While NBC’s Constantine aims to be a more faithful adaptation by keeping him blonde, British, and decidedly not Keanu Reeves, one of his most defining characteristics has already been transformed by broadcast standards. “On network, it’s the one thing, you can’t smoke on network,” pilot director Neil Marshall tells Collider. “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.”
Marshall didn’t elaborate on how the show planned to have “aspects” of John Constantine’s chain-smoking habit without ever showing him actually chain smoking—such as, for example, everyone always remarking on how super cool he is, and how he’s obviously a rebel who doesn’t have to take shit from anybody. But the smoking ban has preemptively ruled out one of Constantine’s most identifiable attributes—not to mention the root of one of the series’ most compelling storylines, crucial to both the comics and the 2005 movie, that ironically serves as an excellent anti-smoking PSA.
On the brighter side, as Hannibal has shown, you can force-feed a character his own body parts on NBC, so long as he doesn’t enjoy a rich, satisfying smoke afterward. “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,” Marshall added. “But the smoking is very frustrating. Who knows where it will go; where the story will go; where the character will go?” Wherever that is, and however immersed in grisly murder and supernatural terror it may be, at least parents can be assured their kids won’t see anyone smoking cigarettes.