‘Preacher’ Season One Ends With a Bang

Reading Time: 16 minutes

SDCC2016Recap-PreacherRecently, Preacher ended it’s season one finale with a bang and Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy setting out on the road.

Don’t worry, there are no spoilers for the finale to be found here. For fans of the comic book, this is essentially where the comic starts. Rogen and Goldberg wanted the first season to really expand on the very, very quick launch of the comic book series to give the characters some more depth, and get viewers more invested in them. They also made certain characters, like Arseface, more likable to make them more grounded and empathetic. Some people might think taking a whole season to really start the main story line was taking it too slowly, but it really added a lot of depth to the characters and was a nice addition to the Preacher story.

For anybody who loves the comic and isn’t watching the show, you need to get on it. Preacher is my favorite comic to screen adaptation. The show is absolutely perfect, and as a long time fan of the comic, I have zero complaints. If you don’t have cable, you can pre-order the Blu-ray of Season One. I already put my order in because I can’t wait to binge watch the season and to see all of the outtakes and extras promised.

I was lucky enough to be part of a press conference at San Diego Comic Con with the Preacher cast and crew. We first got to talk to Garth Ennis, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg.

Press:
Garth, are there any scenes from the show you wish you had written?
Ennis:
The fight on the plane. Christ, that’s wonderful. Tulip’s escapade through the corn field. Both of those characters were introduced in vastly more imaginative ways than I managed.
Press:
How do you find the balance between adapting the comic and telling your own story?
Goldberg:
We originally pitched it as “Sin City” style, panel for panel show. But dropped that as soon as they picked it up. Garth said that as long as we maintained the core characters emotional arcs and the damage that they have, that we could kind of run wild.
Press:
How do you deal with a subject like religion without offending people?
Rogen:
As long as it feels like you’re exploring an idea rather than telling people your beliefs, I think it’s a lot easier to delve into subject matter that some people might think is very hard subject matter to delve into. It’s a conversation not a statement. It’s a dialogue not a monologue. I hope that’s what keeps it from being alienating and from feeling “preachy,” for lack of a better word.
GeekDad:
Speaking of controversy, as someone who has recently adopted an African American girl, I love that Ruth Negga is Tulip. That representation is very important to me. Is that something that was intentional? And how have you dealt with any backlash from the casting?
Goldberg:
I haven’t felt any backlash from anyone on it, but we did it intentionally. We thought having an all white cast was lame. It’s also interesting for their love story. It’s the south.
Rogen:
We just thought it added to the character and to the story and the themes. It made it slightly more of our time in some ways. It allowed us to explore some of the things that are clearly going on in our world, in our country. There were literally endless reasons to do it once the idea came up, and, literally, no reason not to do it.
Goldberg:
But then Ruth just showed up, and it was like I don’t care what, it’s just you. It was one of those auditions where she just knocked it out of the park and left the room.
Rogen:
Yeah, she was incredible. It was amazing. It was one of those things where like, now that’s how I see Tulip in my head.
Press:
Joseph looks like he walked out of the comic book fully formed and made. Can you tell us about his reading for that?
Goldberg:
His mother video taped him in their basement, and sent a video in. We didn’t watch it for weeks. We kept meeting with all these people and ignoring this video.
Rogen:
We didn’t realize he was an actual actor with an agent. We finally watched it, and we were just blown away by it, and then we Skype’d with him. And it was like talking to the character, and it was amazing. He IS that.
Goldberg:
He’s the least disappointing person you could ever meet. He’s everything you ever hoped someone was.
Rogen:
You meet him, and you’re like, “I just met Cassidy from the Preacher comics.”
Press:
I heard James Franco was originally going to be Jesse?
Rogen:
Franco was considered for Jesse, years ago in a very preliminary phase. Casting a TV show is the biggest difference between TV and movies. We met with Dominic once and hired him without ever doing a Jesse read. We still tell him that if he had auditioned, he wouldn’t have got the job.
Press:
AMC has a history of spin-offs with Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead. Do you see any Preacher spin-offs?
Goldberg:
Oh yeah, Totally Tulip, Keeping Up with Cassidy, Odin’s Meat Men. No. We’re going to make his (points at Ennis) other comics instead. He has enough to keep us busy for 30 years.
Press:
Garth, do you see yourself writing any episodes of Preacher?
Ennis:
Provision has been made for me to do so. I do have this ongoing feeling that I should just sit back and leave them to it. What they’re doing is so good. But yes, I would like to try my hand at it eventually.
Press:
Seth, can you tell us about being behind the camera as opposed to being in front of it?
Rogen:
It’s very different. It’s completely different. It’s like a new job. Creating a show and then directing some episodes. And we spend way more time in post-production than I thought we would. We spend a huge amount of time in the editing rooms, in visual effects, and color time, and music, and sound mixing, and score, and really taking the material that they deliver us and then turning this into our TV show every week. Because the tone is so specific and the style and the music is such a big part of it and something we didn’t know is that TV directors don’t really do that. They work on the show for five days, and then they’re gone. In a way, it’s been very educational to see how much you can do in post-production.
Press:
Is there anything you guys have had to fight AMC for?
Goldberg:
It’s like night and day from movies. With movies, you gotta fight for what you want. With AMC, we have super rational conversations, and if it’s emotional and character-based, they let us do it, and if it’s unnecessary, they call it out, and they’re right. It’s bizarre. We were ready to thrown down.
Rogen:
Yeah, we thought it was like the MPAA where it’s this faceless, nameless organization that we just send our stuff to and pray it comes back. But we call a guy, and he’s like, “why do you need to do this?” And we’re like, “well, we really think it helps the story.” And he’s like, “ok, let me think about that.” We get a call back twenty minutes later, and he’s like, “we thought about it, and we think you guys are right. We’ll let you do it.” But, honestly, there has not been anything that we have been rejected on. Honestly, I’ve been shocked at how much we’ve been able to do, and truly, the only thing we can’t do is say, “f$@k.” It’s really been surprising in how free of a creative process it’s been.

