To paraphrase Walt Whitman, each of us is large, containing multitudes. For an actor, understanding this is arguably one of the most important parts of their job. Of course, most actors probably don’t walk into an audition expecting to be asked to embody those multitudes in such a literal way. But that’s exactly what Rachel Kimsey had to do for ‘Constantine: City of Demons’, in which she plays Angela, the embodiment of the city of Los Angeles itself. As esoteric concepts go, that certainly is one. So just how do you go about playing a city? Well, that was exactly the question on our minds when we sat down with Ms. Kimsey at New York Comic Con, so read on to get the answer in her own words!
A lot of actors, when they approach a role, they try to find things they can draw on to get into character. What did you draw on to play the city of Los Angeles?
The really fun thing about a character like this is the best way to approach it is by not censoring yourself. And so getting to tap into that dark side, getting to tap into that sexy side… Getting to tap into those things that are usually not appropriate for dinner table conversation was really fun and really freeing. It’s not very often that you get to go “Oh, darker? Oh, sexier? Oh, okay!” And to not have to hold anything back and to actually be rewarded for a change for going all the way to the end of an impulse instead of being slapped on the knuckles and told “Hey! Behave!” was really fun. And that, I think, is one of my favorite things about this movie in general. It’s not R-rated the sake of an R-rating. It was that we weren’t told that we had to censor ourselves or anything. We were able to honor this world and honor ‘Constantine’ and honor these characters and this story and do it right. And that happens to mean, in this case, an R-rating, because this world is dark. And the spirits that he works with are dark. And he does smoke. And those things honor the character and the world that fans love, and I think that’s what people are gonna really love about it.
Was it difficult to know what the voice of a city should be like? What sort of direction did you get for that?
Well, Wes Gleason, our voice director, gave me the best note ever on our first day. He’s like, “You know that stuff that you’re not allowed to do when you play Wonder Woman? You get to do all of that here.” So for me, it became really dark and warm and husky and grounded and rooted. That place where you just start to feel Earthy and your voice starts to come from deep in your body instead of resonating in your head. And I was like, “This character is so old and has so much going on that she wouldn’t push up into her head. She’s of her body and she is of this space.” And getting to do that was really fun. Outside of Jessica Rabbit, you don’t get to do it very often.
What is it about the characters and the world that you think this movie gets so right?
I think what it gets right is… One of the things I’ve always loved about Constantine is that there’s a level of need that borders on desperation when he’s not trying to fight it. For how much Constantine wants the world to be ordered and to be right and to be good, he just has so many of his own demons to battle that you don’t get to see that side of him very often. And he pushes so much to find that good through the darkness that he can see, and that he alone can see so often. I mean think about the conversations he has with Chas where Chas is like, “Is this really happening? Is this a real thing?” And he’s like, “Yeah, this is the real world. You just don’t see it that often.” So to get to playfully in the world where that darkness is present, but he keeps looking for the hope, he keeps looking for the answers, he keeps looking for the solutions, I think at least for me what keeps people coming back to Constantine is acknowledging the darkness of the world but continuing to seek for hope and for light and for answers. And in this case, some of those answers come in sexier places than others, and some of them come in really sad places. And I think there’s a turn that’ll really be satisfying, that’s heartbreaking and powerful and really rewarding in this story that people are gonna really like.
Are there any aspects of the character that might not have been too prevalent in this movie that maybe moving forward you’d like to say “This is another dimension of Constantine that we really don’t get to show. Let’s touch on this now.”?
Boy, that is a big question! For me, the fun is to watch how fully Matt embodies this character at this point, and how much he’s taken it on. I really like that because he’s become a little more popular, he’s in the popular imagination where people know about him, I really like the kind of lighter, brighter sides that we’ve been able to see, that we don’t explore as much in this one. I think there’s something really fun in, I mean… I like to see the day where ‘Constantine’ doesn’t have to battle any bad guys, he just has to live with himself. I want to see the day where a lot of these heroes are like, “It’s Tuesday and no one’s trying to blow up the city, so now what do I do?” We don’t get to see that very often. And I think it’d be really fun to explore. I apparently like really boring comic books.
That sort of character driven stuff is interesting though. It’s like when the X-Men are just playing baseball at the mansion.
Is there any particular scene in the movie that wowed you when you saw it?
All I will say is there is a party scene that on screen is… I’m just gonna use the word “disturbing,” to a degree that is really hard to convey on a page, and I now worry a little bit about our animators. [laughs] Because I was like, “Oh when you read that, that’s what you made? Okay…”
‘Constantine: City of Demons’ stars Matt Ryan, Damian O’Hare, and Rachel Kimsey. The film is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital platforms.