Just please, not Keanu1 of 12John Constantine, TV star. That's what NBC and DC Comics are hoping for, as they've put a new Constantine show in development from writer/producers David S. Goyer (You know him from DC movies, his own TV shows, and a comic history dating all the way back to Blade) and Daniel Cerone (you know his writing from the Mentalist, Dexter, and Charmed. The pedigree of those in charge is solid, but one big part of the equation is of course now on everyone's minds: who will star as the titular character?
We know one thing from fan reactions back in 2005: he damn well better be British. Preferably blonde, but that's not as important as the first. He needs to be cool, calm, and the kind of person you like completely in spite of yourself - because really, he's not a nice guy. Brash and overly confident come into play at times, and he has to be just as willing to throw someone under the bus to save himself as he is to protect someone out of some confused nobility.
And he needs to be strong. You have to believe you can put just about anyone in a scene with this guy, from devils and demons to the superest of heroes, and he can dominate the screen all along.
With all of this in mind, and no known script or guidelines of things like age and experience, here are ten candidates we think could fit the trench coat of John Constantine, from far-fetched wishes to those that we think may really have a chance.
Vaneta Rogers also contributed to this article.
Benedict Cumberbatch2 of 12For American fans, it might seem like English actor Benedict Cumberbatch came out of nowhere when he played the villain in the summer blockbuster Star Trek Into Darkness. And his sudden geek-cred stardom will be sealed when fans see Cumberbatch playing Smaug the dragon (via motion-capture) in the upcoming Hobbit films.
But the actor had already won acclaim in Britain as the title character in BBC's Sherlock — winning himself a rabid fan base that's anticipating his return to TV in the third season next year.
Cumberbatch's experience as as the modernized Sherlock — a detached, quirky, annoying detective — would serve him well as John Constantine. And although the Sherlock and Constantine roles are (admittedly) quite different, Cumberbatch has given his Sherlock so much snark and cynicism that it doesn't take much of a stretch to see him nailing the role of John Constantine.
Hugh Laurie3 of 12Come on. Is there any British actor that can play deadpan detective better than Hugh Laurie? Think about it: His role as a the cynical-yet-cunning doctor on House practically was John Constantine — just with an American accent and a lab coat, investigating germs instead of ghosts.
The one thing holding back Laurie from nabbing the role might be his age — the other actors on our list are younger — but if NBC is going for an experienced John Constantine, Laurie's a shoe-in.
Plus the younger, "rising-star" folks elsewhere on this list are less likely to commit to a weekly television show at this point in their career — the Emmy-nominated Hugh Laurie has already proven that weekly television is where he shines.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers4 of 12Jonathan Rhys Meyers hits the main criteria: British and a decent "name" while still also being TV-ready. Sure, he's done some films, but TV is his natural habitat and while he's recognizable, he's also not so much so that he couldn't make this character his own. In fact, NBC even already likes Meyers - unfortunately, they like him so much that they already made him the lead of a show debuting this season.
Meyers is the lead in the new series Dracula, which seems to prove our point even more. In the show he's cast for his charm, the British factor likely doesn't help as classic accents are appreciated in such roles, and cast by NBC in a supernatural-themed drama. But hey, if Dracula doesn't work out, maybe they'll want to keep him around. And if it does work out, it might be the perfect pairing for Constantine in a supernatural double-feature night.
Joseph Fiennes5 of 12While he may not carry quite the star power of his brother, Joseph Fiennes has a lot of past that would carry well in a role like John Constantine. He's got the rakish charm (and female following) from Shakespeare in Love, a history with magic as Merlin in the Camelot 10 episode series (where he was also at times stone-cold scary, and an even more recent turn on a supernatural drama with American Horror Story. He has a film career that has stayed steady but never blown up, despite his massive success about a decade and a half ago, and he has no current TV gig despite clearly enjoying the episodic format enough to give it three tries in the last 4 years. In fact, while he may not be our preferred choice making it high up the list, Fiennes very well may be the most likely candidate here.
Tom Hiddleston6 of 12Genre audiences have already enthusiastically embraced actor Tom Hiddleston as Loki in the Thor and Avengers movies — so much so that there's an online petition asking Marvel to give the supervillain his own film.
