Ask any fan of the Hellblazer comic series to describe the central badass John Constantine, and one of the first things out of that person's mouth will be, “He’s got a lit cigarette.” But as you can imagine, such an unhealthy habit won't be making it to NBC when Constantine begins airing on Friday nights this fall. These characters might be able to breathe easier, but I’m betting some fans will be grumbling about it.
Collider recently caught up with the pilot’s director Neil Marshall (The Descent), who confirmed that the trench coat-wearing demon basher's hands will be forever cigarette-free. At least during the parts of his life that are seen by network TV audiences. Marshall explained it away as “a compromise, I guess,” stating that even though it’s one of his most recognizable character traits, it’s a no go on the network. Marshall goes on to say that they’re attempting to work around it, and “trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible.”
What does that even mean? That he’s going to carry around a small dry ice machine that makes everything look foggy and hazy? He'll wear Camel t-shirts? Marshall later calls the smoking ban frustrating after talking about how they want to make the show as dark and scary as possible. I rather like the idea of Marshall making things dark and scary, but does smoking really do that?
AHHHH!! Okay, so maybe it does.
Even though series like Mad Men and Sons of Anarchy often features characters smoking (among other things), they of course have the privilege of being aired on cable, where the content noose isn’t tied nearly as tightly. Network shows have largely done away with cigarette use, unless it serves some specific purpose to the plot; and nine times out of ten, it’s because somebody has lung cancer and they just can’t give ‘em up!
Speaking of cancer, Marshall claims to have no idea whether Matt Ryan’s John Constantine will carry on his comic counterpart’s terminal lung cancer. He says that it isn’t mentioned in the pilot, and that he has no idea of where the story is going after the pilot. The character is pretty used to death, dealing with occult demons and things, but NBC will probably avoid this health complication to make things easier from a storytelling perspective. (Even though cancer is the scariest thing of all.)
Also starring Jeremy Davies, Miles Anderson, Lucy Griffiths, Harold Perrineau and Charles Halford, Constantine will take on the forces of darkness smoke-free when it arrives on NBC on Friday, October 24.