Despite NBC ending his show, Matt Ryan’s John Constantine has continued to live on for the last few years on television and various animation. After Constantine ended on NBC, Ryan’s fan-favorite character quickly came over to the Arrowverse as he has appeared on Arrow as well as Legends of Tomorrow where he will be a series regular next season.
But Ryan has also lent his voice to John in animation through Justice League Dark as well as his own animated series Constantine: City of Demons on CW Seed. DC TV Podcasts’ own Snarky Shawn joined fellow reporters at WonderCon this year to chat with Ryan as he talked about the character’s sexuality, the journey that is still going and more.
Ryan on what it’s like to be one of the few bisexual superheroes on television:
“I think it’s great to have that kind of diversity, you know, in and on television but what’s so great is that it’s the character himself. And I think that you know with John what’s great about him is, you know, you’ll take it either way. It’s not like he is one thing. He just goes with a moment on whatever that is. And the things staying true to that part of the character in the comic books is great. It’s been an interesting thing to explore so far on Legends of Tomorrow.”
Whether or not Ryan thinks Constantine has a label for himself in terms of his sexuality:
“No, I don’t think he has a label at all. I think for him it’s like ‘I like this’ and ‘I like that.’ For him, it’s whatever works.”
What Ryan thinks of some of the stories being played out on City of Demons:
“I really liked it…I thought it was quite gory! I thought it was really quite gory and I was like ‘S**t! It’s not for kids!’ Which is great. But I think it’s a really character driven piece. You get the relationship between John and Chaz and then also the Newcastle stuff as well. And it’s a great comic anyway. All his engines and I think that that when I read the script, he’s got such a great job in it and I’m excited to see what you guys think of the later episodes when it gets even more personal for John. I think that’s the one thing that I really enjoyed about it. It’s a proper John Constantine kind of story.”
How Ryan felt about when he first heard the news that CW Seed was doing an animated series:
“Well what was funny is I was actually in Thailand! I was in Thailand at the time on holiday and David Goyer emailed me and said ‘Look, we’re going to be doing this. Will you please do it?’ And I was like, I mean straight away you know because I love the character and to get to play in any different medium is a great thing and you can do so with much animation that you can’t do on the live-action show. So that was a real treat as well.”
Ryan’s experience with the Constantine and Hellblazer comic books:
“Oh there’s so many, man. I’ve just started reading them again, you know, and I think I’ve read about 150 when I was originally doing the show and then I stopped. And I’ve just picked up Hellblazer Rebirth so I’m going to read that and I think I’m going to go back again and just, you know, brush up on some of the others. The one that always sticks with me is the first one I ever read is Dangerous Habits. And then the other one that I was really interested in when we were shooting Constantine the show, was Family Man because I think it’s really interesting just seeing John interact with a human being on the dark side of humanity. I think he’s, you know, he can be almost fine with the demons, but when it comes to human beings and it’s slightly more difficult. So it would have been interesting to explore in the live action [show], which is why I also think that it could help with the budget, you know what I mean? Because you don’t have to do all these explosions and spells and stuff but there are so many great comics and I’m looking forward to getting in and reading them again.”
Given that Constantine can be a bit unlikeable sometimes, what traits in the character does Ryan connect with the most and what does he think is some of the character’s most important aspects:
“I think that, you know, he can be funny and he has that wit charm, but it has to be juxtaposition with the torment of his soul, otherwise it just becomes cheesy. You really need that and it needs to be rooted in. That’s really important for me, the most fun bit about it is the little quips some one-liners and some of the writers for the City of Demons and Constantine the show, all the writers across the board they really kind of get his cadence and those little one-liners that he, you know, he just flips his middle finger up to the Devil and says piss off. You know, that’s a very important part of the character. He’s kind of nonchalant attitude towards people.”
How it has been for Ryan to return to the character after taking a break with Constantine over the last few years:
“It’s great to be able to kind of pick the character up again began what was interesting is the most difficult kind of point of entry to coming back to him was doing Legends because I had thought it was done. And I just finished doing a play in London. I was doing a really thick Yorkshire accent in this play which is set in pre-industrial Britain and I was going straight from that to Legends of Tomorrow. And I kept on playing, when I was working on, I kept on doing John in Yorkshire accent. ‘This is wrong man!’ Because I don’t use my own accent for John, it’s a mix. It’s got a little bit of a northern accent in there and was a bit of a nod to where he’s from and stuff. And Wales is actually really close to Liverpool so there is some vowel sounds that are the same. But it’s not my accent that I use but there was this moment when I was like ‘This is wrong, like this doesn’t feel like John’, so I went back and I watched the TV show. And started to read all the old comics and look at my old notes that I had made. After a while it did start to come back, you know. But what was funny as well as I watched the TV show and I’m like ‘What are you doing with that walk?! I mean, where did that come from?’ Because like, he struts, he really struts! And I was like ‘F*****g hell man, what are you doing?!’ But then once I started to get back into the character, you know, I really did feel that that’s needed, he is that kind of cocky guy. It’s been so different from me but, it’s really fun to play.”
Since Constantine has had sort of a problematic time finding a home on television, what does Ryan think is the path the character will take between joining Legends of Tomorrow or the continuous animation work he is doing:
“I’m not sure, you know, it’ll be interesting to see. I think I think that the animation is great because it is a Constantine story and fans will really be able to enjoy that as a standalone thing and also the fans of the Hellblazer comics will have fun. I think seeing one of the original comics adapted to the animation and what is great is seeing, you know, on Legends, I mean how is he going to interact with those guys. What kind of dynamic is it going to bring to him being on that ship? You know, he doesn’t really work well with the team. So those are the interesting things to see kind of how he develops in that world as well. And for me, it’s all interesting and I just hope that, you know, the fans will enjoy him in these different mediums as well. 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 that I had read, you know, and kind of find some more interesting things to bring to it.”
Whether or not Ryan would actually like to see the Dangerous Habits storyline play out:
“Fuck yeah, man! Pardon my language but yeah that’s like my favorite one at the moment. It’s just like, it’s great. My hope was that we would get there with the live action show. One thing I’ve learned from playing this character is never say never at all. Every time I thought ‘It’s up to them’, they called me back and so, you know, hopefully one day we’ll get there. Even if it’s someone else playing the part down the line, I would love to see this character, you know, whether it be in animation or live action, play that storyline out because it’s one of my favorites.”
The first five episodes of Constantine: City of Demons Season 1 is now streaming on CW Seed. Legends of Tomorrow Season 4, featuring Ryan as a series regular, will premiere sometime in the 2018-2019 TV season on The CW.
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