Yet Hiddleston's acclaimed success in other roles — from his American F. Scott Fitzgerald in Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris to his multiple Shakespearean gigs (including the current The Hollow Crown on PBS) — prove that he's got the acting chops to play more than just an Asgardian with daddy issues.
Plus (despite the dark locks on his Loki costume), the actor is already blond, he's very English, and he already rocked a trenchcoat in an adaptation of Shakespeare's Cymbeline. (Really… Google it.)
Although Hiddleston probably wouldn't accept a TV role right now (with his film cred on the rise) — and it might be in bad taste to work on a DC-associated role when he's still locked into his five-picture deal with Marvel — it would be great to see him give it a try. (And the ratings boost from Loki's Tumblr fangirls might come in handy.)
Idris Elba7 of 12Yes, this may seem a bit out of left field - after all, people flipped out by an American with dark hair playing Constantine in the movie a few years back, so changing the race of the character may ruffle some feathers. However, the fact remains that Idris Elba is a dominant British actor with procedural and genre experience, the necessary charm, the right age range, and looks good in a trench coat (thanks, Luther). When it comes down to it, the British is much more important to the character of Constantine than the race - he wasn't created with a rich anglo-saxon background, he was just drawn that way to look like Sting. Ultimately, we think Elba has established himself with the chops and the clout to make this surprise casting work.
David Tennant8 of 12David Tennant is known to fans the world over as the tenth Doctor on Doctor Who, and is still many people's favorite. His turn to the serious since then (not to mention in a few episodes of that series) tease a darkness that he's just waiting to fully unleash, and Constantine could be the perfect character for him to do that with.
It wouldn't be a stretch for him to play an iconic Brit, of course, and his charm and built-in audience would make him a coup for DC. Plus, cosplayers could easily switch between two Tennant characters with trench coats at conventions, going for a fun theme. The only real worry here would be whether or not they could get Tennant to sign on indefinitely, keeping him around for an extended set of years while he is also trying to explore other roles and opportunities.
Rupert Penry-Jones9 of 12The star of Spooks (MI-5 in the States) and Whitechapel, Rupert Penry-Jones certainly most looks the part of anyone on this list so far. A blonde Brit with a scowl so permanent it doesn't even completely go away when he is smiling, there are images from Spooks that could just as easily be screenshots of Constantine. He has proven himself a leading man on Television for the last ten years or so across three series, and the oft-reckless nature of Adam Carter paired with the cool reasoning of DI Chandler makes it easy to imagine how Penry-Jones would handle the magic man with little to no conscience John Constantine. He'll step back and calmly evaluate a situation, then rush head-long into it anyway. Penry-Jones comes with just enough recognition from American audiences, British backing for their audiences, but a relative newness that would let him fit here, as well.
James Marsters10 of 12While it's easy to think he hasn't aged since his Buffy days (Seriously, he might actually be a vampire), the fact remains that Marsters is the second oldest person on this list; Hugh Laurie has only a couple of years on him. Despite that, it's hard not to think of this in very simple terms: take his character Spike, remove the vampirism, add some more magic, give him cigarettes, and you're done. It's John Constantine. He cares more than he ever wants to let on (or wants to), he'll fiercely protect those that are close to him, as long as it doesn't conflict with what he wants, and he has a nobility hiding under an exterior that says "f*** off" more often than not.
Marsters is a genre veteran with at least 15 sci-fi and fantasy roles outside of Spike. He has a huge built-in audience and a history with a similar character. At 51 years old, Marsters just plain may be older than they want to go for this role, especially after recently rebooting the character into comics with the express purpose of making him younger. But damn if he doesn't fit the look and attitude of the part right off.
Stephen Moyer11 of 12What do you do when you're coming off a hit supernatural series playing a dark and brooding but overwhelmingly powerful person who finds himself in the center of all sorts of conflicts? Well just hop on over to another, of course!
Stephen Moyer's run on True Blood is coming to a close, and we'll bet he's ready to leave that Southern drawl behind, going back to his native accent. He's every bit a leading man, a respected actor, and does the dark aloofness necessary for Constantine well. In fact, he already has a relationship with NBC (he's starring as Captain Von Trapp in their live TV production of Sound of Music and worked for them about a decade ago in a mini-series). Respected by audiences and critics, a fan of genre who's not afraid to get messy for a role, Moyer could be John Constantine. Now, we know we said it doesn't matter that much earlier, but how would he look blonde?
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