After playing Constantine for seven years, Matt Ryan explains why he felt "it was time" to say goodbye to the trench-coat wearing nasty piece of work on Legends of Tomorrow.
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Guest Starring John Noble

Warning: The following contains spoilers Sunday's DC's Legends of Tomorrow, titled "There Will Be Brood."

John Constantine's time is up.

Matt Ryan's trench-coat loving nasty piece of work died in Sunday's episode of DC's Legends of Tomorrow after a deal with Bishop (Raffi Barsoumian) went oh so very bad. Bishop promised to make John a serum that would force the Fountain of Imperium — which was revealed to be an alien charged with protecting Earth from invasive alien species — deem him worthy of drinking from it. Unfortunately, Bishop double-crossed him and added deadly poison it, which killed him. At least, he shared an emotional goodbye with both Astra (Olivia Swann) and Zari 2.0 (Tala Ashe) before the fountain absorbed him.

While this marks the end of Ryan's run as Constantine on Legends and in the Arrowverse, the actor himself isn't going anywhere. As revealed at San Diego Comic-Con last month, Ryan is returning as a completely different and new character in season 7: Dr. Gwyn Davies, "an eccentric scientist from the early 20th century who may prove to be a pivotal ally for the chaotic time-travelers," according to the character description.

Below, EW chats with Ryan about his seven year journey as Constantine, how he feels about moving on, and more.

Legends of Tomorrow
Credit: Bettina Strauss/The CW

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you react when you found this would be your last season as Constantine?

MATT RYAN: I felt like it was time, especially because I've been playing the character since 2014 when we did the original [NBC] TV show [and] John is someone who always moves along, he walks his own path, and all of that stuff. And there was, inevitably, only so much time he could spend on Legends. I think they did a really good job of fitting someone like John into Legends and what he could bring to it. I love playing the character, as I think everybody knows, but in terms of what we've explored with him on Legends, I think we got as far as we can go aside from John going off on his own journeys again. It didn't feel like, "Oh bummer, man, they pulled it away from me" or anything like that. It was just like, "This feels right to put John to bed."

The back half of this season has taken John down a dark path as he has grappled with this addiction to magic and the blood potion. What has been it like exploring that as John?

It was great. It's almost been like the greatest send-off as well. That scene in episode 13 where John is beating the s--- out of John, it was so satisfying to film. I almost felt like I was back on the original show in the way that we filmed it and the blood and everything. I think the writers just did such a great job with that, and I thought they were really bold in the way that we filmed it. It's a CW network show and it was very, very bloody and visceral, and it felt very real to be filming it. That episode, I watched it on Sunday as well, and [thought], "God, there's so much emotion in it!" With Jes' character Ava and then the whole Zari-Constantine storyline. I was really satisfied with the episode.

I think the payoff is happening now in the season because we started off with John in a place where the audience had never seen him where he's happy and in love, and nice. We're like, "Woah, woah, this isn't John Constantine." But the plan was always to f--- him up [Laughs], to take him back to his roots before he exits. I don't really read that much stuff in the trades or anything, but people have said that people are bit weary of Constantine. They're like, "Oh, Constantine really isn't Constantine this season. He's good." And I think that people were pissed off a little bit, which is good because the payoff is now.

Shooting that Constantine-on-Constantine fight must hav been difficult.

It was a long day. The director, Nico [Sachse], was very ambitious. He wanted to shoot it like a movie in a way. We used a single camera. I think originally John was going to be playing John opposite John and they would be in the same shot. If you notice something in the end-sequence, you never see one of the John's in the same shot together. When he hits his head against the table, we don't actually see any physical part of alternate [or] Hellblazer John hitting him. It was harrowing, man, because it's me against me trying to keep track of what I was doing physically, as well as trying to tell the story. Also with the constraint that you have shooting TV shows with schedules and things, it's very fast. So we had to work out if I did the Junkie John first, or Hellblazer John first and how do we work that out. It was a really long but immensely satisfying day. It was probably one of my favorite days playing this character.

Legends of Tomorrow
Credit: The CW

What was it like shooting your death scene and emotional goodbyes with Astra and Zari?

It was very easy from an acting point of view because I've been with this character for so long. So my journey with him and the relationships I've builtas a person with these actors on the show, and the journey John has been on this show [fed into it]. It's always that kind of sad thing in a way, but you know that things have to move on and they have to change, and I'm not going to be playing John forever or John's not going to be on the Waverider forever. There was something almost cathartic about it in a way. In terms of a process of me letting go of John and working through, the storyline [allowed me] to lend what I felt about it to the scenes as I was going through them.

Did you feel like death was the right way to send Constantine off and this was the only way this version of Constantine's story could've ended?

Well, that's the way it unfolded. I think so, yeah. Taking him where we've taken him was, I feel, completely the right thing for us to do. All the writers were so conscious about trying to give him a good send-off as well. They really wanted to say, "We love John and let's give him this to go." So the way it materialized, it just felt right and organic.

When the original show was canceled, I was gutted. I was like, "I haven't even gotten started." Even though I didn't get to do [the NBC show for a long time], which was the dream back then, having been on Legends and having explored John in ways I never thought I would explore him has been immensely [gratifying].

What do you think you'll miss the most about playing Constantine?

His cockiness and his arrogance in the face of danger. When this pandemic first happened, I was having a conversation with a fan I was doing a one-on-one video call with or something and I said, "I feel like I need a little bit of John now," do you know what I mean? Because John can f---ing get through anything. There was a little bit of me summoning him during this pandemic and going like, John can just blaze through this whereas I was flapping. The brashness, the confidence, and the courage of his convictions, even though it goes terribly wrong most of the time. Basically all of the things I love about the character I'm going to miss playing. Playing him has just become so natural to me, it's a funny thing. I'll miss him dearly, but I'm also really, really looking forward to seeing what happened to the character next as a fan. That's the thing, it's like, "What are they going to do with him? Where is he going to go?" That's a cool thing to feel when you leave a character.

You're already working on season 7. After playing John Constantine for seven years, how has it felt to step into the shoes of a completely different and original new character, and develop something from the ground up?

It's a completely different challenge, isn't it? That's really exciting and it's scary in a wonderful way because you really don't know what it is until you're in the room with the other actors bouncing of them and you can feel those dynamics, and it takes on a life of its own. The work that you do by yourself is as conceptual, but it comes to life in the room, and that's really exciting, and the fact that I can discover things as well as I go along with this character. Like you could do that with John, but I always very conscious of trying to keep John within a certain framework in the Legends style. There were restrictions there because Legends could get pretty amazingly funny and there's some wacky things you could do, and I have done with John, but I was always conscious of keeping him in the right ballpark of trying to stay true to the character's DNA as much as possible. There's more chance for spontaneous things [with Dr. Gwyn Davies] to happen outside of the framework we've constructed, and that's really exciting. I'm not saying it's better than playing John Constantine. John Constantine has been wonderful. The timing of how this thing has happened, it felt like it was time for me to explore something in a different way and this way, so it's worked out perfectly.

The season 6 finale of DC's Legends of Tomorrow airs next Sunday at 8 p.m. on The CW.

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Led by White Canary, a band of superhero misfits defend the time stream with an assortment of wacky threats in the fourth Arrowverse series.

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