After a small break, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Colletti, and Graham McTavish came in.

Press:
Dominic, can you talk about the superpower of Genesis? Jesse’s a good guy, but Genesis is kind of bad. Can you talk about approaching that character?
Cooper:
Arseface clears it up quite well. He suggests you can’t force people into being something that they’re not already–Not what they want to be. They have to make the choice to change.
Press:
So is Jesse a superhero?
Cooper:
I suppose. He can make anyone do anything, but he’s a flawed superhero because doesn’t actually work. It’s going against what he actually wants to achieve which is to improve a place that he cares a lot about. He’s a man desperate to change himself. To make himself a better person. He knows he’s flawed. He feels guilty about what he did to his father. And he thinks he’s the chosen one. He’s coming around to that way of thinking very quickly. At first he didn’t want anything to do with it, and it seems like its absorbing into the very fabric of who he is. That he thinks he can still do good with it. But the truth is that power on that scale is very dangerous. The fact that he hasn’t realized that says a lot about him. The fact that he is capable of having this entity inhabit him and remain there, where most people have exploded, but the fact that he can harness it means, to me, that he’s half evil and half good. There’s a very bad side to him. He’s had a tough life and road. I like that you say he’s good, because he is desperately trying to improve himself.
Press:
Can you tell us about playing such a strong female character? And also about making Tulip a woman of color?
Negga:
She’s a joy to play really because she’s so contradictory like we are as human beings. I think that I don’t really feel that we see enough portrayals of people like that especially of women and women of color. What attracts me to her is probably what repels most people–her sort of unapologetic rather violent tendencies. But for me they’re not just aggressive for the sake of violence, I think that she feels that its an armor of sorts to protect herself but also she has a sort of pure sense of justice. And you can see that through the series. When she says to the kids, “He was a really bad man,” its not just to excuse her behavior, she really does mean that. And also when she rehabilitates Cassidy, she cant bare the idea that there’s so much injustice in society. That extends from her childhood that we’ve seen in the flashbacks. It’s a sort of personal quest.

