It’s hard to believe, but it’s been fifteen years since Warner Bros. released director Francis Lawrence’s DC Comics adaptation, Constantine, starring Keanu Reeves as an occult detective. When the film first came out in February, 2005, the reviews were mixed. At the time, Reeves had only finished The Matrix trilogy two years earlier, the MCU hadn’t yet launched, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins was months from being released, and the comic book movie genre wasn’t something Hollywood took very seriously.
It was a different era of moviemaking.
Over time, Constantine’s popularity grew. Francis Lawrence had told me when he signed autographs it was often Constantine related. When I talked about the film with friends or online, most people had kind words. It was one of those films whose popularity and acclaim has only grown over time.
With Comic-Con doing an at home edition due to the worldwide pandemic, I thought it would be cool to get the people involved in the making of Constantine together for a 15th anniversary reunion. Thankfully, Keanu Reeves, director Francis Lawrence and producer Akiva Goldsman all said yes!
As you can watch below Reeves, Lawrence, and Goldsman share some great behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the film, how the project happened, the reason they got an R-rating even though they shot a PG-13 movie, how Reeves was key to shooting the film in Los Angeles, how they ended up with a post-credits scene before the MCU, Michelle Monaghan’s original role in the film and why was it cut, why noir movies like Blade Runner and Maltese Falcon were more of an influence than contemporary superhero movies, and so much more.
If you’re a fan of Constantine I promise you’ll learn a lot watching this conversation.
Finally, a huge thank you to Keanu Reeves, Francis Lawrence and Akiva Goldsman for doing this panel with us.
Here’s the panel followed by a time index of everything we talked about.
Keanu Reeves, Francis Lawrence and Akiva Goldsman:
- :40 – When was the last time they all saw each other?
- 1:05 – How did Goldsman end up producing the film?
- 2:30 – What was it about the character or the story that attracted Reeves?
- 5:25 – How did Francis convince the studio he was the right director for the job?
- 8:35 – Why noir movies like Blade Runner and Maltese Falcon were more of an influence than contemporary superhero movies.
- 9:00 – How involved was the studio, considering Constantine and Batman Begins were in production at the same time?
- 12:00 – Why Reeves’ deal said they had to film the movie in L.A.
- 14:20 – Keanu explains how he stays so humble in a typically humble way.
- 17:20 – Was there a discussion about including more DC or Vertigo characters in the film?
- 18:30 – Francis and Akiva explain the battle they had with the MPAA about the R-rating
20:50 – Were the cigarettes or the rain more of a pain in the ass?
- 25:00 – Francis explains why the pressure was to get the story and acting right more than nailing the style.
- 26:10 – How did they end up with a post-credits scene before the MCU? Was there any pressure to get rid of it?
- 31:10 – They discuss designing hell and the mythology behind the visuals.
- 36:35 – How did they keep the action and the scares surprising?
- 38:00 – They discuss the sequels they wanted to make and some of the ideas they had.
- 40:50 – What was Michelle Monaghan’s original role in the film and why was it cut?
- 43:00 – Keanu says they never discussed the blonde hair and British accent.
- 43:40 – What did they learn from test screenings that changed the finished film?