‘Constantine’: Producers Talk Casting Zed, Bisexuality and Smoking

Angelica Celaya

Latina actress Angélica Celaya has been cast in “Constantine” as comic book character Zed, the NBC show’s executive producers confirmed at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour Sunday.

Celaya’s Zed will replace Liv (Lucy Griffiths) as the female lead of the show following the pilot.

In the comics, Mary “Zed” Martin is an artist who becomes John Constantine’s lover and joins his fight against the forces of darkness.

“Constantine” hails from David S. Goyer, Neil Marshall and Daniel Cerone. Matt Ryan stars as the titular hero, Harold Perrineau Jr. and Charles Halford co-star.

On Griffiths’ exit, Cerone said, “Pilots are great because they’re a bit of a litmus test, we get to figure out what works and what doesn’t … Liv is a great character, she’s wide-eyed, she’s reactive, [but] we felt a bit hamstrung by her, frankly.” Liv was a character invented specifically for the show, whereas Zed has a history with Constantine in the comics canon.

In terms of how closely the show will hew to the Hellblazer comics on which it is based, the producers promised to be loyal to the source material, particularly in regards to the character’s smoking habit.

“He is a smoker in the show, we’re not shying away from it, but we’re not glorifying it,” Goyer said, after it was pointed out that the character is only seen stubbing out a cigarette in the pilot.

“[NBC] are beholden to broadcast standards too,” Cerone noted. “We know the universe that we’re existing within — we heard plenty of pitches like ‘let’s give him a patch or have him chew a lot of gum,'” but the producers decided that seeing him stubbing out a cigarette was more authentic to the character.

One aspect of John Constantine’s character that seemingly won’t be explored is his bisexuality, which has been mentioned in a number of comics since Hellblazer debuted, most notably in Brian Azzarello’s 2002 run, “Ashes & Dust in the City of Angels.”

“There are no immediate plans” to explore Constantine’s bisexuality, Goyer told critics at TCA, since that was just one interpretation of the character from Constantine’s 30-year history.

Comics fans can expect plenty of DC easter eggs in the pilot and sprinkled throughout the series (including the possible introduction of other DC Comics characters), something Warner Bros. has demonstrated to great effect through “Arrow” on The CW.

Goyer admitted that he considers Constantine to be “one of the best characters in modern literature,” and that he was Goyer’s first choice when offered a DC Comics property to adapt. “The thing I loved about Constantine was that he was a smartass in a world of superheroes and demons… a working class bloke with a wicked sense of humor,” Goyer said.

Celaya is represented by Innovative and DePaz Management‎.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Zed’s name as Zedd.

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  1. How typical says:

    Why David Goyer, why? Why do you always have to turn canonically queer characters straight? The only time “sexuality doesn’t matter” in a show is when the character is either bi or gay. How exactly does him being straight help the story more? This is complete BS. What’s sad about this is that i’m not even surprised at this point, just hurt and pissed. Maybe you should change the name to the No Homo-Zone, just so the message is extra clear. Ya know, so fans of the comics don’t get any weird ideas.
    Ugh, If this was picked up by HBO or Showtime, things would be different. Oh well, opportunity missed. Rant over.

    • mortalkondek says:

      Because he is not canonically queer. Read the comic and get a clue.

      • mortalkondek says:

        Yes, Liam, you are correct. Issue #51, the only issue to be penned by John Smith, who hasn’t written for Hellblazer before or since. I guess we can call that canon.

        A better example would be Brian Azzarello’s “Ashes and Dust” storyline, which explicitly shows John Constantine having sex with a man (the same writer depicts John, albeit not explicitly, having sex with a dog. I guess that is canon too). And while I have no doubt that our John did indeed like having sex with S.W. Manor, the end game was to get close enough to kill him. Which he does.

        The bigger point here is that there are far more defining aspects to the character than just his sexuality or whether or not he smokes: The liar, the con man, the cheater, the kiss of death, the let down, the manipulator.

      • Liam Thomas says:

        “He is not canonically queer.”
        In the comics, the character thinks to himself “Girlfriends, the odd boyfriend… they all have a nasty habit of walking out on me.”
        Last time I checked, straight men don’t have boyfriends, therefore he is canonically not straight, which makes him queer.

    • Emma says:

      I love how writers only ever say a character’s sexuality isn’t important to the character if that character is queer. You never see a writer, creator, director or producer go “well, so-and-so’s heterosexuality isn’t really important to their character, so we’ve decided to make them gay/bi/pan/ace.”

      I’ve never read the comic (or seen the movie), but I’m looking forward to the show, and c’mon, is it that hard to even have a character *say* their bisexual? You can still have him dating chicks, and then if you ever want him to have a male love interest down the road, it won’t just come out of nowhere.

      My sisters and I are all queer (I’m asexual and they’re bisexual), and it’s really frustrating when the few canonically queer characters in fiction (or in real life) get turned straight in adaptations. And then stupid excuses like that. If you don’t want to have queer characters, just come right out and say it, don’t pussyfoot around with statements like “his bisexuality wasn’t really important to the character.”

  2. TONY says:

    “…plenty of DC easter eggs in the pilot and sprinkled throughout the series…”
    OH NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. loco73 says:

    If the fact that the main character is a chainsmoker is proving to be a controversy…wow, what about the rest!!!! That’s right…there won’t be any rest since on NBC you can’t show it!

  4. loco73 says:

    This show should never have been allowed to go to a mainstream network like NBC. The content limitations in terms of violence, sex, coarse language, will strangle the show and its potential development. NBC cannot handle a product such as “Constantine”, they are just reacting to the fact that “Game Of Thrones”, “The Walking Dead” and now Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” and potentially FX’s “The Strain” are proving theri quality and success.

    “Constantine” would have been better suited for STARZ or Netflix at this point…

    • Emma says:

      Too violent and dark for NBC? I’m guessing you’ve never watched Hannibal. Or did you miss the part when a guy cut off his face, fed it to dogs and then ate his nose (AND made a joke about it)?

  5. bsbarnes says:

    If the success of CONSTANTINE rises or falls on his depiction as a chain smoker, then turn out the lights, right now. Keanu Reeves burned through a pack in the (2005) movie, but smokes aren’t the essence of Constantine’s character; cynicism is. As long as he is portrayed as an anti-hero, the lack of smoke rings around his head won’t wreck CONSTANTINE on the small screen.

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