On Friday, October 31, we spoke with Matt Ryan, who plays the titular character in the new NBC series Constantine, based on the popular occult DC Comics character.
USTH: Matt, can you just take us a little bit through the casting process? How did you come to learn about this part and how extensive was the audition process for you before you got it?
Matt Ryan: Oh wow, it was quite a ride to be honest with you. I was doing Henry V in London in the West End with Jude Law and the Michael Grandage Company. It was pilot season obviously, so there were a lot of auditions coming up.
So, Kate Dowd was casting [the series] in the UK, so I went in for an audition, did a tape, we sat at the table. I actually had really long hair and a big, bushy beard. And I can remember my agent calling me and saying, "Look, they really, really like you, but they can’t really see past the beard," you know?
And I was like, "Well, you know, I’m in the middle of a play. There’s not really much I can do about that."
What was my favorite - I’d been on a movie called Sunday Paper about four or five years ago or something, and I actually bleached blonde my hair for that so it was kind of a similar look.
I think I’d done about four or five tapes or something, you know, with different notes. And I already had a conversation with Daniel (Cerone) and David (Goyer) [developers of the series] as well, via Skype, to give me notes and stuff.
So, kept on doing all of these tapes, but still, I had this big beard. And then, I was going to try and get a night off the play to fly over to test. But unfortunately, due to some circumstances with a member of cast in the play, I wasn’t able to take a night off.
So, I had to let that test go really, in a way. And I think they used my tapes or something. But I think they couldn’t see past my beard. I think they went back to the drawing board and started looking again.
And then they came back about a week or so later and said, "Look, we still really like you and we want you to retape." So retaped again. I ended up doing about six audition tapes or something.
And I think one of the notes which was really funny was my agent said that David Goyer had mentioned that we really liked Sasquatch. And eventually the play ended.
I ended on a Saturday night when I would have the wrap party, so to speak, of the play and jumped on a plane first thing in the morning, flew over. I think it was a holiday in America on that day so all of the hair salons were shut.
So I had to have a friend of mine come over and cut my hair. And then the next day, I went in and tested, and then went to the studio testing process, and then the network testing process.
And then eventually got there, man. It was quite a ride to be honest with you. You know, it was quite a long process – it’s definitely the longest audition process I’d been through. And it was such a thrill then when I actually got the job, you know?
USTH: Given that you’re the star of this show and this is a big American TV production, are you feeling any sort of pressure? How are you acclimating yourself to being the focus of this new series and all of the attention on you? How are you handling all of that?
Matt Ryan: It’s a new experience, you know? It’s something that I’ve never encountered before. So, there’s been different turning points in Constantine that I’ve never come across.
And I feel like you just throw yourself into whatever work you’re doing and you concentrate on that.
And we work so many hours as well that there’s not the time to stop and think, "Oh my God, what is this I’m doing?" which is kind of a good thing because you have to be in the moment and just go with it and keep your work going, which is what I love doing. You know?
[That's] kind of [my] perspective on it, then. And I think that if we had a three month break right now I’d probably go, "What the hell just happened," do you know what I mean? But, at the moment I’m still kind of right in the mix of it.
Kind of working every day. And that’s kind of where I like to be as well. You know, with my head in the work and concentrating on that, you know? I think it’s been a hell of a ride and it’s been really, really good fun as well.
And, I’ve really enjoyed it man. And I’m just taking it all in my stride and trying to enjoy it.
USTH: I know Constantine is on a different network than some of the other DC comic book shows like The Flash or Arrow, but has there been any discussion that you know of regarding the possibility of characters from each of those shows crossing into your show or you crossing over into their shows?
Matt Ryan: Not that I’ve heard of. I mean, I don’t know what goes on in the DC office or what all those guys talk about. But, so far I don’t have any information on whether that’s going to happen or not.
Our thanks to Matt Ryan for speaking with us today. Contstantine airs Friday nights on NBC.