Keanu Reeves Put This In His Constantine Contract and Wouldn’t Budge
by Fred Topel
Constantine was definitely a Keanu Reeves movie. John Constantine became more of a Reeves character than his incarnation in the Hellblazer comic. But, Reeves brought more than just his on screen persona to the part. Director Francis Lawrence says Reeves is the driving force between the film’s aesthetic.
Reeves, Lawrence and producer Akiva Goldsman were part of a Constantine 15th anniversary reunion panel at San Diego Comic-Con@Home on July 25. Lawrence and Reeves told the story of how Reeves made sure Constantine did this.
Keanu Reeves insisted ‘Constantine’ shoot in Los Angeles
Lawrence began this story by saying the screenplay set Constantine in Los Angeles, California. That still doesn’t guarantee filmin in L.A. Only a star of Reeves’ caliber could demand Warner Brothers shoot the film in the location it is actually set.
“One of the great things that Keanu did very early on was we had set the story in Los Angeles,” Lawrence said. “It’s still not often that you actually get to shoot in Los Angeles. But, I think Keanu, if I’m right, you actually put it in your deal that we had to do it in L.A.”
Reeves nodded his head as Lawrence continued.
“You were not going to go to Toronto or Vancouver or Atlanta or one of these places to cheat it for L.A.,” Lawrence said. “So, that was great. That battle was done long before we got the green light which was fantastic.”
Why Keanu Reeves insisted on filming ‘Constantine’ in Los Angeles
John Constantine traverses Heaven and Hell on the streets of Los Angeles. He described why the authenticity of Los Angeles was so important to him.
“I love L.A. and I love filmic L.A.,” Reeves said. “I love being on the streets, I like the way the weather changes, I like the early dawn, the deep night, the color of the lights, people who are on the street. It’s got a good vibe. Philippe Rousselot is the cinematographer.”
Making ‘Constantine’ look like Los Angeles
Lawrence continued to discuss Rousselot and other behind the scenes artists. They achieved the authentically Los Angeles look Reeves wanted for Constantine.
“[Rousselot] did a fantastic job and Naomi Shohan, the production designer, as well,” Lawrence said. “Because we set the story in L.A. and we got to shoot it, thanks to Keanu, in L.A., I actually chose Naomi because she had done Training Day. I really loved all the location work and the set design and decoration that she did in Training Day.”
John Constantine explored an underbelly of L.A. even deeper than the one Denzel Washington policed in Training Day.
“I saw that this wasn’t about going to the L.A. landmarks like the Santa Monica Pier or the Hollywood sign,” Lawrence said. “It was getting into real L.A. like parts of Koreatown and Echo Park, and parts of downtown that people hadn’t shot in that much and things like that.”
Reeves gave one more shout out to the screenwriter who adapted Constantine.
“Shout out to Frank Cappello as well who was in the roots of the tree,” Reeves said.