NBCUniversal's 2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 1 - ArrivalsIf you're not a big comic book fan or you dot happen to be familiar with the DC superhero and demon hunter John Constantine, please allow Matt Ryan to pique your interest.

The Welsh actor is about to step into the iconic role in NBC's new talked-about horror fantasy drama "Constantine," which is based on the Hellblazer comic books, and we're thoroughly convinced he's the perfect man for the job. We spoke with Matt about how he prepared for the his part in the DC universe, what fans can expect from the series when it comes to staying true to the source, and what it's like to play the sort of sarcastic superhero who "kind of doesn't give a sh*t."

Moviefone: This is one of the most highly-anticipated new shows of the season. For people who don't know much about Hellblazer or Constantine, how would you describe this character? Who is John Constantine?

Matt Ryan: John Constantine is a demonologist and he's a master of the dark arts. He's someone who's very cunning and manipulative and kind of will sacrifice anyone or anything to achieve his goal, which is ultimately rid the world of evil and kind of bring balance to the world.

What sets him apart from other superheroes?

I think what's great about him is he's not a guy in a cape, he's not a guy in a costume. He's not a superhero who has a power, he's actually a working class guy who kind of looks out for the everyday man. He uses his brain ultimately to kind of achieve his goals. He has all these magic spells up his sleeve and he can conjure things, but what he relies on most is his cunning and the fact that he can manipulate people. And I think what makes him really appealing is the fact that he's not a guy in a cape and a pair of tights, he's actually just a working class guy.

Even though he's dealing with dark demonic stuff, he always remains witty and clever. Will we get to see a lot of that humor here?

Yeah, definitely. I think that's really integral to the show. What's great about is him is he's so self-loathing and guilt-ridden but at the same time, the way he deals with it is by brushing things off. He's someone who kind of doesn't give a sh*t. People around him die all the time and he doesn't have that many close friends so he kind of walks the world by himself. But he does it with a sense of humor. There's a great line in the comic where he says, "if you're not game for a laugh, then don't turn up." He has that kind of gallows humor which is very unique to any type of comic book superhero.

What can we expect to see in this first season? How far in this comic book story will we get?

We're starting out where the comic started out so we've got the whole canon in front of us. There will be stories taken directly from the comics and then there will be our own stories in there as well. In the first season, what John finds is there's impending darkness coming. The barrier between hell and earth is getting thinner and all bad things are able to get through. John is kind of spirited into action by an old friend sending him a message from beyond the grave that something is out there -- his daughter. So he kind of sets out to save her. And then in the process he learns from an angel, Manny, that there might be a chance to redeem himself and save his soul. Then he kind of takes it on himself to kind of figure out what this rising darkness is. So the overall arc of the season would be him trying to find out what the rising darkness is and he does that by kind of tackling individual cases and seeing if he can put the pieces together by that.

Were you familiar with the comic book? How did you prepare for this role?

To be honest I wasn't that familiar with the comics when the script turned up at my doorstep. I have a friend who's kind of a real comic book buff and Hellblazer is his favorite comic and John Constantine is his favorite comic book hero. He had been telling me about it for years and when I got the role he sat me down and he was teaching me the essential elements of John Constantine. And he still kind of sends me emails now about different issues of the comic, saying, "are you doing this?" So I have real insight from a real fan. When I got the part I think we had two and a half weeks before we shot the pilot, so my research was kind of going to the gym and reading comics which is such a terrible life ...

Was there a storyline or element from the comic book that you were hoping to get at? Did your friend had an idea of something that was absolutely necessary to get to the essence of this character?

I've kind of been jumping around because I wanted to read things. The guys from DC kind of gave me things I should read in terms of the time scale I had preparing for the pilot, so I've been jumping around. My favorite one so far is the Dangerous Habits one, but that's quite far into the comics and we're starting at the beginning so I don't know how long it would take us to get there. There's some great characters, like Gary Lester, who's a great character and the whole backstory. There's The Newcastle crew and everything that happened with Astra -- that's something we'll be exploring as well. We'll be bringing in a bunch of those characters from The Newcastle Crew as well.

How close to the source material will you stay? I hear it's going to be pretty faithful, but in what ways will you differ?

The whole idea is to stay as true to the source material as possible, but when you kind of take something from comic book medium to TV you have to make it your own. I think we're really doing that. So we're trying to stay true to the core elements of the character and the DNA of the comic book and the character but also kind of making it our own as well. Hopefully fans can expect Hellblazer but they can expect our interpretation of it.

Angélica Celaya will be playing Zed, replacing Lucy Griffiths as Liv to be the show's female lead. When will Zed making an appearance?

Zed's first full episode will be episode two. I think what's great about Liv, as the guys said we said at the TCAs and at comic-con, was we thought that she would be someone who was too susceptible to John's predications and they wanted someone who could kind of get in his face a little more. And we really get that with the character of Zed. There's a really interesting kind of chemistry between them and it's a kind of sexual chemistry as well as everything else. These are two people who both have kind of mysterious backgrounds. They're constantly trying to find out those things so there are kind of little trust issues, and they have to build this relationship as they go along. And they both really need each other. She has this power and John leads her to find out what the rising darkness is and he helps her kind of discover her power and how to hold it and stuff. And it's a really interesting dynamic because she doesn't take any of his sh*t. It's great. Angelica is great on-screen and off-screen we have a joke and she's just straight to the point and direct and that really comes out in the character.

Did you see the 2005 film of the same name and did you get Keanu Reeves's blessing at all?

I haven't spoken to him, no. I did see the film years ago. I really liked the film for what it was and I didn't kind of associate it with this world then because I didn't really know about it. But I saw the film and I enjoyed it but haven't spoken to him personally, no.

"Constantine" premieres Friday, October 24 on NBC.

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