August 26, 2003
Warren Ellis speaks Constantine

Warren Ellis, who has authored many issues of Hellblazer (some of the best of the ones that I have read), finally talks about the upcoming Constantine in today's BAD SIGNAL:

cover of a Hellblazer written by Warren Ellis

"Anyway. And then I ended up drinking with Tilda Swinton. This was one of those weird moments; she kept saying "serendipitous," which is not a word I would attempt after mixing that much whisky and beer. She's just been offered the part of the angel Gabriel in CONSTANTINE, the film of the comics series HELLBLAZER, which I wrote for a year. So we had an hour of discussing the character, the book, the selection of Keanu Reeves (which is actually a big part of her interest. I've always said that Reeves is a better actor than anyone gives him credit for -- watch him carefully, and you'll see him deliberately creating a space for other actors to work in), and the possibilities in the role in relationship to America today. She said something I found fascinating: in an America where a president again invokes the term Evil in public statements, there's the potential to say something very interesting in a major-studio film about Biblical good and evil. To present the angel Gabriel as a figure of horror; there's space to say something that in the mainstream of American culture is certainly subversive. She characterised Reeves as an intelligent, "spiritual" man, and thinks there might be the possibility, with Reeves there, to do something challenging.

This, by the way, is the answer to the almost-daily emails asking what I think of Keanu Reeves cast as Constantine. First; the film is never going to be the same as the comic. American or English, the film will succeed if it's true to the core of the man, because that's what hooks people into the book. Nicolas Cage, I maintain, would have made a good Constantine because he can do the ravaged, shattered side of the man. I think Reeves is an interesting choice because he can get at the other part of Constantine, the part that demands social justice and exists in ethical turmoil. His partner for the story is being played by Rachel Weisz, whom people seem to have forgotten can act -- she broke out of British television in the same piece as Ewan McGregor, THE SCARLET AND THE BLACK. With Tilda Swinton as Gabriel, this is all far from a bad proposition.

But, of course, I haven't read the script.

Reading this from someone so close to the property really gives me a new hope and enthusiasm for this movie. Nice to hear him say good things about Keanu as well. And I like the way he puts it: "deliberately creating a space for other actors to work in". A very good way to describe Keanu's non-scenery-chewing approach to his craft and generosity that many that have worked with him can attest to, and his critics seem to mistake for something lacking in his ability.

cinema , constantine | from inside the mind of krix at August 26, 2003 06:10 PM .

At last a refreshing voice of reason regarding the Reeves-Constantine matter. Anyone who works with him and knows him understands his generosity towards his fellow actors. He brings a rare quality to the work. I can only believe he will grasp Constantine with eloquence and gusto, because he so understands the part. But of course, this is something we have known all along. Only a true master can make hard work look easy. Just nice to see others finally "get it." And so it goes, Mr. Reeves, doing things beautifully and quietly with so much class.

Posted by: Rhonda on August 26, 2003 07:15 PM

well, i never said keanu couldn't do it...i just said he *shouldn't* do it, and i stand by that assertion. given the fact that he is *gonna* do it, i'm glad to see someone in the know give him his props. we shall see...

Posted by: lori on August 26, 2003 08:25 PM

Thanks Krix for the post. What an encouraging sign.

Don't you love the fact that part of the reason that Tilda wanted to do the part is due to her experience with him on Thumbsucker? Her and Pucci (sp?) walked away big fans from what we have all read lately.

I wonder how this is playing over at the comic boards?

Lori, as a matter of interest, how did you feel about him doing Donnie? For the record, I feel a twinge of the same apprehension. :)

Posted by: Tyler on August 26, 2003 09:07 PM

After the positives you've referenced herein, I truly believe that Keanu's portrayal of Constantine will be something quite phenomenal. I further believe this role will provide the latitude to show the constantly more-than-capable, or should I just say extraordinary, acting fiber Keanu is made of.

Posted by: phoenix IX on August 26, 2003 09:37 PM

"deliberately creating a space for other actors to work in".

That statement has finally defined for me one of the aspects of his presence on the screen and epitomizes why his fellow actors speak of him in such high regard. His mere presence on the screen is nearly enough - for example in DA in the way he was able to hold his own in scenes where Al Pacino was literally chewing the scenery. I have since wondered if Al was just a bit over the top due to his fear of being overshadowed by his co-star. Vanity - Al's favorite sin?

It gives me chillbumps to read stuff like this - he is finally starting to get some respect for his substantial abilities. YAY!

Posted by: Chianti on August 27, 2003 07:14 AM

Well Tilda has the Keanubug.

There will be more...

Posted by: Jen on August 27, 2003 10:19 AM

Tyler, it's not about him playing a bad guy (like Donnie, whose portrayal i loved, btw), but about him playing this beloved comic book character who, it appears, is being completely bastardized by the scriptwriters. so the fanboys are gonna be pissed, and most likely lay the blame on keanu, whipping boy for the world... wow, that got a little grandiose at the end, didn't it?

did i mention someone bashed in the door of my new car tonight, as it sat quietly in a faculty parking lot on campus? damn, it's been a rough day.

Posted by: lori on August 27, 2003 08:34 PM

DUDE! that sucks.

Posted by: krix on August 27, 2003 08:37 PM

tell me about it! when it rains it pours...

Posted by: lori on August 27, 2003 09:37 PM
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