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"Constantine," based on the comic-book series "Hellblazer," stars Keanu Reeves as John Constantine, a detective who's been to hell and back (literally) and can see into a world that mere mortals cannot. When a woman (Rachel Weisz) hires him to solve the mysterious suicide of her sister, he opens her eyes to what he can see, and all hell breaks loose.

Reeves recently sat for a Q&A session following a screening of "Constantine" for MTV's "Never Before Scene." He was joined by co-star Shia LaBeouf, who brings a little comic relief to the otherwise dark film, and director Francis Lawrence, who until now was best known for making music videos, including Justin Timberlake's "Cry Me a River" and Gwen Stefani's "What You Waiting For?" Moderated by "TRL" co-host Quddus, the discussion ranged from hauntings on the set to a custom-made crucifix that requires a 30-day waiting period.

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Quddus: Nice to see you guys. How did you prepare for your roles? Did you do any research into the occult?

Keanu Reeves: How did we prepare?

Shia LaBeouf: How did you prepare? My preparation for the interview didn't go too well. My preparation wasn't really immense. My character is just kind of fun-loving, the sidekick.

Reeves: That's actually your whole life.

LaBeouf: That's my whole life. My whole life — I've been preparing for 18 years, actually.

Reeves: You brought your whole life to it.

LaBeouf: That's true, I brought it all to the table.

Quddus: What about yours, because yours was a pretty intense role, to say the least.

Reeves: Yeah, you know, I met with an exorcist, met with some doctors. My character has a condition that he is dying from, so I met with some doctors, met with an exorcist — that was an interesting day.

Quddus: Must have been. What was the exorcist like?

Reeves: You know, he's like basically fighting the devil. He's like, "You have to have contact and protect yourself."

LaBeouf: We had a priest on set for a little while too. It was ridiculous.

Reeves: Yeah, we were doing the Latin right.

LaBeouf: I can't even talk right now.

Quddus: No, it's OK. I think you were just thinking about how much you had to confess to the priest that day, when you were on set.

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LaBeouf: It was a lot. Actually, you know what? I never really was scared about hell or any of that stuff until the priest was on set talking like ... you never think it's real until he's, like, so serious about it. Like, this is how you're supposed to say it. And you're going, "Wow, you really devoted your life to this. Are you kidding me?" And it's serious because he's serious about it. Especially when it's a priest.

Quddus: When someone speaks with enough conviction, you believe just about anything. Like the exorcist, did you really start believing that he could extract the devil?

Reeves: Well, I don't know if it was the devil. How is that guy? What's he doing? Did you meet? Did you ask [the devil] why he's doing what he's doing? "What are you doing, man? Feel the love. What are you so pissed off about? What do you want?"

Quddus: I want you to conduct this interview because you like questions so much.

Audience member: How did Constantine become a demon slayer, and does Chas have the same abilities?

LaBeouf: No, we don't have the same abilities, otherwise it would be a really ridiculous movie. ... It wouldn't work too well. Chas doesn't really have any powers because he's one of the only characters who's really human in the film. And he humanizes the movie, [a quality that] a lot of films [in this genre] don't have. And Keanu, of course, has that power.

Reeves: I guess Constantine doesn't really understand why he has the gift to see behind the veil of the world. He can see behind the real world, he can see a heaven aspect and a hell aspect. He can see what he calls half-breeds, which are kind of demons or angels sent on earth to influence, and he has this gift to be able to see the angels and demons. In terms of dealing with exorcisms and other powers that he has, he's kind of developed this gift that was given to him, this power that he can bend or move in the world. He has the capability to go to hell, for instance. Not on a first date. "Want to go to hell?"

Audience member: What was it about this movie that attracted you both to your roles?

LaBeouf: For me, at least — and it's weird saying it while he's here — a big thing for me, like it would be for anybody else, was [the opportunity to work with] Keanu. Not to pop your collar. That was a big thing. Francis Lawrence [is a] ridiculous director, and even though it was his first film, his reel is extraordinary and a lot of fun to watch. And the script, which is usually how it goes for most roles. This was just overwhelmingly so, and the director, Francis, was a big reason why.

Quddus: His reel was a dance party. What about you, Keanu?

Reeves: Yeah, the script was really great. The idea of this character trying to kind of achieve a kind of freedom of will ... The aspect of this character who can see how the mechanisms of the world [work], trying to liberate from it, I guess. And I loved that he has kind of a fatalism to him. So I liked his kind of fatalistic, cynical yet kind of human side. He's really trying to find his life. So there was that struggle.

Quddus: Hell of a lot of depth to your character.

Reeves: Yeah, you know, and he's funny as all heck. And he's kind of sardonic and wry. And dealing with this character, you know, it's pretty easy to be sardonic and wry.

Quddus: When you're having to deal with the fires of hell, you need to find a sense of humor.

Reeves: Yeah, I think so.

NEXT: Keanu and Shia describe exactly the kind of hell they encountered on set ...
Photo: Warner Bros.

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