Outfitted: Matt Ryan

The Constantine star is taking his talents to the theater for Therese Raquin. 

“Shit, this fucking thing is going to be huge.” That was Matt Ryan‘s immediate thought after being cast in NBC’s Constantine as the titular demon hunter. The UK native felt added pressure to give something back following the negative reception to Keanu Reeves’ version, and he was set to do the comic book character justice. “They chose me for a reason and I have to trust that,” Matt told Maxim. “It gave me a little bit of solace knowing so many different artists and writers have contributed to the comics, and I could work with that to make it my own.” 

Like many freshman shows these days, Constantine was left on the cutting room floor after just one season (though John will show up in Star City for an episode of Arrow). Even though Matt won’t continue on his journey as the legendary supernatural detective, the series’ early cancelation did leave room for something positive: more time on stage.

With a history in the performing arts going back to his days of Hamlet and Les Miserables, the 34-year old actor was overjoyed to return to New York, playing opposite Keira Knightley in the production of Therese Raquin, opening October 29th. “It’s like London on speed, it’s fantastic,” he said of the Big Apple. “I have a bunch of friends here, so for me, coming back is not that much of a big deal. It’s like popping over to see my mates, and just going to rehearse and do a play. It’s been great.”

Therese Raquin, based off a 1867 novel by Emile Zola, tells the story of a young woman (Knightley) in search of an escape after finding herself stuck in a loveless marriage. When she comes across an old friend of her husband’s (that’s where Matt comes in), a crazy affair ensues, and caution is thrown to the wind. “When Zola wrote the novel, he was looking at examining people’s temperaments and urges, and looking when people just need to let go,” Matt said. “The play is about that primal instinct and the consequences of the actions you take if you only listen to your gut or your heart. It’s extraordinary.”

After finishing up rehearsal, Matt told Maxim all about working in theater, downtime in New York City, and why every guy must own a good hat. 

I would say I’ve done more theater than I have TV. I love theater because it’s a happy medium. When I’m doing TV or film, I’m like, “I wish I was doing theater,” then when I’m doing theater, I’m like, “Oh my God, TV is so much better.” So the grass is always greener. What’s great is the balance between the mediums, and that’s one silver lining of the show not being picked up. The fact that I’ve been able to come and do this amazing play.

I have this Armani Exchange jacket and it’s kind of like a blazer but it’s made out this stretchy material and I love it. You know when you get that feeling you’re wearing something too much? That’s what I get with this. I bought it about a year ago and it’s just one of those things that fits really well. You can wear it dressed up or casual, it goes with a t-shirt. It’s really versatile and that’s why I like it. I think a lot of things you wear, or a lot of things I’ve tried on, look really cool but they’re not comfortable. I always try to go for something really comfortable. It’s like women and corsets. Sure, they look great, but they can’t breathe.

Every guy should own a good hat! Everyone needs a good hat. Whether it’s a baseball cap or a trilby or a beanie, I have a range of ’em. I’m also a whore for sunglasses like some women are with shoes. I can’t stop buying sunglasses. Every time I stop in an airport on the way to somewhere, I always go and buy a pair.

Where I grew up in Wales, I used to wear yellow kappa tracksuit bottoms, and I liked sporty clothes. I used to wear a gold bracelet and I had my ears pierced in three or four places with big earrings. It’s so funny when you look back at photos and see your hairstyle and your style has changed. Now, I like casual stuff, I’m really into jeans that are a little bit stretchy. Darker tones like grays and browns and blacks with the occasional color in there as well. I also went through a hippie stage with long hair and a beard and I was wearing flares. I actually wore my father’s old bell bottom flares for about a year until somebody told me they were way out of fashion and I was forced to change. Yeah, my fashion sense was very different.

Since I’ve been in New York, I haven’t had much downtime, but I have a bunch of friends I’m looking forward to catching up with. A friend of mine recently told me about this course that he took where a bunch of people get together and they just talk philosophy, so I’m going to look for something like that that’s kind of interesting. I’ve just joined a gym and I’ve joined a yoga place too so I’ll be dabbling with that. Generally, just enjoying the food and drink New York has to offer, and the people as well.