CONSTANTINE: Michael James Shaw on Playing Papa Midnite - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

CONSTANTINE: Michael James Shaw on Playing Papa Midnite

November 7, 2014 by  


Papa Midnite — a familiar face to “Hellblazer” fans — makes his first appearance on CONSTANTINE tonight…and his relationship with John is, well, complicated.

I spoke with CONSTANTINE guest star Michael James Shaw (Papa Midnite) about taking on the role…

Were you familiar with “Hellblazer”?
Michael James Shaw: I was not. I did read a lot of comic books when I was a kid…but “Hellblazer” wasn’t on my map. But I had seen the [CONSTANTINE] film with Keanu Reeves.

Did you read up about the character when you landed the role? Or did you want to start fresh?
MJS: I actually got a hold of the “Papa Midnite” origin “Hellblazer” prior to shooting, and I was [looking at that] in reference to who he was. And after that, I was able to get a stack of “Hellblazer” and Constantine books and dive into that.

What can you tease about his introduction in the series?
MJS: You’ll get a nice glimpse into his world, the texture of his world…and it’s very different from anything you’ve seen thus far on the show.

What can you share about his complicated relationship with John Constantine?
MJS: You’re right, it’s complicated. It’s a long past that’s very rocky in terms of them getting along: working against each other; sometimes, reluctantly, working with each other. And you see that right away — they have a history that is not so clean.

Will we be getting any flashbacks, either to their relationship before the TV series, or what Papa Midnite has been up to?
MJS: I can’t say at this moment, but I’m hoping we will.

Can you share if we’ll be seeing Papa Midnite with other people outside of John?
MJS: Yes, I do interact with other characters. Not so much in this coming episode, but later in the season, I can say yes to that.

Has he gotten to meet Zed?
MJS: [Pauses] No comment. [Laughs]

Fair! Since you’re working quite a bit with Matt Ryan (Constantine), what kind of prep have you done to make sure your dynamic is what you want it to be?
We just got in there and tackled the scene, but he’s a great actor to work with. He comes from the theater, so we immediately had a jumping [in] point — I had seen him in a play in New York; I had seen him in “Hamlet.” He’s a great guy to work with. He’s very supportive, a generous actor. I couldn’t ask for a better team captain for the show. His energy is infectious. It’s so great to be led by his energy.

What can you share about how Papa Midnite fits into the show’s overall storytelling?
MJS: There is a darkness rising that is greater than what anyone can imagine in the world of CONSTANTINE. And it may require multiple [characters] to take this power down.

Do you feel like Papa Midnite is a character who can — or should — be redeemed?
MJS: That’s an interesting question. I feel like every character is — I wouldn’t say redeemable, but they are human. Therefore, as an audience member, you can see into their souls and you can see why they do the things they do. Ultimately, the humanity will shine through, regardless if it’s tainted or dark or warped, humanity is what makes these characters connect to us, regardless of what the archetype is, whether it’s villain or hero or antihero. It doesn’t matter. Every character has flaws in this world, and I think at the end of the day, that’s what makes us want to watch. And at the end of the day, every character has some kind of humanity — unless they’re a demon. [Laughs]

In a genre series, special effects are often a big part of filming. How has that experience been like for you?
MJS: It makes it really fun, actually; you get to really use your imagination. You know from reading the script what’s supposed to happen, and you, the directors, the camera operators, you get to build that based on what happens in the room. And then CGI comes in at the end and puts the icing on the cake, and comes and fills in the image.

But you get to craft with your imagination. You’re acting with nothing, sometimes, or pretending that something is happening. And you have to believe it. And if you believe it, and everything in line…it’s kind of magical if you can just trust your imagination. Oh, it looks so great when it’s finished and done.

Since there is this blueprint of who this character was — and could be — in the comics, is there anything from his established story that you hope to get to do?
MJS: Ooh. Let me think about that for one second. [Pauses] There’s so many things he could do. I would kind of want to see his origins played out. That’s way down the line. But that could be fun. [Laughs]

CONSTANTINE airs Fridays at 10 PM on NBC.


CONSTANTINE’s Angélica Celaya: ‘Zed Crashes Into the World of John Constantine’
CONSTANTINE: Matt Ryan on Being Drawn to Playing John Constantine
CONSTANTINE: David S. Goyer on the New NBC Series

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