With the animated series Constantine: City of Demons, available to stream at CW Seed, and a recurring arc on The CW series Legends of Tomorrow, which will turn into a regular gig, if it’s back for Season 4 (and of course, it will be!), John Constantine (played to perfection by Matt Ryan) isn’t going anywhere. And whether it’s in live-action or animated form, or it has a lighter tone or a dark storyline, the one thing that can always be counted on is that Constantine will be Constantine, with his dry wit, trench coat and cigarettes.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actor Matt Ryan talked about how he really thought he’d hung the trench coat up for good, when the NBC series Constantine was canceled, how he became a part of the Arrow-verse, what he enjoys about getting to explore the character in animated form, why Constantine is a character that you can drop into any of the shows and he’ll work, as he is, in any genre and tone, what it’s been like to join the cast of Legends, wondering just how he’ll fit into the team, and whether we might get to see Constantine in a costume without his trench coat.
Collider: I am so happy to be speaking to you about you again playing John Constantine, since it seemed like there was a time that we weren’t going to see that happen again.
MATT RYAN: Yes, it was four years ago now, when we did the show, and the times are still alive. It’s great!
It seems as though you just can’s seem to quit this character, whether you like it or not, which is great because I can’t imagine anyone else doing it. When the show was canceled, did you think that was it? Did you think you’d be hanging up the trench coat, forever?
RYAN: Yeah, I really did. We waited a while, to see if the show was gonna be picked up, and as always, there’s a long period of time where you can’t do anything, as an actor, because you’re tied to the show and you can’t really seek other work. I had had an offer to do a play on Broadway with Keira Knightley, and they were gracious enough to hold the offer long enough. They were just about to pull the plug and say, “Look, we really need an answer now.” And then, they back with an answer to say that the show was canceled, and I went ahead. But, every cloud has its silver lining. The show was canceled, but then I got to go off and do some wonderful theater. I thought that was it, and it was done.
Then, were you just completely shocked when you realized that there was a possibility that you could come back in the Arrow-verse?
RYAN: I was, yeah. I was shocked. When I found out about Arrow, I was about two weeks away from starting rehearsals on my play, on Broadway. It was a really fast turn-around. I literally had to fly in, dye my hair, and then fly back, dye my hair back to black, and start on rehearsals, the day after. It all happened very fast for me. I know that there was rumors, before that, going around, that they wanted me to come on to Arrow, but I hadn’t heard anything. It was all very fast, but it was all very nice, at the same time, to put the trench coat back on.
When did it go from an appearance on Arrow to then doing an arc on Legends of Tomorrow, and then signing on as a series regular for Season 4?
RYAN: At each corner of this journey, I thought that this was over. After my appearance on Arrow, I thought, “Okay, well, that’s interesting. Let’s just do this episode, and then carry on with the play.” And then, they asked me to do the Justice League Dark animation, to voice that, so that was another surprise. And then, after that, I thought it was dead. And then, they asked me to do the Constantine animated series, and that was a surprise. After that, I thought it was dead. And then, there was the Legends of Tomorrow. It keeps on coming back, in the most wonderful way.