Keanu Reeves Talks About the Joys of Being Choked by Tilda Swinton at the Constantine 15th Reunion Panel!

Constantine is 15 years old! It has a learner’s permit! San Diego Comic-Con At Home hosted a delightful conversation between star Keanu Reeves, director Francis Lawrence (it was his first movie! Who does that???), producer Akiva Goldsman, and Collider’s EIC Steven Weintraub. You can watch the video or click through for some highlights!

On the origin of Constantine

Asked about the origin of the film, Akiva Goldsman told Weintraub that, “We put it together with Nic Cage and Tarsem directing, we started prepping the movie, and then we stopped prepping the movie. The movie…went to sleep for a while.”


Keanu Reeves on how he came to the character:

Keanu Reeves: I was…not hesitant, but you know, I’m not English and I’m not blonde….but he’s such a beautiful character, kind of a humanitarian cynic. Tired, world-weary, tired of all the rules and morals and ethics and angels and demons, but still a part of it. And I loved his sense of humor.


On the influences for the film:

Francis Lawrence: I definitely wasn’t looking at comic book movies as references. In all honesty, I was looking at noir film. [WE KNOW.] I would look at something like Blade Runner over any comic book movie, or The Third Man or Maltese Falcon, things like that.


On Los Angeles as a character:

Francis to Keanu: It’s not often that you get to shoot in Los Angeles, but Keanu, if I remember correctly you put it in your deal that it had to be L.A., you weren’t going to go to Toronto or Vancouver or Atlanta to cheat it for L.A.

KR [yells]: No! I love L.A., and I love filmic L.A. I like to be in the streets, I like the way the weather changes, early dawn, deep night, the color of the light, and the people.

[They stop to shout out Philippe Rousselot, cinematographer and Naomi Shohan, the production designer]

FL: With Naomi it wasn’t like going to the “landmarks” like the Santa Monica pier or the Hollywood sign, it was like getting into real L.A., parts of Koreatown and Echo Park, and parts of Downtown that people haven’t shot in as much. She was great with all that.


On Constantine unexpectedly getting an R-Rating for “tone ”and “an overwhelming sense of dread”:

Francis [laughing]: If I’d known we were going to get an R I would have really gone for it!

There’s a weird subset of religious horror that always seems to get an R. What you learn is that despite the fact that there are guidelines it’s a purely subjective interpretation…but we have a lot of demons. Demons seem fo some reason to trigger and R-Rating. I have now given every prospective filmmaker the key to getting an R-Rating: just have demons. You’re welcome.


On smoking in the rain:

FL: There were a couple takes where Keanu turned green.

KR: Oh yeah, that scene with the spider in the glass?

FL: But we got the shot!


On the joy of the cast: 

Throwing down with Peter Stormare while I’m bleeding out! And he’s leaning into me and lighting my cigarette. Throwing down with Tilda Swinton as she’s choking me [executes a perfect Tilda Swinton head-tilt] “John? John?” with her FOOT ON MY THROAT. Working with Shia Labeouf, working with Djimon Hounsou…the dialogue s so juicy and the scenes are so…you know, that hard-boiled thing…there were so many times of getting to work with so many extraordinary artists, and we were all just having fun.


On creating Hell:

FL: I wanted to give Hell a geography…there’s this idea that wherever you are, there’s a Hell version of where you are, and a Heaven version of where you are….we set [Angela’s] apartment next to the 101 Freeway, so John’s going to climb out onto the freeway to get to this hospital, where all the sort of husks of cars are. It just sort of gave it all a sense of geography, and grounded it a little bit? Instead of it just being this blank void.

AG: There’s Hell L.A., Hell Des Moines, Hell Brooklyn, Hell your mother-in-law’s house—they all exist, and there’s a whole planet of Hell!

KR: I also liked that the demons had their brains gone, like the seat of the soul had been scooped out like an urchin? Like eating an urchin? Fun!


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