Exclusive: While at New York Comic Con this year Gotham TV Podcast were lucky enough to see the pilot of the other big DC show Constantine. The show premiered in the US on NBC on Friday the 24th of October and we sat down at a roundtable at New York Comic Con 2014 to discuss Constantine with Matt Ryan (John Constantine), Angélica Celaya (Zed) and show creator and executive producer David S. Goyer. The roundtable includes questions from other journalists present and our own questions to the cast and creator.
In our Constantine interview we caught up with show runner David S. Goyer who chatted with us about the refreshing change of pace writing Constantine, the fun of the punk influence on the character and the music for the show, his admiration for the Hellblazer comic series and he revealed that someone will turn up on John Constantine’s doorstep to pick up the Helmet of Nabu. You can listen to the full interview on our podcast below or read on for the full interview with Mr. Goyer
Question – You’ve done a lot of TV and you’ve done a lot of movies contrast the experience?
Someone once said that movies is more like oil painting and TV is like water colour. The turnover time in TV is a lot faster, movies you have a lot more time to perfect everything. With TV it’s sometimes that by the time you’re in to your third draft, its time to go. So on one hand that time constraint is harder but also sometimes its better not to over think things and go with your first instinct. But with television you also get to revisit characters and have characters grow and change over the course of the season and this has already happened in our first season. We’ve had a couple of actors come in and really blow us away and we’ve thought “Oh they’re really amazing” and so we’ve brought them back a couple of episodes later.
Question – So in looking at the original version of the pilot and then the pilot that we’ll see later. What do you think is the biggest change in terms of where the show is going now versus where the show might have been going when we saw the trailer back in May?
Well when we first started adapting Constantine I think there was some concern with the audience that we needed a character that was from the audience point of view that was not apart of this world. So we created a character that was not part of the comic books, named Liv, that embodied that point of view. We made the pilot and Lucy who played her did a great job, but as we started breaking the subsequent stories we thought it would be much more interesting and challenging if someone were more of that world and having seen the pilot we were able to convince NBC that maybe we should go in that direction. So we selected a character called Zed, who’s also from the comic books, and she has a really interesting back story, she’s not a blank slate, she’s got a lot of mysteries. She was able to go toe-to-toe more with John and it made for some more interesting dynamics. I think with John and Liv, you know, John was sort of the cut up and Liv was the straight man or straight woman and with Zed they flip flopped those roles and it’s just more interesting.
Question – You’ve worked on a lot of different comic book adaptations. When you approached doing Constantine compared to some of the more superhero properties was there a difference in how you approach the characters themselves or did they feel the same way?
Sure, I mean John doesn’t have any superpowers, he’s not a billionaire, he’s not an alien from another planet, he’s just a regular bloke. He doesn’t have a costume, he doesn’t have a secret identity. If someone arrests him and throws him in jail he is in trouble and that does happen in the first season. He can’t just swoop in and have someone expunge his record. It’s kind of interesting, after having written Batman and Superman, to write someone who doesn’t have access to those powers or that infinite amount of wealth to help him out. He’s also not a hero hero, I mean he’s a jerk, and it’s really refreshing to write a character that’s a jerk.
GTVP Question – We saw the helmet of Doctor Fate in the pilot screening. How far is Constantine going to delve in to the mythology that has been established within the comics?
Should we continue on long enough the plan is that we have access to the broader occult DC universe. So even in the first twelve episodes you’ll see two or three characters that show up that aren’t part of Hellblazer proper that are part of the larger DC universe; and the plan is that eventually someone will show up at John’s door to collect that helmet.
Question – You’re dealing with a supernatural version of the universe in a number of projects, so it’s a very different approach than taking a more straight forward superhero based in science fiction or the real world. How is it to envision things in that way?
It’s a really refreshing change of pace, its nice to be doing something that’s scary, it’s nice to be doing something that’s a bit more funny. I’m a huge fan of John’s roots he was created in the 80’s with a real punk sensibility and we’ve actually licensed a lot of punk songs in the show. I’m proud to say, I don’t know if this is a first or not, but we licensed a Sex Pistols song for episode three. So that is pretty fun having John Constantine listening to the Sex Pistols. I think he listens to Buzzcocks. [Interviewer] Gang of Four? Not yet but hopefully we’ll get there, maybe we’ll get some Cramps and Dead Kennedys.
Question – When there is such a rich pool of characters that you can pull from, how do you decide which ones you are going to bring in to the story and at when is a good time?
It’s story based. So we don’t say “OK we’re going to do a story about Doctor Occult” and I’m not saying we have done a story about Doctor Occult per se. We talk about where it would be good for the story to go or come up with an idea for a story; and then we think if there is an appropriate character in the DC universe that fits with that story and makes sort of sense in an organic way to bring that character in. That’s how Jim Corrigan entered in to the show as a a reoccurring character because we had a need for a homicide detective; and so we thought “You know let’s bring in Corrigan”.
Question – Hellblazer is such a long running series, there are so many storylines that you can choose, there are so many different runs. Do you have a favourite, a particular story line form Hellblazer?
You know I have a lot of favourite story lines and I will say even though the first season loosely tracks American Gothic we’ve already adapted within the first twelve episodes a couple of other singular issues. We’re trying to do a version of one of the Delano issues early on right now. We did a really cool version of the Hunger Demon issue that’s actually one of our better episodes, I think, so far.
Question – How soon do we learn more about Chaz?
Episodes nine or ten, we’ll turn over some cards relating to him.
Question – Do you have a hell of a comic book art collection? Who is you favourite artist?
I’ve got some choice pages. I mean old school [Jack] Kirby and contemporary I really like Steve Rude a lot.