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Keanu Reeves, Djimon Hounsou and Director Francis Lawrence on "Constantine"
"Constantine" Stars Discuss the Supernatural Thriller


Keanu Reeves, Djimon Hounsou and Shia LaBeouf star in "Constantine."
Photo © Warner Bros. Pictures
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• "Constantine" Photos, Credits and Trailer
• Keanu Reeves Films and Photos
 

Keanu Reeves keeps his hair dark and his own accent in place for “Constantine,” the Warner Bros. film set to hit theaters in February 18, 2005. Fans of the “Hellblazer” series were initially up in arms over the departure from the blonde-haired John Constantine with a British accent. But after director Francis Lawrence screened 15+ minutes of his “Constantine” for a comic book savvy audience at the 2004 San Diego Comic Con, those same fans let out a hearty round of applause. Switching the setting from London to LA and putting the raven-haired Keanu Reeves in the lead didn't seem to matter as much after the 5,000+ fans got a good look at Lawrence's version of the Constantine character.

Here's what director Francis Lawrence, "Constantine" star Keanu Reeves and co-star Djimon Hounsou had to say about the creating the world of "Constantine," Keanu's weight loss, and what fans can expect from this adaptation in an interview which occurred during the movie's post-production period:

INTERVIEW WITH FRANCIS LAWRENCE, KEANU REEVES, AND DJIMON HOUNSOU:

What was your approach to this character and how did you make it different?
KEANU REEVES: Well, I ditched the accent. You know, I don't know. I have to wait and see. I really loved the guy. I loved his anger and I loved his wry sense of humor about the kind of awfulness of the world, you know? And having to deal with that day in and day out, and what that's turning him into. I mean, Djimon's playing Midnite and we're kind of like warriors, kind of like in this world of shit and just trying to deal with it. And I really liked it. I liked it.

FRANCIS LAWRENCE: It wasn't necessarily always pleasant to be around Keanu when he was liking John Constantine (laughing).

How would you characterize the effects?
FRANCIS LAWRENCE: Well, we have lots of different kinds. It goes from the simplest rig removals and dot removals, that's the simplest kind of stuff, all the way to complete environments that we built. Character animation and stuff like that. There's some characters that we built in CG, we've got that. There's a whole world that we created mostly digitally. And then there's lots of stuff sort of in between that.

Djimon, why did you want to play Midnite?
DJIMON HOUNSOU: Well, personally, for this story, I must say my connection to this story has more to do with how ironic it is so close to my culture, coming from Africa and knowing the world of the occult in Africa and our view of the occult and how the western world views it. It was just amazing to see the connection and how real it is to me, personally, from stories I've heard back home. It's intriguing. You guys will be nicely surprised, I think.

Keanu, did you ever read comic books as a kid?
KEANU REEVES: Yeah, I read a couple. Yeah, I followed…what did I like? When I read “Ronin” by Frank Miller, I was like, “Oh my God! What is this?!” Then when I saw “Dark Knight,” that series, and then when I went back into “X-Men” and Frank Miller's “Wolverine” series – that was just awesome stuff to me. I collected some “X-Men.” Then when I was a kid, [I liked] “Spider-Man.” But the whole idea of a graphic novel, to me when I was growing up, was just awesome.

No “Archies?”
KEANU REEVES: You know when you're on the bus going to camp? “Richie Rich” – remember?

FRANCIS LAWRENCE: I used to collect “Richie Rich” when I was a kid.

KEANU REEVES: Really?

Do you still read comics?
FRANCIS LAWRENCE: I do occasionally. I don't really collect anything. “Sin City” I like a lot.

Which comic book is “Constantine” based on?
FRANCIS LAWRENCE: It's “Dangerous Habits.” There's little pieces from different things. I mean, there's pieces from “Original Sin.” The sort of big through-line of this movie is “Dangerous Habits.” There's some different pieces of it.

Does this movie feel like a graphic novel?
FRANCIS LAWRENCE: No. My approach to this from the beginning was never to shoot it like a comic book movie. I think that's kind of been done before. I mean, it was done very, very well with Tim Burton's original “Batman.” From there, I don't think anybody's really sort of topped that. Everybody sort of built Gotham City again, whether or not it's called Gotham City. Everybody has done all the dutched angles and all the bright colors and made things super campy. And what I wanted to do, and what I always loved about the comic, is that it was kind of rooted in reality and in real places. And that's what I wanted to do, was to really make it feel real. It seems to be working. It seems to be what people are sort of responding to, is that it's not all hyper-real. It's not super-stylized. It's kind of rooted in a gritty reality.

Will there be elements of horror in “Constantine?”
FRANCIS LAWRENCE: There will be plenty of elements of horror in this. There's plenty of scares, it's creepy throughout. What's interesting about this movie and something I'm really proud of, too, is that it's not really genre-specific. It's not a supernatural thriller. It's not just a horror film. It's not four kids in a van going off and getting chopped up by an ax murderer, you know? It's not just fantasy. It's kind of this weird blend of all these things. I think it really works.

Is bringing this movie and its stars to Comic Con to help clear up any ideas about the film, or is it just to help build publicity?
FRANCIS LAWRENCE: I think there's a mix. Look, “Hellblazer” has a very small fan base but it has a very hardcore fan base. One thing is to help build awareness with people who might not be aware of “Hellblazer” or where “Constantine” has something to do with “Hellblazer.” The other thing is a lot of the “Hellblazer” fans are really hardcore. They've been tough on the movie and they've been tough on certain things, and we want to sort of show them we have not made “Van Helsing.” It's not a straight up 'pop' movie. I feel that the heart of the character is in this movie, and I think that's important.

What is this movie really about? How do you describe the character of John Constantine?
KEANU REEVES: He's fighting for his life. We were traveling here this morning and I was like, “So, when they ask us what this film's about…”

FRANCIS LAWRENCE: I told him not to say. I said, “You guys have to see it.”

KEANU REEVES: Redemption, and all that.

FRANCIS LAWRENCE: If you look at “Dangerous Habits,” if you know that it's based on “Dangerous Habits,” it is sort of clear what the film's about.

KEANU REEVES: Constantine, you know, he committed suicide to get out of here. He can see things and has knowledge about the way the world works that is distressing to him, and he tried to get a way out. He committed suicide and now he's trying to find his way into Heaven, into the Lord's grace. I think it's about him trying to find his life, a better life, and his struggle with his own nature. Because he's not the nicest guy all the time, which is fun.

CONTINUED ON PAGE 2: Changing the Name from "Hellblazer" to "Constantine," the Potential Rating, and Setting the Film in LA

"CONSTANTINE" RESOURCES:
"Constantine" Photo Gallery
"Constantine" Credits, Trailer and Websites

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