Matt Ryan lifts comic off the page in 'Constantine'

Matt Ryan as John Constantine.

Matt Ryan as John Constantine.

Bill Harris, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:44 PM ET

Matt Ryan had a hellish way of describing his exorcist character in the new TV series Constantine.

“He's the kind of guy who would stick up his middle finger to the devil as he's making his way back to earth,” Ryan said.

Hmmm, do you really think that's wise from a soul-protection perspective, with the devil coming back and all that? He's bound to be pissed.

Well, maybe it wouldn't be a good idea for any of us normal people, but it's a viable plan for John Constantine. The series is coming to Global and NBC on Oct. 24, and Ryan was in Toronto on Wednesday as part of the annual Shaw Media upfront presentation.

Based on the comic-book series Hellblazer from DC Comics, seasoned demon hunter John Constantine specializes in giving hell to hell. He is armed with a knowledge of the dark arts and a wit and demeanour that is half Dr. House, half Gordon Ramsay.

“With all the characters I've watched, you do reference different characters from TV, a little dash of this and a little dash of that,” said Ryan, who is from Wales. “But it's all in the comics, and the thing for me was trying to lift the comic off the page.

“It's a fine balance to be able to get the humour and the darkness of it as well. Hopefully I've done that and we'll be able to continue to do it. But all this stuff is nothing to him now. He's a bit of a know-it-all, and yet he learned the hard way, by making mistakes that had consequences and people suffered. The outward wit and even the charm is kind of a defence mechanism.”

With his soul already damned, John aches to leave his demon-fighting behind. But when demons target Liv (Lucy Griffiths), the daughter of one of John’s oldest friends, he reluctantly is thrust back into the fray.

Before long, it’s revealed that Liv has “second sight,” which John does not have. With a mysterious new evil rising, John and Liv must work together.

“He needs her as much as she needs him,” Ryan said.

“He's not a typical hero. He's a working-class anti-hero. He doesn't have any special powers, which I think sets this show apart from the other (comic-book/superhero) shows.”

In other Shaw Media news, Big Brother Canada, which has been a massive hit for two seasons on Slice, is moving to Global for its third season.

“The show kind of outgrew the channel, and I'm not sure I've ever seen that before,” said Barb Williams, the senior VP of content at Shaw Media.

“There's a business decision here. Big Brother Canada is a very expensive show to make. And a specialty platform can only generate so much revenue. A bigger platform generates bigger revenue, even if the audience is relatively similar. We have an opportunity to monetize it quite differently on the bigger platform.”

More new shows acquired by Shaw Media for Global include NCIS: New Orleans, Stalker, Madam Secretary, Gracepoint, State of Affairs, Mulaney, Partners and Heroes Reborn.

Elsewhere on the specialty-channel side, the time-travelling drama Outlander will debut Aug. 24 on Showcase. Plus, two new Shaw channels are on the way: FYI (a rebrand of Twist) in the fall, and Crime Investigation (a rebrand of Mystery) in December.

Twitter: @billharris_tv

Bill.harris@sunmedia.ca


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