TV network regulations on smoking are very strict in the U.S., so it's unsurprising that the main character of NBC's Constantine won't be a smoker. But when that main character is DC's John Constantine - a man known for his chain-smoking, who eventually contracts lung cancer it's such an integral part of his person - it's still news.
In an interview with Collider, pilot director Neil Marshall (you know, the one of The Descent, Dog Soldiers and Doomsday fame) admits that the creative team behind the show lost this particular battle:
Can John Constantine smoke on TV?
MARSHALL: No we’re not. It’s the one thing, a compromise I guess. On network it’s the one thing you can’t smoke on network. That’s one of his character traits. We’re working around that. We’re trying to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We’ll see.
Does he still have cancer of some type, can you say?
MARSHALL: I have no idea where the story is going to go beyond the pilot, so I can’t answer that one.
In the pilot, does it make any mention of him having any kind of cancer?
No, it doesn’t.
Finding the correct tone and keeping the immense darkness of the character on NBC – not CW – primetime?
MARSHALL: Hannibal is on NBC, and that’s pretty dark and disturbing. Whatever the regulations are, you can be as dark and disturbing as you want and we’re going to go in that direction. The intention is to be as dark and scary as possible with the show. And that was our whole kind of plan going in, to make it scary. So we’re going to explore all kinds of things. But the smoking is very frustrating. Who knows where it will go; where the story will go; where the character will go? There’s still lots of options.
Well, if you're name-dropping Hannibal, Neil Marshall, I think we can make this work, chain-smoking or no.
In other news, I continue to approve of the way the actor playing Constantine - Matt Ryan - looks in the pics we've seen of the show. And maybe this new development means we won't have to suffer through Keanu-level unconvincing fake coughs.