Ahead of the NYC premiere of “Justice League Dark,” UMU had the opportunity to speak with Matt Ryan, the (actor) and voice behind our favorite Hellblazer, John Constantine!
*Photography by Sami Diaz.
Justice League Dark, the latest DC Animated movie, comes out today on DVD and Blu-ray. Last week, ahead of the New York City premiere, UMU had the opportunity to speak with the cast and crew, including the actor behind everyone’s favorite Hellblazer, Matt Ryan. The 35-year-old Welsh actor came to prominence among the fan community after portraying John Constantine in the short-lived but well-loved TV show on NBC. Across one season, consisting of 13 episodes, Matt Ryan became John Constantine. He would later reprise his role in an episode of Arrow, and will provide the voice for the DC/Vertigo-based character in an animated series soon to premiere on CW’s The Seed.
Matt Ryan is one of our favorites at UMU– just ask Sami Diaz, who provided photography for us at the NYC premiere, held at the Director’s Guild of America building. The charming Matt Ryan is a favorite of ours to speak with, especially after we had the opportunity to speak with him during 2016’s New York Comic Con. He loves the character of Constantine so much and while for many actors, taking on a character could be just any other role for them to play, Constantine is someone Ryan says “was a real blessing in disguise.” We love hearing his enthusiasm for the role; our affinity for Matt Ryan is only matched by how much fun we have watching him play the character created by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben.
We hope you enjoy this interview with Matt Ryan as much as we had fun speaking with him.
Matt Ryan: It was a real blessing in disguise. I was doing a play in London. I did about 20 takes or so for this role and I had long hair and a big beard. I wasn’t getting anywhere and when the play finished, I flew over, shaved my beard, cut my hair, and got the part. It’s been amazing, man. The character won’t seem to go away which is an amazing thing. To get to play him on Arrow and in this context, this medium is great, as well. To get to kind of work with him again on the animated series; I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been amazing that the fans embraced me as Constantine because it’s such a beloved, iconic character so I feel really lucky for that.
Steven Biscotti: Absolutely and I’m sure it only adds to your enjoyment of portraying the character.
SB: I believe you had said that when you were going into the studio, to record for Justice League Dark, that you felt like just popping on the trench coat.
MR: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah, I did. Someone had told me once that when they did voice work, they would take all their clothes off. ‘That’s interesting, okay,’ I was like ‘I’m not going to do that, but maybe I should just wear [the trench coat.] There’s a physicality to John [Constantine] and a lot of people have been asking the difference between playing John on the live-action and playing John in the animation. You know, the DNA of the character is the same and it’s the same characterization that I had when I was doing the live show. But, you know, there’s a physicality that I had to kind of get into in the booth and I thought the trench coat would work, but I didn’t use the trench coat. After a few lines, I got back into him anyway.
SB: I believe it. Now seeing Justice League Dark is interesting because Constantine is one of the main characters, but he’s also alongside Zatanna, Swamp Thing, and even Batman. What was that like for you to join the project and enter something with an even bigger scope? Do you prefer Constantine on his own or do you like when he interacts with other characters from the DC Universe?
MR: Well, I think John is a loner by nature. Everyone that comes into his life either gets hurt or ends up dying. So what’s great about this Constantine is getting to see him interact with these characters which we didn’t get to do in the live-action show. We were bleeding in the character of James Corrigan, who became The Spectre, and he’d reluctantly work with people. It’s great to be able to explore the relationships we didn’t get a chance to do in the live-action show like Zatanna and Deadman. Batman is one of my favorite relationships in this because he’s skeptical of magic and John knows there is. There both, out of all the superheroes, they’re both kind of guys without super powers. With the skills they have, they have a commonality, but they don’t really get on so much or see eye to eye. And, the way that John is, I mean, it lent for some really great one-liners between the two of them. That was really good fun to play and explore those different relationships.
SB: Was there any particular moments within Justice League Dark that you’re excited for the fans to see? Was there any particular moment that you really had fun recording?
MR: I had fun recording all of it. It was just so much fun and, you know, you have so much freedom working in the booth, as well. But his interaction between Zatanna, that relationship which has been explored over numerous comics, was great to play out. And, also his relationship with Batman, but you know, there’s a bit of Swamp Thing in there, as well. So kind of just exploring those things [and] getting into that was one of the most fun things for me. I think the fans will love the first moment that he interacts with Swamp Thing and the way that he interacts with Batman through the whole thing I think is great. The progression of the relationship with Zatanna is, if you know the backstory and everything that’s been written about the characters, then you’ll feel that all of that is undelayed within the playing of it.
SB: Is there anything, now, that you would still like to see explored…
MR: Oh man!
SB: A particular storyline? Any kind of character flourish that you’d like to see them address that maybe hasn’t been done yet?
MR: I mean there’s so much, man. I look forward to seeing more of what we’re going to do with the animated series. There’s 300 issues of the “Hellblazer” comics, then there’s the New 52, and the new “Hellblazer” comics. So, what’s great for me is that I get a chance to now go back to them and start reading them again. [Laughs] You know, I kind of left them where they were after the show because, obviously, I was disappointed the show didn’t get picked up, but now I have a chance to read again and get into them again.
SB: Well, Matt, thank you so much.
MR: My pleasure, man!
When innocent civilians begin committing unthinkable crimes across Metropolis, Gotham City and beyond, Batman must call upon mystical counterparts to eradicate this demonic threat to the planet. Enter Justice League Dark, reluctantly led by the Hellblazer himself, John Constantine. Like Batman, Constantine is a cunning, often cynical loner who is the best at his chosen profession – but quickly realizes the sinister forces plaguing the planet will require help from other supernatural alliances. Forming a new “league” with sorceress Zatanna, otherworldly Deadman, and Jason Blood and his powerful alter ego Etrigan the Demon, this team of Dark Arts specialists must unravel the mystery of Earth’s supernatural plague and contend with the rising, powerful villainous forces behind the siege – before it’s too late for all of mankind.
Actor Matt Ryan, who set the standard for the role of Constantine on the Warner Bros. live-action television series, returns to the role in animated form alongside Jason O’Mara (Terra Nova, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as Batman, Camilla Luddington (Grey’s Anatomy) as Zatanna, Nicholas Turturro (NYPD Blue, Blue Bloods) as Deadman, Ray Chase (Final Fantasy XV videogame) as Jason Blood/Etrigan, Roger R. Cross (24, Arrow) as John Stewart/Swamp Thing, Jeremy Davies (Justified, Constantine) as Ritchie Simpson, Rosario Dawson (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Sin City) as Wonder Woman, Jerry O’Connell (Stand By Me, Crossing Jordan) as Superman, Enrico Colantoni (Flashpoint, Veronica Mars) as Felix Faust, and Alfred Molina (The Da Vinci Code, Spider-Man 2) as Destiny.
Justice League Dark is directed by Jay Oliva (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). Story by J.M. DeMatteis and Ernie Altbacker (Green Lantern: The Animated Series) and teleplay by Ernie Altbacker. Sam Register is Executive Producer. Benjamin Melniker & Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight trilogy) are co-executive producers. James Tucker (Batman Bad Blood, Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders) is Supervising Producer.
Produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation, Justice League Dark will be distributed February 7, 2017 by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Blu-ray™ Deluxe Giftset (featuring an exclusive Constantine figurine), Blu-ray™ Combo Pack and DVD.
*UMU would like to thank Matt Ryan for speaking with us, along with Gary Miereanu for organizing another great DC Animated premiere. We’d also like to thank Sami Diaz for photography.
(Steven Biscotti – @reggiemantleIII)