In terms of women of color, I think its a relief to play someone like her. I also find that when I’m watching its a relief to see someone like her. It’s very important to me. It’s really a question of visibility. For so long, we’ve been so complacent about there not being enough people of color or, in fact, the whole world reflected in our arts and culture. I think that conversation needs to keep happening because there’s so much more we can do.

Press:
Ian, as an actor, you obviously communicate a lot with your face but with this role you are wearing a significant amount of make-up. Can you talk about your process around that?
Colletti:
It’s one of the most challenging things about playing the character but it was also part of what I found very seductive about the role. Because half of my face is taken up by this thick prosthetic it really forces me to kind of rely on my eyes. When it comes to subtext and telling the story beneath the lines, you have to communicate it with your eyes. From a technical standpoint it can be quite difficult. It takes about two, two and a half hours to get it on every morning and I can’t eat when I’m wearing it. I’m literally drinking smoothies on screen and off all day. It’s been a joy to play the character. He’s a very interesting human being. I wasn’t familiar with the comic books before I got to read for the character. When I saw there was a character named Arseface and got to read about him, I was instantly interested. But the thing I found most compelling and the greatest challenge in playing him was in being able to humanize him and make this larger than life comic book character, Arseface, into Eugene, the flawed and very real and empathetic human being. As the series progresses I very much hope that people begin to almost forget about the prosthetic and his deformity and can see him as a human being and as a character that is, at times, surprisingly relateable.
Press:
Dominic, can you reflect a little on Jesse’s journey in the first season?
Cooper:
Physically doing it myself and then watching it, its quite different. It’s different from how I imagined it. I’m much less sympathetic towards him and I wonder why these people stand by him. He’s vile. I was quite unaware how vile he was actually. But I think he’s now in a place of reflection. He has established that he’s no good with this power, and he’s not the one who should harness it and use it. Now, he knows that the next part of the journey together with these people that he loves is in search of answers. He’s demanding them and that god owes them all answers. He began quite heavy, depressed, and stuck in his past. But you see him start to come out of that and he now has a purpose which he’s never really had before apart from violence and crime. He’s with the girl he loves, he’s met a great new friend, and they’re on the road. I hope you’re left and compelled by what might happen when these three go in search of this thing I won’t say yet (the season finale had not yet aired).
Negga:
Running away from his past and trying to find himself, i think he was actually running away from himself and that’s the kind of journey that he realizes maybe that you can’t outrun your true nature and that’s the battle.
Press:
Graham, the Saint is probably the best character in the show–
Gilgun:
Wanker!
Press:
How does it feel working separately and are you anticipating what happens when your characters come together in the world?
McTavish:
I’m a huge fan of the books. I knew everything about the books before I started the show. The idea of becoming this iconic character I loved when I was reading them was quite overwhelming at first, and I felt, justifiably, a responsibility for playing the character. I do know his ultimate journey which is a very interesting one that I look forward to playing out. I have felt a little lonely and sad and isolated in my 19th century world with my horse and the horse doesn’t even last. He’s dead within minutes. They were coming up to me like, “can you ride?” Did I need to really ride? You killed my horse within five minutes! Actually, I’ve only just got to meet these people here. It’s terrible. I was insolation like some sort of quarantine up in the desert. I look forward to hopefully seeing a bit more of them.
Negga:
Do you? Really? After today?
McTavish:
Well, I have to say that because they’re here.
Press:
Dominic, has there been anything you’ve seen that you were shocked that Jesse was capable of like what happened to Arseface?
Cooper:
I can’t believe he was capable of doing it. Shocked by how calm he is after doing such a terrible thing. But I think it was instinct and that’s the danger in him. That’s what’s bubbling under the surface all the time. That’s what he’s surpressing. That’s why he’s not controlling this power as well as he should be. His instinct was just to shout. He absolutely didn’t mean to do it, but he did it. His pure aggression and violence popped out. Which everyone is capable every now and then, but it was his lack of remorse immediately afterwards and the calm nature with which he dealt with the thoughts of what he had done in his head and that they didn’t seem to have much impact on him. He’s capable of doing that and a lot more, and he should be that dark. That’s why I was completely absorbed by him and to play him. I think he’s extraordinary, but he’s a very flawed person.
