In 2005, Warner Bros. Pictures partnership with DC comics led to the release of Constantine, a movie that focuses on a lesser-known character in the comic giant's vault. Created by Alan Moore for his first appearance in a 1985 Swamp Thing issue, John Constantine is a supernatural detective who exorcises demons and walks between the world of people and that of angels and demons. Constantine is British, blonde, and built like musician Sting, but casting Keanu Reeves as a dark-haired American version of the character didn't matter at the box office since the film grossed over $200 million on a budget half as large.
Critics disliked the film, however, and considered it a failure. Thanks to home video releases and fans, the movie has become a cult classic that still enjoys notoriety and a healthy fandom to this day. Most may be surprised to learn that no one in front of or behind the camera had knowledge of the character of Constantine prior to signing onto the movie, or that star Reeves met with a real exorcist to get a handle on his role. While no suspicious or supernatural events plagued production, the filming has its share of surprising stories from those involved.
Keanu Reeves Met With An Exorcist To Prepare For The Role
In the film, Constantine believes that exorcising demons from victims will earn him a Get Out Of Hell Free card from Satan himself. While most actors might watch the quintessential exorcism movie The Exorcist, Reeves met with an actual exorcist for some tips. One of Constantine's tricks which he learns from an unnamed demon slayer is the appropriate way to hold someone with a demon trapped inside of them.
Reeves is no stranger to in-depth preparation for his many movie roles; for example, he participated in months of training and exercise to gain the proper physique for the John Wick trilogy. He also learned to surf for Point Break.
Director Francis Lawrence Was Hoisted Up On Cables To Film An Action Scene From Above
Most directors might use a crane to film an action shot from above, but Lawrence insisted on being lifted by a harness and cables to capture a particular scene for the film. He reasoned that the scope of the fight between Constantine and a bunch of demons required an eagle-eyed perspective.
The finished scene became a water-filled ballet of screaming demons and a determined Constantine sending them back to Hell. Lawrence carried his attention to detail into his future projects, including the final three films in The Hunger Games franchise.
One Scene With Rachel Weisz Involved Reeves Actually Holding Her Under Water
In one scene, Constantine holds Angela Dodson (Rachel Weisz) under the water in a bathtub to make her see hell. In interviews, Weisz admitted filming the scene was frightening for her since Reeves actually held her underwater. Holding her throat to immerse her in the tub, Reeves relied on taps from Weisz to alert him when she needed air. The scene required a lot of thrashing, however, and the cast and crew were nervous about her safety.
Weisz wasn't the only one performing her own stunts, as Reeves, Shia LaBeouf, and Gavin Rossdale did much of their own work as well. Reeves, an old pro in stunt work, flew through the air after being punched by a demon in one scene. Rossdale, playing the demon Balthazar, filmed his own fight scene in full makeup and a suit. LeBeouf performed a stunt where the crew slingshot him into a foam wall, bruising his face.
Reeves Didn’t Feel He Truly Understood His Character Until He Found The Right Coat
Reeves admitted in several interviews that he was not familiar with John Constantine until the 2005 film. While preparing for the role, he read some of the comic books to get a handle on the essence of the character. It wasn't until costuming, however, that Reeves really felt connected to Constantine, especially when it came to picking out the right coat.
After getting to know the character, Reeves walked into his fitting and worked his way through racks of clothing to create Constantine's look. He tried hats, pants, shoes, and other ordinary items, but the coat is what really clarified his role. He used the coat to find the demon hunter's movement while on set the first day.