NBC recently picked their leading man for their upcoming serial adaptation of Vertigo Comics’ Hellblazer, alternately dubbed Constantine for television (keeping title continuity with both DC Comics’ New 52 series and the 2005 Keanu Reeves film); that would be Matt Ryan, who gamers may recognize as the voice behind Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag‘s hero, Edward Kenway. Not long after making that call, info leaked about the show’s setting (New York), and its overarching heavy, voodoo practitioner and central antagonist, in familiar Constantine baddie Papa Midnite.
Speculation about who NBC would choose to portray Midnite has been ubiquitous ever since, which makes today’s updates to Constantine‘s cast list both mildly disappointing and pleasantly surprising. Basic logic dictates that NBC announcing Ryan’s participation in the program should naturally lead to a reveal of the person who will serve as his primary nemesis from season to season; turns out that the company has other plans for the character, yet to be disclosed.
Even though we still don’t know who’s going to antagonize the hard-drinking magician, occult detective, and con man, we now know – thanks to THR – who will stand in as his allies, confirming what previous character name listings have told us. Harold Perrineau (Lost, Sons of Anarchy), Lucy Griffiths (True Blood), and, perhaps most importantly, Charles Halford (True Detective) will all aid Constantine throughout his adventures battling the darkness. While the former two will play original characters created for the show, Halford will play none other than Chas Chandler, John Constantine’s longtime friend and sidekick from the comics.
Chandler has been a part of the Hellblazer mythos since the comic’s inception; he and Constantine have history together, pulling one another out of bad situations time and time again (although John repeatedly tries to hide the more dangerous elements of his life so as to protect Chas). Halford’s work on True Detective has been minimal, but he makes great use of his limited screen time as meth cooker Reggie. It’s a role that doesn’t suggest shades of Chas, but he’s a skilled actor, and should easily be able to prove himself in Constantine.
Perrineau, meanwhile, plays Manny, an angel tasked with keeping an eye on Constantine on Earth. His celestial powers allow him to step into mortal bodies; it’s a gift that suits his drive to help others well, and yet clashes with the apparent moratorium placed on intervening in Constantine’s affairs. Whether that particular ability will be how Manny primarily communicates with Constantine from the other side, or how he’ll skirt around the non-intervention clause of his job, remains to be seen.
Griffiths will provide the series with its Rachel Weisz analogue; as Liv, Griffiths joins Constantine’s cause for apparently protective purposes. She’s marked for death by a demon, and unlike most humans, she can perceive the supernatural. Is that because of her run-in with evil itself, or just something she’s born with? It could be that the reason she’s wanted dead is precisely because she can see supernatural beings, but again, specifics remain undisclosed for the time being.
These are three very strong casting choices, even if they’re mostly for characters we don’t know quite yet. (Though if dedicated readers of the comic can say otherwise, feel free in the comments.) Between their participation and that of Game of Thrones alum Neil Marshall, who’s on-board to direct the pilot, Constantine is looking better by the day.
Constantine is expected to premiere on NBC in 2014/2015.