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Keanu Reeves, Rachel Weisz, Djimon Hounsou, Shia LaBeouf and director Francis Lawrence discuss the religious aspects of Constantine

Religion has been the subject for many great horror movies, from The Exorcist to The Prophecy to Stigmata. It has less frequently been a vehicle for the action genre, but since Constantine is considered action/horror, that might make the transition more palatable for audiences. For his part, star Keanu Reeves downplayed the religious aspects of the movie.

"I think of it as a kind of secular religiosity," Reeves said. "The piece itself is using icons and a platform in a kind of catholic heaven-and-hell, god-and-the-devil, human souls, fighting for those. I was hoping that these concepts could become a platform that are humanistic, that the journey of this particular hero is hopefully relatable to - even though they're such fantastic characters and situations - that it's still a man trying to figure it out. I think that those kinds of journeys, a hero journey, or Siddartha, these are all kind of seeking aspects that hopefully have something of value to our lives, that we can take with us and hopefully in the works that are entertaining and these kinds of journeys that I think all of us, especially in western traditions, relate to. I think these motifs of seekers, messiahs, of anti-heroes, heroes, all of these aspects are journeys that I think deal with things that we deal with in our day-to-day in a way, and are entertaining."

Director Francis Lawrence agreed that the religious theology in the film was simply a means to telling the story. Even when the angel Gabriel reminds Constantine of the rules of Catholicism, which prove to be true throughout the film, Lawrence emphasizes that it is Constantine's own witness of hell that grounds the film's theology.

"He does know that he is going to hell, but he does know that he has been damned to hell for a long time," Lawrence said. "Also, because he's been to hell. He committed suicide and he's been there and he thinks he knows a little bit about the rules as well. I think what was always amazing to me is that when people would read the script, there was a lot of people and a lot of actors that came in and read this thing and they aren't Catholic and I'm not Catholic. And they could respond and relate to a lot of the ways the world works. There is a lot of Catholic theology in it, but it also sort of appeals to people who aren't Catholic or Christian. Just because there is this idea of the balance and if it's actually angels or demons or is just negative energy or positive energy or just being influenced one side or the other. Just the polarity of the way the world works. I think people have always responded to that."

In developing the script, Reeves emphasized the real world aspects of the character, but contributed one of the character's most philosophiscal lines. "One of the expressions is in the end of the film, he's like, 'I guess there's a plan for all of us. I had to die twice just to figure that out. Like the book says, he works his works in mysterious ways. Some people like it, some people don't' is mine. That's mine. And that to me was the ground for where Constantine ends up. And there's still that ambivalence of some people like it and some people don't, but there's an acknowledgement and in that acknowledgement I feel that you're watching the character who's dealing with something that happened to him that he didn't understand. He was given this curse or this gift to be able to see the world beyond the world. And in despair as a young man overwhelmed, he takes his own life and he goes to hell. Comes back from hell, he has no idea why. And I think that search of his trying to orient like, [looks up] 'Hey, fella, I'm doin' all this work, what are you doing to me?' and with people. So that was how I felt, so that was my impact. It's not sp[iritual]- - but it's flesh and blood."

Djimon Hounsou plays the neutral figure Papa Midnight. He is not on either side of the religious battle. "I saw him as a politician," Hounsou said. "I saw him as somebody who understood his own limitations and respecting others to co-exist. I really think he understood that he was truly a businessman. His politics were really not bad. There's nothing negative. There's really no negative connotation to his politics. It's through his politics really that they are all allowed to co-exist. That's what creates the bonus for him."

Psychic powers play a large role in Constantine as well, and actor Rachel Weisz studied up, though was never convinced. "I actually met her through somebody I know here in LA who's quite deep into that culture," Weisz said. "I believe that she believes that she's psychic, this woman that I met. I don't know, I can't prove it. In doing research, if you meet someone who really is who you're pretending to be, I steal. I just steal from them so I ask them questions about their childhood and about what it feels like to have a vision, what it feels like to have sight and how it's a burden, how it's a blessing and what it's like to have a boyfriend and you can read their mind. I just ask them all the questions. Somehow I just steal from them, so when I'm playing the character, I've just gotten stolen goods from somebody else and it's research. Like detective work. So did I believe? I believed that that was her reality. A ghost has never revealed itself to me. I'm pretty in tune with people. I can normally get a sense of what the vibes are in a room, but I can't read somebody's mind."

Shia Labeouf plays Constantine's assistant Chas. Chas has no special powers and views the world of demons and exorcisms from the outside, much like the audience of the film. "I think that Chas, when I read it and did it, he feels like the eye of the audience. He's not the narrator but he is definitely the most human of all the people in the film. He's the only one that doesn't have this power connection with the other world. So yeah, he feels very human. I definitely think a lot of people, kids and adults will connect with Chas because they don't have that power or connection with the other world. So I definitely feel that he is an inclusive character."

Think about religion when you see Constantine, opening February 18.

{/news/0/.phpid=6735|Part 1: The Stunts of Constantine

{/news/0/.phpid=6736|Part 2: Ping Pong on the Set of Constantine

{/news/0/.phpid=6750|Part 3: Religion in Constantine