what are you doing?’ I was just laughing but then once I started to get back into the character I really did feel that’s needed. He is really that kind of cocky guy that’s so different from me but that’s really fun to play.”
Ryan is excited by how his character will interact with the Legends team going forward, now that he’ll be a lead character in season four.
“What kind of dynamic is it going to be bring to him being on that ship? He doesn’t really work well with a team. So those are the interesting things to see kind of how he develops in that world. I just hope that the fans will enjoy him in these different mediums.”
Ryan believes that animation will be the perfect place for fans of the original Hellblazer comics to see those stories adapted to the screen. Constantine will be sharing the spotlight in Legends but in the animated world he can take center stage.
No matter where Constantine has ended up though, Ryan always turns back to the source material for continuing inspiration.
“My job now is to go back to the comics and kind of see how much more I can glean and gather from what I haven’t read and re-read some of the stuff to find more interesting things to him to him and play with it,” he says.
After so many starts and stops in getting the Constantine character back on screen, Ryan has learned to never say never when it comes to where the characters will end up.
“Every time I thought it was dead they’ve pulled me back in.”
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Follow him on Twitter!