With hit after hit coming from Warner Brothers Animation’s DC Animated Universe direct-to-video film series, it only seemed it would be a matter of time before things started to go dark. ‘Justice League Dark’ of course! That’s right, the team at Warner Brothers Animation are bringing a whole new life to DC Comics ‘Justice League Dark’ series with an all new animated movie adaptation! The film will focus on heroes like Zatanna, Swamp Thing, The Demon Entrigan, Batman, and of course John Constantine facing against the forces of darkness! Taking on the lead role of Constantine is none other than the man who played him in his live action television series, Matt Ryan! At New York Comic Con 2016, we were able to talk to Matt about returning to the role for this fantastic looking new animated feature!
So how does it feel to get back into the role of John Constantine?
Matt Ryan: It feels good man! I miss wearing the trenchcoat, though. Because in the studio, I was just in my civies. I was thinking about bringing in the jacket just to get into the character, but it was great! He’s such an amazing character to get to play and I love playing him so much. I loved to play him on TV and to get to do him in this medium as well has been wonderful.
When you got the role for the television series, were you familiar with the character? or did you just grab some comics and start doing research?
MR: I was familiar, but I had to really do my research! A friend of mine whose favorite character is Constantine and he loved the ‘Hellblazer’ comics so when I told him that I got the job he sat me down and was light “alright… look you don’t understand, listen…”! He was very helpful, and I was almost kind of nervous to see what he thought of the TV show because he’s my friend and he loves the character! We’re all fans in a way, but we’re really trying to do the character justice. In doing Constantine in this context as well is great! To come back after our show had been cancelled and come back on ‘Arrow’ and now to come back again has been great!
In the comics, Constantine is quite familiar with the character of Lucifer, who has his own show now as well! Would you be interested in seeing your version of Constantine hanging out with the new television version of Lucifer?
MR: Since I shot my appearance on “Arrow’, I have been lucky enough in this industry to be working constantly! This is actually the first break I’ve had since I did ‘Arrow’, which is great! So I don’t know if there are any plans to bring Constantine in on any of the others shows or anything like that, but it’s something that I’d love to experience! Hopefully! I love the character and I’m available now, although maybe not for long.
How is it different being on camera for the show versus being more behind the scenes doing ‘Justice League Dark’?
MR: It’s cool! You don’t have to worry about makeup, you can do it in sweatpants, or just in your pants (your underwear, for those of you who aren’t up on the latest slang!), and they tell me that there is this one voice actor who actually does that! He turns the lights down and gets sort of semi-naked! So I think that the next time I do it, if I’m lucky enough to do it, I may do that just to try it out just to see how it feels! There is a huge difference though. You’re not interacting with the other actors and you aren’t on set. You don’t have as many time constraints in terms of television stuff, and there is just a lot more you can do in the animation world! There is a lot of magical stuff you can do without having to worry about spending lots of money on special effects! It was a really interesting medium to play in. I’ve only ever done one other thing like this, I was Edward Kenway in ‘Assassins Creed: Black Flag’, and most of that was motion-capture so it was like working on a movie in a studio! Then I did like two days of voice work, which is mostly just shouting commands and stuff. But this is my first animated movie and I’d love to do some more of it because it’s a lot of fun! I wanted to do the other voices as well, or at least some of them! You know like ‘The Demon’s voice, how fun would that be you know?
MR: I think there were one or two little things, but the script was so good! I think that they had written him so well with all of the colloquialisms and things like that. I think there was a few tiny little things we needed to tweak. The spells are always difficult! The spells were always difficult when we were doing the TV show though too. LIke we’d be on set and suddenly I’d get the script and I’d be speaking like five different languages and you would want to make sure you get that right! So they would get different dialect coaches and people speaking in all of these languages and sometimes they would have to have an ear piece! I could work on pronouncing it all, but remembering some of this stuff was tough! I found that all of the spells in the animation, while still tough, we didn’t have the same time constraints so we could just do it over and over again!
Where there any changes in the character from the show to this new animated movie?
MR: I mean, you see him interacting with characters who you had never seen on the TV show like Swamp Thing, Zatanna, Batman and Deadman… and Ritchie is there was well! Jeremy (Davies) did the voice of Richie as well which was awesome! I think what I tried to do was try to bring what I knew of Constantine, and I think they wanted that, and just adapt it to the script and context that we were working with.
Was there any one part of the script that, when you read it, really stood out as your favorite part about it?
MR: Constantine’s relationship with Batman! Where he just calls him ‘Batsy’, and batman pulls out his little Batarang and Constantine just laughs at it. Their interaction is just really witty and funny. Also his relationship with Zatanna, because there is a real emotional history and emotional connection there. I liked getting to play that out, even though I was kind of playing it out by myself since there was no one else there when I recorded it. You know, just exploring that, which is something I didn’t get to do in the TV show… that was really cool.
As an actor, how was trying to talk to and have an emotional connection to someone who wasn’t actually there with you when you were recording your performance?
MR: I kind of found it really liberating! It’s like when I did ‘Assassins Creed’, I kind of equate it to when I was a schoolkid and running around the school yard, and there is a stick! You pick up the stick and suddenly it’s a sword, it’s a gun, and you use your imagination! It’s kind of like that. You just need to use your imagination a lot more than if you look at someone and you’re playing against them. I kind of love that though, because you get to just be a kid again in a sandbox.
If you had the choice to team Constantine up with anyone in the DC Universe, who would it be?
MR: I don’t know if I’d say I’d pair them up, but do you know who I would like to see him come across? The Joker. I mean, I don’t know what would happen there! Constantine is just so nonchalant while The Joker is… The Joker! And they’re both bastards! I think that’s kind of cool.
‘Justice League Dark’ is set to release on DVD, Bluray, and Video On Demand in early 2017. It stars Matt Ryan (John Constantine), Jason O’Mara (Batman), Camilla Luddington (Zatanna), Nicholas Turturro (Deadman), Ray Chase (Jason Blood/The Demon), and Dee Bradley Baker.