‘Legends of Tomorrow’: Matt Ryan Bids Farewell to Constantine, Says Hello to Dr. Gwyn Davies

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Q&A
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What the hell? Legends of Tomorrow‘s resident exorcist John Constantine (Matt Ryan) inches closer to his exit from the team this week, having aligned with the Elon Musk-y baddie Bishop (Raffi Barsoumian) in an effort to regain his lost powers. As with most villains — and hot but emotionally unavailable necromancers who screw over their squad — things go awry and we start to see that darker side of John that, while temporarily lightened by his romance with Zari (Tala Ashe), refuses to be extinguished entirely.

Legends of Tomorrow + Matt Ryan + Tala Ashe

The CW

The good news is that, while the cheeky, troubled Constantine is set to leave the building, Matt Ryan is sticking around. As previously reported, he’ll be introducing us to Dr. Gwyn Davies in Season 7 and while details on the character are still under wraps, we got the actor to give us a little peek into what’s to come.

Now I have to say I was very concerned when they first announced that Constantine was leaving. But then they come around with this great new twist.

Matt Ryan: I know. Right. It’s all, it’s kind of turned out really, really well.

This must have been so nice for you to get to play this character for so long and give him the life that he didn’t get after your NBC experience.

I know, right? … I think it’s about seven years or something [since] 2014 when I started playing him on the original show. And we all know John is a loner. He walks his path alone… even though he pops up in different comic books and all over the canon, ultimately he always goes back to himself. And so it was inevitable that this journey was going to come to an end with him on the Waverider. And also, as an actor, what else could we explore within the context on the style of the show that we’re doing?

So it felt right. It didn’t feel right the first time, when the first show got canceled. I was very disappointed because I didn’t get to explore him. This feels like, OK… to have explored this character on Arrow and on Legends, in ways that we never thought we would. Because we’ve never seen him in this context and it’s be really, really satisfying man. And then when they asked me to come back as well, I was just so excited, because Gwyn is a character we get to create. And it’s a very different approach that I can take to John. So yeah, it’s all turned out really well.

Legends of Tomorrow + Matt Ryan

The CW

And you can stop bleaching your hair, right?

Mate, that’s it! That was it for me. I was like, listen, “I am not playing this character anymore, because I don’t want a bleach my hair.” [Laughs]

Now, how do they start laying the groundwork for John heading for the exit?

I don’t know what I can say really about what they’re going to see in the finale. All I can say is that basically, John’s journey has come to an end. So what I would say is… I don’t know how to tease it then. [Laughs] John’s gone. In Episode 13 when he’s fighting himself, there’s something quite cathartic about it in a way of bringing John to this place. And I just thought it was so bloody and brutal and very in that kind of Hellblazer-world of John Constantine [from the comics]. It was nice to have a flavor of that again [but] it’s also a strange thing for me to be leaving the character and for the storylines to be playing out in this way. It was like me almost kind of me giving way to John, releasing John from all the time that I spent with him. This storyline was actually a great way for me to play out those things as well.

In keeping with the character’s roots, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that he would side with Bishop to get his magic back and all of that.

It’s just a wonderful thing to play, getting back to those roots of John and why I loved the role so much when I first started reading those comics. I mean, that’s why all of those Hellblazer fans love him, because of those traits and his personality of courageous and brashness. That it’s covering over all this darkness, and this tormented, this almost dualistic kind of personality… So I’ve lost my track of what my point was, because I’m just, I was just thinking how f**king amazing John Constantine is as a character.

We started off the season with him as a good guy and we’ve never seen John like that before. It almost felt like I was betraying him, like this is too nice. I’ve taken him to a place I didn’t want to take him [originally], but the fact is that it allowed the payoff at the end of the season. The saving grace for me in playing it is knowing where it’s going. And hopefully we’ve caught the audience in those moments and they’ve gone, “Oh, this isn’t John. What are they doing?” Do you know what I mean? Then we pay it off late…especially with Episode 13 in terms of his darkness and him getting back to being John the bastard. [Laughs]

Legends of Tomorrow + Matt Ryan

The CW

Now, who is Gwyn Davies? What is this guy like?

Ahh yes, Gwyn Davies. I feel that everybody in the U.S. generally pronounces it as “Davies” and I like that, because that’s something that Gwyn would probably be pissed off about. He’d keep on correcting people. It’s pronounced “Davis” not Davies.

Good to know!

Yeah. To be honest with you, look, he’s a bit of a mystery, mate. What’s wonderful about this character is creating him from scratch. Obviously the writers point the way, but there’s things I can discover about this character that I couldn’t with John, because there are no rules with Gwyn. I was always trying to keep John within a certain framework, within the style of the show, whereas Gwyn now has his own beats. And I’m really excited for everyone to kind of see who he is and how, like when John came on to the Legends — how he disrupts the team and what kind of problems or solutions he’s going to bring to the table. But apart from that, I don’t want to say too much. I’d rather say that he’s a mystery and that he’s eccentric. I’d leave it at that, because I’m probably going to get up a poke in the arm. [Laughs]

But when we say “eccentric,” part of that is because he’s from a time period that we’re not used to dealing with, right? So the “science” that he brings with him isn’t exactly the cutting-edge.

Yeah, and the great thing about Legends is you can create characters from any kind of time period or you can also create them from any planets or made-up planets, all of that stuff. The most interesting thing about Gwyn in that way is that the sensibilities he brings from his time period are very different to what these very open, woke time travelers who’ve seen everything. Gwyn’s just been stuck in his world, so that’s an interesting dynamic for me to get into.

John has always [been] the all-knowing, all-seeing, always pull a card out of his back pocket. He’s always got a trick up his sleeve. But [Gwyn] is very much kind of in the mental framework of the time in which he’s in. That’s an interesting thing to explore.

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Is he American?

He is not. Doctor Gwyn Davies is Welsh. Hence the name Gwyn Davies. [Laughs]

Ah, yeah. So I was going to say, I was wondering, are we losing the accent? Because this was, like, we need the accent.

I feel like I’ve already really revealed too much about him, but the most wonderful thing about this all is that I’m discovering him now, as we’re shooting and the the audience is going to discover him when they start watching. It’s a whole different character that comes onto the show.

Oh my God. This is probably the first time you’ve had to go through like costume fittings and everything.

Oh my gosh. It’s hilarious. I’ve been in the costume more times in two weeks than I have all the time I played Constantine. I was like, “Guys, costume fitting? Who does costume fittings?” It’s so funny.

And you kept one of John’s trench coats, right?

I did. Yeah. I think I have the whole outfit. [Laughs]

Legends of Tomorrow, Season 6, Sundays, 8/7c, The CW