Ain't It Cool News (US), August 26, 2003
What does Warren Ellis think of this whole Keanu, Tilda Swinton, Rachel Weisz in CONSTANTINE thing!?!?
Hey folks, Harry here... I've remained fairly silent on this whole CONSTANTINE thing, mainly because I haven't read the script... Plus, I learned my lesson about thinking Keanu is inappropriate for a part ever since I read the script for the MATRIX, then hearing he'd been cast in the amazing part of NEO, then thinking the Wachowski's were on crack... only to find, years later, that Keanu was perfect for the part. Which well, made me humble when it comes to talking about Keanu for parts that I don't necessarily think he's right for. Personally, I would've killed to have Hugh Jackman play this character.... But hell... Warren Ellis spent the best years of Constantine's fictional life putting the thoughts and words into his head... what does he think? Read on...
Hi Harry... Along with thousands of others I receive a daily email/blog from comic book writer/all round genius, Warren Ellis. He was recently attending the Edinburgh Film Festival to talk on a panel with Harvey Pekar, the writer of the recently released American Splendour, a fictional / factual movie about his life as a comic book writer.
While he was there he had a chat with actress Tilda Swinton who had some insights into the upcoming movie adaptation of the Hellblazer comics...
"Anyway. And then I ended up drinking with Tilda Swinton. This was one of those weird moments; she kept saying "serendipitous," which is not a word I would attempt after mixing that much whisky and beer. She's just been offered the part of the angel Gabriel in CONSTANTINE, the film of the comics series HELLBLAZER, which I wrote for a year. So we had an hour of discussing the character, the book, the selection of Keanu Reeves (which is actually a big part of her interest. I've always said that Reeves is a better actor than anyone gives him credit for -- watch him carefully, and you'll see him deliberately creating a space for other actors to work in), and the possibilities in the role in relationship to America today. She said something I found fascinating: in an America where a president again invokes the term Evil in public statements, there's the potential to say something very interesting in a major-studio film about Biblical good and evil. To present the angel Gabriel as a figure of horror; there's space to say something that in the mainstream of American culture is certainly subversive.
She characterised Reeves as an intelligent, "spiritual" man, and thinks there might be the possibility, with Reeves there, to do something challenging. This, by the way, is the answer to the almost-daily emails asking what I think of Keanu Reeves cast as Constantine. First; the film is never going to be the same as the comic. American or English, the film will succeed if it's true to the core of the man, because that's what hooks people into the book. Nicolas Cage, I maintain, would have made a good Constantine because he can do the ravaged, shattered side of the man. I think Reeves is an interesting choice because he can get at the other part of Constantine, the part that demands social justice and exists in ethical turmoil. His partner for the story is being played by Rachel Weisz, whom people seem to have forgotten can act -- she broke out of British television in the same piece as Ewan McGregor, THE SCARLET AND THE BLACK. With Tilda Swinton as Gabriel, this is all far from a bad proposition. But, of course, I haven't read the script."
There we go ...hope this has proved interesting