Fans of the DC-based television series universe have a lot to look forward to this year. The CW’s flagship hit series Arrow will return, along with the premiere of its spinoff The Flash, FOX will roll out the Batman prequel Gotham, and NBC is bringing the world a Hellblazer adaptation in Constantine.
The show debuts this October just a week before Halloween, starring Matt Ryan as the titular sorcerer – and judging from the trailers we’ve seen, creator Daniel Cerone (Dexter, The Mentalist) and pilot director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) are bringing a far more faithful adaptation of the famed DC/Vertigo character to the small screen than, say, the infamous Keanu Reeves-starring 2005 film. Still, like that oft-derided effort, the show will definitely feature the seminal Hellblazer character Papa Midnite.
Now we know who’ll be playing him. According to USA Today, actor Michael James Shaw will portray the “voodoo king of New Orleans” in Constantine, in what is being described as a “recurring guest role.” Aside from a credit on HBO’s The Wire as a Homeless Man, Shaw has appeared mainly in short films; the role of Papa Midnite will be his major mainstream breakthrough.
Hardcore Hellblazer fans have plenty of reasons to frown upon (putting it mildly) the movie Constantine, but one bit of casting that project arguably nailed was its own version of Papa Midnite, played by Djimon Honsou (Korath in Guardians of the Galaxy). Honsou’s Midnite left a huge impression in a brief amount of screen time, due entirely to Honsou’s charisma.
Still, this is a new Constantine; we have yet to see single frame of Michael James Shaw’s Midnite, but he does look the part. In the comic books, Papa Midnite is sometimes an opponent of Constantine and sometimes an ally, depending on the situation. The role will require an aura of moral ambiguity on the part of Shaw.
Casting a relative unknown as such a famous Hellblazer character is a wise move fiscally, but also lends Papa Midnite a huge air of mystery. We’ve seen Matt Ryan in action, with he and the show itself looking far better than anyone expected. Can we expect the same from Shaw’s Papa Midnite? We’ll find out soon enough.
Constantine will premiere on October 24th on NBC.
Source: USA Today