Constantine Special Report: Director Francis Lawrence

Tue, February 8th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

TV/Film
Hannibal Tabu, Columnist

Despite the insistent sunlight, it was a chilly morning as Warner Brothers pictures took over at least two floors of the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills to host the freaks and geeks of the media, covering "Hellblazer," the big screen Vertigo adaptation. This afforded the Comic Reel a chance to sit in on roundtables with many of the cast and makers of the film. The following is part two of the summary of that wild day of pork-laden craft services and overpowering air conditioning.

FRANCIS LAWRENCE

Director Francis Lawrence denied having any confusion about how to show heaven, claiming that the need never arose, saying "white wings are kind of cheesy," and that a seraphic perspective "wasn't really written into the story," Lawrence protested, passing that cup from before himself. The former video director did touch on how they conceived of a "hell version and a heaven version" of every place, which made the transitional scenes easy to conceive.

He moved on quickly, talking about the process of converting the Warner Brothers brass to a serious take on the property. "They never really understood the tone of this movie," Lawrence said. "They thought this movie should be like 'Ghostbusters' or 'Men in Black.' But to their credit, we put together this 25 minute package of clips and they got really excited about it."

Lawrence didn't blink at this being his first feature film, and taking on large philosophical points, "blurring the lines between good and evil," as he said. "It's fitting for these times where we're being told what is evil, where it might not really be evil. It's not just black and white." In the end, the studio didn't really fight him on much, even what he felt was the most unusual casting choice he wanted, Tilda Swinson as the aforementioned Archangel Gabriel.

Lawrence also addressed a deleted scene which implied that Constantine had sex with a demon half-breed (played by an attractive actress who popped up numerous times in the film), which Keanu Reeves mentioned numerous times, including at last year's San Diego Comic-Con. "If you're the kind of guy who can go sleep with a really hot girl, demon or not," Lawrence joked, "you're not that lonely." The scene was cut in order to make the title character seem more isolated.

Another change that was originally based on budget ended up to be a better creative choice, Lawrence implied. The script originally called for a huge car chase when the detective is kidnapped, but Lawrence said, "They have these kinds of analyses, that show how much each scene will cost. The car chase would have cost too much, so we came up with something different. We filmed Rachel on a slate, and then CGIed the office in after."

Lawrence admitted he's not obligated contractually for a sequel, but he'd love to work on it, and has had extremely early conversations with Brodbin and Cappello ... but he wasn't willing to divulge any of those details.

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