Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q: Were you aware of the Hellblazer comics?
A: No I was not aware of the comic books until I read
the script. Then I researched them to put my pitch together for
Q: And are they as dark as the movie?
A: I think they are probably a little darker. But they
are of the same attitude and tone as the film.
Q: The comics are set in London?
A: Actually they are set all over the place. The character
in the comic is British and was made American for the film. There
are stories in the comics when he travels all over the American
Midwest and he is in New York and Africa. He’s all over
the place. And he smokes and drinks a lot.
Q: Did you have to fight to keep the dark tone?
A: I don’t think the studio really understood the
movie we were making at first. Unbelievably, we never had to fight
to keep the smoking or the drinking. It was the attitude of the
movie that I don’t think they really understood.
They originally thought it was lighter, something like Ghostbusters
or Men in Black. But that was never the way we saw it. Once we
showed them some footage they got excited.
Q: How was the film developed?
A: This project existed for six or seven years before
I came on board. It went through a bunch of different versions.
But the idea of John Constantine dying of lung cancer, knowing
that he’s going to Hell and trying to prevent that happening,
was taken a long time ago from one of the comic books. Other than
that nothing else was taken from the comics, everything else was
created to help that story.
Q: What about the idea that here on Earth we see Heaven
A: I wanted to give the film a twist while rooting it
in reality. So I came up with the idea that no matter where you
are on Earth, there is the Hell version and the Heaven version.
That somehow made it more tangible.
Q: Was Keanu the first choice?
A: Keanu was actually on it before I was. I think he
is fantastic in this, partly because I think he shares some qualities
with John Constantine. He is not as dark as Constantine but there
is a darkness to him. He’s kind of haunted at times and
he is a little mysterious and brooding. He smokes a lot. But he
is not as sarcastic and cynical. I also think he has some feelings
about the way that the universe works that tie in with Constantine.
Q: Do you think that’s because he has had tragedy
in his life?
A: I don’t why that is. I just know the way he
carries himself and the way he is. Being around him for a year
and half I see that there is some sadness there - even though
he is a really genuine, generous, nice person. He just carries
a weight with him that I think is similar.
Q: Did Tilda Swinton’s performance in Orlando
lead you towards making Gabriel neither male nor female?
A: Partially. I have been a huge fan of her work. That
was one of those choices in twisting what an angel is. I also
know she has such a unique take on things and so she brought originality
to the character that we might not have had if someone else had
Q: What might the Church
think of this film?
A: It has been interesting. In general, the religious
community has embraced the film. Every once in a while there is
something in it that offends somebody - whether it is the way
Gabriel is portrayed or whatever.
In the film Gabriel says ‘fuck’ and for an angel to
say that freaks them out. But others really embrace it because
they see that the movie is about redemption and about people questioning
and struggling with their faith. They really accept that. I was
not aware of that until the religious community started to see
the film. I thought they would have been much more offended than
Q: Had you toned anything down?
A: No I wanted to make the movie as it was and how I
saw it. We did not want to tone it down to prevent anything. It
was an honest surprise on my part that they have embraced it the
way they have.
Q: Was there a weight in knowing the expectation of
the comic book fans?
A: Oh sure. Because I am not a huge comic book fan I
did not realise at first the weight that they carry. Then I went
on web sites to see what they thought. But I just wanted to make
the best movie that I could.
There are some superficial changes that we made and those are
going to annoy the rabid Hellblazer fans. But in general the comic
book fans have embraced it.
Q: What is your idea of Heaven and Hell?
A: I’m sort of a sceptic. I hope there is something
but I don’t know. Hell on Earth would be anything horrible
happening to my family. That would tear me apart.
Q: What about Satan?
A: In the original script he was played the way you might
imagine Satan to be. We developed his character over time.
It was the last character to be cast when we were well into production.
We were struggling to figure out how we would portray him. We
decided that we had seen Satan as a woman, a child, a beast, the
well dressed man.
We hadn’t seen Satan as so insouciant that he never gets
angry; he has a sense of human and looks as though he wants to
have sex with everyone. He could ravage anyone at any time. Yet
he could be the guy who passes you on the street and you don’t
think twice about him.
When we cast Peter Stormare I started to think about Fagin in
Oliver Twist. He actually ad-libbed some of his lines.
Q: Why did you cast Gavin Rossdale?
A: I come from the music video world and I was a fan
of his band Bush. He came in and auditioned and he was great.
He captured what I wanted.
Q: What’s your take on Keanu?
A: I was surprised at first at how hard he works. For
our first meeting he arrived alone on his motor bike and we talked
for hours. He was so devoted to the movie, his character and the
story. He has a great work ethic. He wants to work and he is a
When he is on set the work is all he is thinking about. There
is no goofing around. He gives 150 per cent.
Q: What are the chances of a sequel?
A: It would be great if we could make a sequel; there
are a million stories to tell.