It’s been seven long years since Matt Ryan first stepped into the spell casting trench coat of John Constantine for NBC, and in that time he’s played the sorcerer on TV and in several animated movies – but as of Legends of Tomorrow’s recent season final,e his magical run as DC’s resident warlock has come to an end.
On September 6th, the show took a page out of Superman III and made John duel with himself before eventually drinking some poison, putting an end to Ryan’s several-season-long tenure as the fast-talking magician.
Calling his exit “cathartic”, the actor recently told Entertainment Weekly that his exit was based on simply on his own feeling that it was time to step away from the role.
“John is someone who always moves along, he walks his own path, and all of that stuff,” he said. “And there was, inevitably, only so much time he could spend on Legends. I think they did a really good job of fitting someone like John into Legends and what he could bring to it.”
He continued, “I love playing the character, as I think everybody knows, but in terms of what we’ve explored with him on Legends, I think we got as far as we can go aside from John going off on his own journeys again.”
Ryan would add that the character’s exit “materialized” in a way that “jut felt right and organic”, asserting, “It didn’t feel like, ‘Oh bummer, man, they pulled it away from me’ or anything like that.”
Speaking to the original show’s cancellation, Ryan explained, “When the original show was canceled, I was gutted. I was like, ‘I haven’t even gotten started.'”
Fortunately, the silver lining eventually shone through, and Ryan was able to return to play the role of Constantine for a longer period than he expected.
“Even though I didn’t get to do [the NBC show for a long time], which was the dream back then, having been on Legends and having explored John in ways I never thought I would explore him has been immensely [gratifying],” he reflected.
The actor also asserted that what he was going to miss most about playing Constatine was the character’s “cockiness and his arrogance in the face of danger,” especially in light of recent events.
“When this pandemic first happened, I was having a conversation with a fan I was doing a one-on-one video call with or something and I said, ‘I feel like I need a little bit of John now,’ do you know what I mean?” he recalled. “Because John can f—ing get through anything. There was a little bit of me summoning him during this pandemic and going like, John can just blaze through this whereas I was flapping.”
While some undoubtedly understand what Ryan ‘means’, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and the actor also had to address the fact that rushing headlong into certain doom doesn’t always work out for John. “The brashness, the confidence, and the courage of his convictions, even though it goes terribly wrong most of the time,” he said.
Clarifying that those are “Basically all of the things I love about the character I’m going to miss playing,” Ryan further noted that, as a fan himself, he wants to see what they do with John next.
“That’s the thing, it’s like, ‘What are they going to do with him? Where is he going to go?’” he pondered. “That’s a cool thing to feel when you leave a character.”
Constantine’s next stop – or at least his bloodline’s – is on Netflix’s Sandman, where Jenna Coleman will portray Johanna Constantine, an ancestor of the well-known wizard.
As for John himself, according to a casting rumor from a while back, the foul-mouthed Brit may reappear in J.J. Abrams’ Justice League Dark universe on HBO Max, where he will reportedly be recast as a “Riz Ahmed type”
As for Ryan, though his time is up as Constantine, he won’t be leaving Legends of Tomorrow. In the next season, he starts playing a new character in scientist Dr. Gwyn Davies.
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