Japan Today (Jp), April 14, 2005

Reeves has devil of a time

TOKYO — You'd think that after making the three "Matrix" movies, Keanu Reeves would have had enough of fighting unearthly forces. Apparently not.

In "Constantine," the 40-year-old star (yes, he's 40) plays John Constantine, a globetrotting, chain-smoking supernatural detective. Having literally been to hell and back, he now must battle soldier demons and make deals with heavenly representatives to save his own over-mortgaged soul.

"I liked the character of the story. He's original," said Reeves, expanding beyond the monosyllabic answers he usually gives when he meets the press. "He knows a lot about the world, but not enough about himself. He is condemned to hell and is searching for a way out. It's a great film, a mixing of genres like horror, mystery and comedy. It turned out to be everything I hoped it would be when I started it."

Directed by first-timer Francis Lawrence, "Constantine" is based on the 1980s comic book "Hellblazer." The catchphrase is "Hell wants him. Heaven won't take him. Earth needs him," which means we get to see a lot of hell, courtesy of Lawrence's imagination and the best computer-generated imaging that money can buy. As for hell itself, Reeves said he doesn't have any personal vision of what it or heaven might be like.

"Constantine" reunites Reeves with Rachel Weisz, nine years after they made "Chain Reaction." The 34-year-old British actress is philosophical about the existence of heaven and hell. "I think of it as a state of mind that we create here on Earth," she said. "Looking at the finished version of the film, hell is certainly more visually interesting than anything I could ever imagine."

On working again with Reeves, Weisz expressed amazement at how down-to-earth he remained in view of his "Matrix" fame. "He was so unchanged by the stratospheric global success of the 'Matrix' series. I felt so comfortable with him."

There is already talk of a sequel to "Constantine," but Lawrence, a former music video director, said it is too early to consider it.

"We have to wait and see if people like this one," he said. "This was my first film and I felt a lot of pressure because, after all, the film has to succeed."

There were times during filming when the cast and crew thought supernatural forces were working against them and if they might not be better off calling the Ghostbusters. Apparently, paranormal activity was going on inside sound stage No. 16 at Warner Bros Hollywood lot. Over the years, similar stories have spread about spooky vibes when "The Exorcist" and "Poltergeist" were filmed.

Lawrence said that one room seemed to have a bad effect on everyone, causing some to get sick and others to get angry during the six-week shoot. Other than that, everyone had a devil of a good time.

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Constantine , Matrix, The , Chain Reaction

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