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NBC won’t allow John Constantine to smoke in television series

The upcoming Constantine television series may feature all manner of terrifying demonic entities and occult themes, but one thing you won’t see is the title character smoking a cigarette.

Fans of the Hellblazer comic book series and its protagonist, John Constantine, have been buzzing for months about the possibility of the television network nixing the DC Comics sorcerer’s trademark cigarette habit ever since the project was first announced, and now there comes some official word from the pilot episode’s director, Neil Marshall. And purists aren’t going to be happy about it.

“No, we’re not [having the character smoke constantly],” Marshall told Collider during last weekend’s Saturn Awards. “It’s the one thing that’s a compromise I guess. It is network [television] and you can’t smoke on network. That’s one of his character traits, so we’re working around that. We’re working to get aspects of it in there as much as possible. We’ll see.”

While Marshall is no stranger to pushing boundaries when it comes to scary elements (as seen in his 2005 horror hit The Descent), network regulations apparently drew the line at allowing Constantine’s favorite Silk Cut cigarettes into the script.

Marshall also indicated that Constantine’s terminal lung cancer — which played a major role in the comics and also factored into the 2005 film Constantine based on the character — was not currently being considered as an element of the character in the television series. In DC Comics canon, Constantine’s cancer was often regarded as a ticking clock of sorts for the character and an impetus for some of his more questionable actions.

Even Marshall expressed some frustration with the smoking regulation on network television, given the horror elements of the show that were entirely permissible.

“Whatever the regulations are, you can be as dark and disturbing as you want and we’re going to go in that direction,” he explained. “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.”

Constantine premieres October 24 on NBC and stars Matt Ryan, Lucy Griffiths, Harold Perrineau. and Charles Halford.

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