Comic books are officially taking over both movies and television, so perhaps it’s no surprise that even a niche character like Hellblazer‘s John Constantine is getting his own TV show on NBC, courtesy of Man of Steel writer David S. Goyer and The Mentalist‘s executive producer Daniel Cerone.
At this point we know nothing about the pilot beyond the names of the writers and NBC chairman Robert Greenblatt’s description of it as “dark” but “fun.” Since NBC’s Constantine could be young or old and may not even be a Brit, here are the actors that we think would be best equipped to capture the spirit of the role.
Boasting an acting range that has taken him from the gritty, harsh world of 1980s British white nationalism in This is England to the fast-paced fantasy adventure of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Stephen Graham is an accomplished TV actor who would be well-equipped to hit the various beats of Constantine’s complex personality.
Like Constantine, Graham was born is Merseyside but has affected a range of both British and American regional accents for various roles, meaning that he could easily adapt to whichever setting and character background Goyer and Cerone decide to go for. He’s not a bad fit for a mid-career Constantine and – as the picture opposite shows – he looks good in a trenchcoat.
In recent memory, British actor Callum Blue is best known for playing General Zod on The CW’s Smallville, which means that he’s already had a cursory initiation into the DC universe. What makes him stand out as a strong candidate for the John Constantine role, however, is his performance as undead petty criminal Mason in Bryan Fuller’s grim reaper dramedy Dead Like Me.
A talented comedic actor who can also handle heavy emotional scenes with subtlety, Blue would be a great choice for a protagonist whose abrasive humor and charm lights up even the darkest of supernatural horror plots.
Game of Thrones star Iain Glen would be a prime pick for a latter-day Constantine, and not just because he looks the part. This Scottish actor has a great deal of experience in TV, movies, and on the stage, so it’s easy to imagine him as the angry and world-weary magician who has literally been to hell and back.
Going with an actor like Glen would also open the show up to exploring some of the later Hellblazer storylines, including Constantine’s return to Ravenscar and the discovery of his long-lost brother. This would also be a great opportunity for flashbacks to his younger life, with another actor taking on the role of young Constantine.
Blond-haired, blue-eyed Brit Paul Bettany could have been born to play the role of John Constantine. His attempted forays into supernatural fantasy – including Legion and Priest, most recently – haven’t panned out too well but they are evidence of his attraction to the genre and a TV show could be just the place for him to finally spread his wings.
At 42 years old Bettany is a good fit for an experienced but not yet over-the-hill Constantine. He’s currently providing the voice of Tony Stark’s back-chatting artificial intelligence computer JARVIS in the Marvel movie franchise, but there’s no reason he can’t spend some time in the DC universe as well.
Leaning towards the younger, sexier end of Constantine’s career – which, let’s face it, is the end that NBC is most likely to go for – True Blood‘s Ryan Kwanten looks the part and, given his talent for accents, could play the role as either an American or British Constantine depending on what the showrunners are looking for.
One interesting direction that Goyer and Cerone could take, if they do choose to portray a youthful Constantine, is to cover his punk band years and the trauma that eventually landed him in Ravenscar. It would certainly make for a powerful opening season, and Kwanten would be ideal for a younger and more naive version of the character.
Sting – The original inspiration for Constantine’s look only has a few acting credits to his name, but at least deserves a mention.
Keanu Reeves – He did a decent job in 2005’s Constantine, which was also an OK film despite failing to really capture the spirit of the comics.
James Van Der Beek – Hey, it could work.
Those are our picks, but don’t keep quiet about your own. Tell us in the comments which actor you think would be perfect for the role of John Constantine.