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Why Satan From Constantine Looks So Familiar

Directors have found a lot of different ways to depict the devil over the years. Sometimes filmmakers opt for a cartoonish, imp-like creature with horns, while others have simply used an angry Al Pacino in a nice jacket and an unbuttoned dress shirt to evoke the prince of darkness.

However, one of the most compelling portrayals of the ultimate evil in recent memory landed somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. The 2005 adaptation of the Hellblazer comics, rebranded as Constantine and starring Keanu Reeves, may not have been a runaway critical success, but it did well at the box office and featured a memorable depiction of the devil by Peter Stormare. Here Satan, or Lucifer Morningstar as he is known in the Hellblazer canon, appears almost human — except for his inky veins, oily footprints, and unsettling, lip-smacking speech patterns.

Constantine's depiction of Satan works because what appears at first to be familiar is upon further inspection deeply unsettling. It's this sense of the uncanny that makes Stormare's presence in the film so indelible. Here are some other films that you might recognize the long-time character actor from.

Peter Stormare found a new use for a wood chipper in Fargo

While Peter Stormare's acting career began in the late '70s when he found work playing small parts in his native country of Sweden, he didn't transition into mainstream films until the mid-'90s. One of his first significant parts, in the 1996 Coen brothers film Fargo, would become one of his most recognizable roles to this day.

In Fargo, Stormare plays Gaear Grimsrud, the deadlier half of the kidnapping duo who takes Jean Lundegaard (Kristin Rudrüd) hostage on the instructions of her husband, Jerry (William H. Macy). Gaear demonstrates no hesitation when given the opportunity to solve situations with violence.

As the kidnapping goes awry and the body count piles up, Gaear provides a "funny-looking" but intimidating presence in a darkly comedic film. When police chief Marge Gunderson (Francis McDormand) finally comes across Gaear while he's disposing of his partner's body in a wood chipper, it makes for a shocking end to one of the most critically acclaimed films of that year. Stormare's ability to make his character so memorable with so few lines speaks volumes of his skills as an actor.

Stormare helped save the planet in Armageddon

Throughout his career, Peter Stormare has demonstrated that he doesn't necessarily need a lot of screen time to make an impact. An excellent example of this is seen in the 1998 blockbuster Armageddon, in which Stormare doesn't even make an appearance until the film's final act, though he makes the most of it with some hilarious lines as an almost delusional Russian cosmonaut.

As Armageddon barrels toward its ridiculous climax, Harry Stamper (Bruce Willis) and his crew of oil drillers-turned-amateur astronauts dock with the Russian space station Mir. Once there, Stamper is greeted by Lev Andropov (Stormare), whose extended isolation in space has left him a little unhinged. Lev accompanies the crew to assist in the warhead placement on the asteroid, eventually helping the remaining crew escape by demonstrating how the forceful application of a wrench can solve complex technical problems.

Stormare exaggerates his natural Swedish accent for humorous, gruff Russian intonation that helps make what could have simply been a throwaway character memorable. With actors like Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck giving their all in the same scenes, the fact that Stormare makes his Russian cosmonaut stand out is all the more impressive.

Stormare wanted to live free or die in Longmire

Many of Stormare's most memorable film roles involve depicting vaguely foreign characters, but the actor can play a convincing American as well. On A&E's Longmire, Stormare plays a murderous survivalist who became a recurring character after the show was brought back by Netflix.

Stormare's character, Chance Gilbert, first appeared in season 3 when he kidnapped Sheriff Walt Longmire's (Robert Taylor) Deputy Vic Moretti (Katee Sackhoff) and her husband. Longmire thwarts the deranged separatist and his followers, although they eventually reappear in seasons 5 and 6 before Chance's run ends in a showdown with Vic.

As Chance, Stormare minimizes his accent while espousing a personal philosophy of complete freedom at all costs. During the character's final moments, Stormare expertly plays a conflicted soul who believes his desire for absolute autonomy justifies his extreme actions, even if he exhibits muted regret for the pain he has caused. It's a complex perspective that Stormare effectively portrays.

Peter Stormare plays Czernobog on American Gods

Coming full circle from his portrayal of Lucifer in Constantine, one of Peter Stormare's most recent roles finds him playing a Slavic "god of evil and darkness," according to American Gods producer Brian Fuller (via Entertainment Weekly). On the Starz adaptation of the Neil Gaiman novel, Stormare plays Czernobog, a figure from ancient Slavic mythology who now works as a cow knocker in a Chicago slaughterhouse, which is precisely what it sounds like.

However, Stormare prefers to think of his character as a "sort of Slavic Thor, because Thor exists all over the planet, I guess, in many different shapes and forms." The tool Czernobog uses in his day job is a sledgehammer, an armament evocative of Thor's signature weapon, which he later uses to threaten the mysterious Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), 

While Czernobog's appearances on American Gods are spread out, Stormare makes the most of them. When this god of evil and darkness appears as a hulking figure surrounded by curls of cigarette smoke, often covered in blood, it's hard for the audience not to pay attention.