McTavish:
I think its a very interesting theme with all the characters. This struggling to surpress their true natures as the show progresses. It’s that trying to keep the darkness that we all carry around with us–trying to keep that in check. I think its very interesting that Garth (Ennis) has explored that so thoroughly in these books.
Press:
Can each of you talk about what in your character you can relate to the most and what surprised you the most about your characters?
Gilgun:
Everything. I’m a drug addict, you know what I mean?
Colletti:
He’s very human, and he’s trying to make right some things. I think at the end of the day he’s made mistakes, and we’re learning more about that, but at the end of the day he’s just trying to be a good person and trying to do what’s right, and I thought that was a very admirable quality. I think its interesting that Arseface, the character who blew his face off with a shotgun is the somehow the most moral character in the show in a lot of ways.
McTavish:
I really love my guns, but I was really surprised at how heavy they were. That was a shock. But I got over that and continued.
Gilgun:
It’s given him carpal tunnel. Terrible wrists.
McTavish:
These are the problems we have to deal with. I love the fact that he’s trying to be a good family man. That’s what I really love–the beginning of that story. Why he becomes who he becomes. That’s what’s really interesting about him. But then the level to which he goes to, there’s some shocking things, and I think its interesting that Dominic talks about it as well. It’s very rare that you read something, and I have a very high tolerance for a lot of stuff, but you read something in a script, and you’re shocked.You go, “wow, I’m going to do that?” That’s what I find so interesting–the fine edge the show walks.
Press:
Cassidy…I mean Joseph…
Gilgun:
Happens a lot, don’t worry.
Press:
Why do you think Cassidy becomes such good friends so quickly with Jesse, who is a complete stranger?
Gilgun:
I think that Cassidy sees a little bit of himself in Jesse. Jesse’s someone who is seeking redemption. I think all them kind of are. And I think that Cassidy sees this guy…I mean, he’s an old man, Cass. 119 I think he is. He’s f$@king sick of it. But he sees this kid in front of him who’s having a stab at making it right, and more than anything he’s going to be interested in watching that unfold. He’s got the time. They’re all going to f$@k off an die. Everybody dies and leaves him in the end anyway, but for the first time in a long while, this is his opportunity to settle and feel wanted and needed. Everybody needs someone. I hope that answered your question. I’m shit. My head’s like a sieve. I learn nothing. Very tired. That’s it.
Press:
Working on a show like this, have you questioned your own views on faith?
Gilgun:
It’s not made me question faith–I still think it’s trouble.
Negga:
I think the show challenges you to think about your concept of the nature of good and evil. I feel like for Tulip, what’s interesting to me about her, is that sometimes the most interesting thing about human beings is that which you do not know and how much of life we go through sort of acquiring armor and shield because of our baggage and how much we show to the world. And much braver that can be. And that we can encourage a world that allows our modern religion to be more accepting rather than holding everyone up to these impossible ideals and expectations. Because that’s a huge pressure to put on people. These characters, this group of misfits, its not that you forgive them their mistakes, but you empathize with them and sympathize with them.
Cooper:
Raising the question and not having opinions on it is what’s been key. It’s been pretty well received in that world. No one’s seemed to have trouble with it. I think that’s because just raising the question and getting people talking about it in this incredibly tough time that we’re living though in the world. This chaos that we’re living through. People are questioning their faith and their belief in what on Earth’s going on.
Gilgun:
And I think its an example of how the new generation is not taking things so damned seriously. Something like Preacher, its not like we’re taking a stand. It’s show. It’s television. If you don’t want to watch it, don’t. Don’t watch that shit, watch something else. I think that’s pretty interesting. Because I was kind of expecting a bit of trouble. There’s always some asshole somewhere with a problem who’s freaked out or offended somehow. I had a guy in the hotel tell me, “stop swearing.” I said, “why’s that?” He said, “its making me anxious.” I said, “you’re f$@ked dude. If swearing makes you anxious, you’re already f$@ked.”
Negga:
