We’re quickly approaching the end of the first season of “Preacher” (with a second already confirmed), and from what we’ve heard, fans of the comic are pretty divided about the show while people who aren’t as familiar with the source material seem more forgiving.
If you’re among those who are anxiously awaiting the finale and are curious about Season 2, we have a few tidbits for you here from the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con press conference with exec producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg; comic creator Garth Ennis; and co-stars Dominic Cooper (Jesse), Ruth Negga (Tulip), Joseph Gilgun (who was BORN to play Cassidy and is just as charismatic in person as you’d expect), Ian Colletti (Eugene), and Graham McTavish (The Cowboy).
We started with Ennis and the creative team of Rogen and Goldberg, who were asked why they made Tulip and Jesse childhood friends, something that wasn’t part of the comics. Goldberg said it stemmed from making Jesse’s father a preacher and the idea of them knowing each other made for a “richer story.” Tulip now factors into the overall “melded idea” of father/church/town and Jesse’s quest for redemption.
They see the show a “genre-jumping action/horror/comedy” tale, which, Rogen says, helps keep the crew “super pumped” to come up with new and different things; it’s “like working on four different shows” in one. Goldberg joked a bit about how they originally “pitched it as Sin City” with scenes looking exactly like pages from the comics, but showrunner Sam Catlin told them what a “terrible idea” that was.
Seth thinks “going in cold” without having read the comics is “probably better” given how much things have been changed. One such change is the Jesse/Tulip/Cassidy triangle, which happened much later in the comics. Rogen said they wanted to “plant a time bomb” – we don’t know if or when it will go off.
About those changes, Ennis told them to “go for it” and said he wishes he’d thought of some of them, such as Cassidy’s “fight on the plane, Tulip’s escapade in the cornfield,” and of course the motel scene. Seth added the goal has been to “capture a cinematic translation of this comic… keep it unpredictable, both story-wise and visually.” With regard to the serial killer storyline that feels a bit shoehorned in, Rogen promises there’s “more of that to come.”
As for whether Ennis might write for the series in the future, he said he would definitely like to try his hand at it. And don’t expect any spinoffs a la “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Better Call Saul.” Instead, said Rogen, “We’re just going to adapt Garth’s other comics.”
Rogen commented a bit on how different working in TV is from movies, saying it was “like learning a new job,” the biggest differences being “the speed” at which decisions are made – the casting, number of setups, etc., and “how much time is spent in post[-production].” TV directors “do a show and then are gone.” All of the music/score, color timing/palette decisions, etc., are left to them as producers. Plus, he was all ready to “fight AMC like the MPAA,” but all of their “character and emotional choices” have been accepted by the network. Some things “required conversations” about “why” they were important, but in the end he was shocked at how much they can do… literally “anything but saying ‘fuck.'”
Next up were the cast members. Cooper was asked if, given his immense power, Jesse can be seen as some sort of superhero, and he responded that Jesse is “making a mistake” and is a “flawed superhero” because “it doesn’t work.” He’s a man “desperate to change himself.” He “feels guilty” but also “thinks he’s the chosen one and can do good”; however, the fact he “doesn’t recognize” his flaws and “can harbor Genesis means he’s half evil and half good.”
He agrees the character is “quite unsympathetic but in a state of reflection.” Whereas, Rogen and Goldberg were mum on the direction in which the remaining episodes and Season 2 are heading, Cooper said the “next half” of Jesse’s “journey is to search for answers.” He added that Jesse “began heavy, depressed, stuck in his past… now he has a purpose.” He has “a girl he loves, met a new great friend, and the three of them go on a journey,” which should be reassuring for fans of the comic who have been waiting for that particular storyline to begin.
He was asked if anything that Jesse has done has surprised him, and he said he was “shocked by how calm Jesse was” after sending Arseface to Hell and his “lack of immediate remorse.” But don’t think we’ve seen the worst yet… Cooper said ominously, “He’s capable of doing that and a lot more.” Jesse is a “very, very flawed person.”
Ruth said that playing Tulip is “a joy” and she loves how “contradictory, like we are as human beings” the character is. She’s attracted by her “unapologetic, violent tendencies.” It’s an “armor to protect herself.” Tulip has a “pure sense of justice… it’s like a personal quest for her” based on her childhood, as we’ve seen in the flashbacks thus far. As for Jesse, Negga feels he is “actually running away from himself” and should learn that “maybe you can’t outrun your true nature.” Referring to the “triangle,” she said that you “don’t forgive this ‘trinity of misfits’ but can empathize with them.”
McTavish expanded on that theme, saying that “so many of the characters are trying to suppress their true natures, keeping the darkness we all carry with us in check.” As for the character he himself portrays, having been “already a huge fan of the comic,” becoming “this iconic character” was “overwhelming and quite a responsibility.”
Although he also says his role has “been a joy” to play, it’s challenging for Ian to portray Eugene/Arseface due to the heavy makeup he wears – it generally takes 2 to 2-1/2 hours to put on. He relies on his eyes to communicate in hopes people can “forget about his deformity and see him as a human being.”
As for fan favorite Cassidy, Gilgun was asked why he’s loyal to Jesse, someone whom he barely knows. As someone who’s “119 years old and sick of it,” Cassidy “sees a little of himself” in Jesse’s search for redemption. Considering that everyone dies and “leaves him anyway,” he “feels needed” by Jesse.
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