Constantine's Director Had To Convince Keanu Reeves He Was Right For The Film

With a long-awaited sequel officially on the way, "Constantine" has cemented itself as one of the most underrated superhero films in the past few decades. The 2005 film is a product of its time — a very, very loosely connected adaptation of the beloved source material — but the interpretation justifies its own existence through some stylistic filmmaking and heavy-hitting on-screen talent. 

Francis Lawrence, with only music videos under his belt, directed the superhero flick that starred Keanu Reeves in the titular role. Before he made waves with the multi-billion dollar franchise "Hunger Games," Lawrence was an unproven talent when it came to theatrical offerings. Although the transition from creating music videos to full-on blockbuster filmmaking is nothing new (Zack Snyder and his signature style is perhaps the best example of them all), it took some time to convince Reeves that Lawrence was the right director for the job. Lawrence did not take the opportunity of "Constantine" lightly, and his detailed, narrative-driven pitch ended up being exactly what Reeves was looking for.

It took some convincing

In an interview with IGN, Reeves revealed he was not initially on board with Lawrence before meeting the director. His primary concern was the director's background in music videos: 

"Yeah that came out in a kinda uneducated bias, in the sense that when it first came to me and the production was looking for a director ... I was ... wary."

But when Reeves got more familiar with Lawrence's work, his worries began to fade away:

"... I saw Francis's reel and I thought that he had kinda... he had a classicism, a kind of narrative impulse, the way he treated his characters ... and when I met him... He had basically walls of his concepts and I spent about two hours talking about his process and his ideas for the film and walked out of there... [I was] eager to work with him."

The resulting work is incomparable within the vast comics adaptation movie genre. A "Constantine" sequel may not be a sure-fire success, but the original is undeniably beloved by a cult audience. This is thanks to Lawrence's direction, and the unique qualities that separate "Constantine" from other projects.

A gnarly comic book adaptation

Although the film manages to retain the essence of the source material, Lawrence's theatrical debut with "Constantine" seeks to recontextualize everything we know about the comic book character. Yes, not only does Reeves famously not resemble his blond-haired, Liverpool-born counterpart, but the world-building is specific to Lawrence's vision as well. The vast nature of the comic book is traded for borrowed names and all-new stories, while still replicating the noir tone of Constantine's supernatural adventures.

In an interview conducted before the release of "Constantine," the director emphasized how he viewed the titular character and his world through a specific lens:

"I think first attracted me to this project was just the character himself — not the fact that he was English, not the fact that he had blonde hair and not the fact that he wore an olive-colored trench coat. It was sort of what made him who he was. And I think we've maintained that. 

I think it's the whole idea of an anti-hero — this guy that sort of understands the world ... that normal people don't know exists. I think that he's sort of a supernatural, hard-boiled detective. He reminds me of the Sam Spade's and characters from the classic film noirs."

It remains to be seen if the sequel will live up to long-running expectations, but getting the gang back together is a welcomed first step. It is hard to imagine a film so innately separated from the comic books to feel like a worthy adaptation, yet "Constantine" proves to be in a league of its own.