It was never Seth and Ethan’s intention to instruct people on how to think. It’s not bludgeoning you over the head with ideas, its generating a conversation. It’s made me think about faith, god, having private conversations with onesself about the world. And it does so with a vital ingredient–humans.
McTavish:
It was the same when I read the books–the same feeling of being surprised constantly and stimulated by what was happening. It was unpredictable, and I loved that about them. That you turn to the next page, and you didn’t see it coming.
Press:
Dominic and Ruth, you’ve both worked on other comic book shows. Can you talk about the similarities and differences between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D./Agent Carter and Preacher?
Cooper:
They feel very different.
Negga:
Preacher is definitely grittier and darker. It’s such a vast and varied genre that you can have something like S.H.I.E.L.D. but you can also have a strange, supernatural world that’s bonkers. It’s a very different approach.
Cooper:
It feels like a completely different job and completely separate roles. I don’t know if I can compare them even though they were both comic books. It couldn’t be more different–Jesse and Howard Stark–they’re worlds apart. They were both equally enjoyable to play though. What’s been really great about this is the dialog and being able to sit around and just have a chat. Being able to have a conversation and learn about the characters has been very enjoyable for me in a world that’s often propelled by so many action sequences which are also fun.
Negga:
I do see similarities between Reina and Tulip. They’re both broken people with difficult childhoods who are seeking something. They build up these sort of calluses that hide someone very vulnerable.
GeekDad:
Speaking of assholes and representation and diversity, we’re seeing a lot of race and gender swapping on screen like Ghostbusters, Idris lba in The Dark Tower, and of course, Tulip. And there always seem to be angry assholes complaining about it. How do you deal with the negativity?
Gilgun:
Said like a true genius.
Negga:
I don’t engage with it. It does depress me, and… I read what happened with Leslie Jones and it just makes me weep for humanity. We have to catch up with the time. We cannot stay small-minded and narrow and insular. We have to progress. I don’t want those people to attack my positivity so I’m not on Facebook. I’m not on Twitter.
Gilgun:
It just gets you down, man. It’s f$@king 2016. There is this percentage of people that just have to find a problem with something.
McTavish:
I think they always existed but now they have a voice. They have a pulpit to stand on, and we all have to listen. In days when you would just hang out in bars, that kind of an opinion would just be shouted down. If somebody spoke to someone like that, they’d either get punched or, “shut up, its your round now.” Now I think a lot of that conversation has ended. You hear all this noise but there’s no conversation happening. It’s just people shouting into the wind.
Gilgun:
It’s people who want to be heard but have nothing to talk about so they look for something f$@king irritating. There’s tons of shit that irritates me but I won’t go jump on social media to talk about it. Who gives a f$@k what you think? I bet your family is sick of you, you know what I mean? That’s why you’re on the f$@king Internet. That’s why you’re doing it.
Press:
How are you enjoying your first convention?
Gilgun:
You can’t believe how lucky you feel as an actor. Honestly, doing all this and speaking to you people it’s a big deal. My hands are all clammy, and I’m terrified–just wanting to be liked. It has just been the biggest adventure. I’ve been in the sea for the first time and could stay in it! There weren’t turds in it or anything. Where I live, you go in the sea, you can come out with feline AIDS. Me and Dominic got told off by a lifeguard. We were only there five minutes and got told off four times coming on quads and that. “Put the cones down! You can’t swim near the stingrays!”
McTavish:
From the fan and the actor point of view, everyone’s just very happy. There’s a lot of joy that bubbles around this convention center and beyond. People aren’t walking around with that cynicism that you find in day to day life. It’s quite a relief.
Colletti:
And it’s not theater where you kind of have an immediate reaction. A lot of times we’re kind of in this bubble where we’re shooting in Albuquerque or Santa Fe in the desert in the middle of nowhere, and you do this work and go back home and watch the show and maybe see some stuff on Twitter. But then coming here where you really get to see the fans reacting and its a very delayed reaction. It makes the hardwork that you do very worth it.

After the press conference I was able to thank Negga for continuing to portray such strong women that I can be happy to show my daughter when she grows up. I also failed at being a fanboy–instead of taking a picture with Negga, I showed her a photo of my daughter.

Are you enjoying Preacher? Season two cannot get here soon enough for me.

Get the Official GeekDad Books!