By Deanna Destito
The end may be nigh but it’s just the beginning for fans of the 1990 Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett dark comedy novel turned television series about the end of the world. Good Omens’ NYCC ‘18 panel at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Saturday gave the packed house a glimpse at a few exciting scenes from the upcoming six-part show set to debut on Amazon Video in 2019. Along with a sneak preview, fans were also treated to a teaser trailer filled with tantalizing snippets of David Tennant’s demon Crowley and Michael Sheen’s angel Aziraphale.
When the antichrist goes missing but the apocalypse is still on schedule, it’s up to Crowley and Aziraphale to locate the missing boy and stop End of Days. The two are especially motivated because both have grown quite fond of living on earth.
Gaiman serves as writer and showrunner, with Douglas Mackinnon assuming directorial duties. The latter couldn’t help but say yes to joining the project.
“I got the script and I was kinda cautious. I said I’ll give it a read. I’m a really bad reader, a slow reader,” he explains. “So an hour later I was emailing, going ‘this is mine.’ It was a world that’s just amazing, you can’t turn it down.”
Gaiman shared a touching story about how bringing the novel to life was a dying wish for the late Pratchett.
“The late Sir Terry Pratchett and I wrote the novel almost 30 years ago,” he says. “We failed to get a movie made almost immediately. We kept failing to get movies made. Eventually we just handed it over to Terry Gilliam who failed to get movies made for years. And then a few years ago Terry [Pratchett] and I thought it might be a really good idea to try it as television…and then Terry asked me if I would write it. He’d never asked me for anything. We’d been friends for about 35 years. And he sent me a letter saying ‘you have to do this because I don’t have very long to live and I want to see it before the lights go out.’ And then he died much, much faster than any of us expected. Which meant I sat down to write the script for episode 1 shortly after he died. And now it was a last request and I’ve seen it through.”
The entire panel agreed that if they weren’t fans of Gaiman’s work before signing on, they are now. Sheen in particular expressed his love of the author’s storytelling. “Really I should be over there not here,” the actor said pointing to the audience. “Because I’m a fan. I became a fan of Neil’s through reading Sandman, and Good Omens came out whilst I was at drama school. Went out. Bought it. Read it. Read all of Terry’s books. Read everything by Neil.”
Tennant chimed in, “I didn’t know this book. I don’t know how I didn’t know this book. Because this is exactly the sort of book I would have loved. I’d have been like Michael. This is magnificent. What a fantastic character. This is delicious.”
The unlikely friendship between Sheen and Tennant’s characters is such a critical component of the story, and the two actors displayed their chemistry on stage. When asked who would win, an angel or a demon, Tennant crooned, they work better together.
Jon Hamm stole the show with his jabs at fellow cast mates, specifically Tennant and his Dr. Who past. Hamm’s character in the show, Gabriel, only appears briefly in the source material but got a screen-time boost. Gaiman drew from content that was supposed to appear in a sequel to the book Gaiman and Pratchett were planning.
Also on the panel was Miranda Richardson who plays Madame Tracy. The actress says she chose the role because of the split personality. “I’m somehow drawn to that. To play more than one character because I’m greedy. I’m my own double act in this.”
The panel (moderated by surprise guest Whoopi Goldberg) drew fans from all over the world, with followers of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett travelling from as far as France to hear the writer and cast talk about the new limited series. Fans were also treated to Queen’s music upon entering and even got to play a quick game of Queen karaoke. The English classic rock band’s music is a running joke in the film. Gaiman explains:
“Terry Pratchett and I had a joke before either of us started writing the book. We both noticed that despite the fact that we couldn’t remember having ever bought Queen’s Greatest Hits it was there in the car. So we just started our theory that any cassette left in the car long enough turned into the Best of Queen.”
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