By Therese Lacson
With the fourth and final season on our doorstep, the San Diego Comic-Con Preacher press conference was a mix of reflection and anticipation. Series stars Dominic Cooper (Jesse Custer), Ruth Negga (Tulip O’Hare), Mark Harelik (God), and Julie Ann Emery (Lara Featherstone) were on-site to discuss the ending of the AMC adaptation of Garth Ennis‘ and Steve Dillon‘s Vertigo=published comic book series Preacher.
While many shows could have easily stretched out the length of the story for more seasons, especially given the potential of the cast of characters, Cooper talked about the desire for a completed narrative over the desire to wander.
“This story needed to, as the comics did, have a beginning, a middle and an end. And [a way] to wrap it up,” he said. The final 10 episodes will give the series a definitive ending. Cooper added, “I think that they did what the people who love the comic books originally in the ’90s would want.”
Harelik, who plays God, appeared for the first time last season in a few iconic scenes opposite Tulip. Those moments plant the seeds of the Almighty’s intentions on earth.
“Without getting terribly specific,” Harelik teased, “I can say that God is manipulating everybody. He’s manipulating everybody for his own purposes because he wants them to either succeed at what they’re doing or think that they’re going to succeed and will fail at what they’re doing, which will allow something else to happen. He’s created this spider web. And as the episodes go by [in] the fourth season, you’ll see the effect of this spider web. And God has very specific intentions with Tulip, but they’re all wrapped up in his knowledge of her nature. And this is referred to in season three, as well as in season four, that he keeps calling her on her nature. So he sort of knows what she’s going to do in response to his request. The wild card in this is free will. And even God can’t control free will.”
The new season promises to be the biggest spectacle yet. And while we’re not really sure how they’re planning to top Hitler’s customer service Neo-Nazis busting him out of the Hell prison bus with a tank, we’re sure we’ll be taken on a wild ride before the end. Taking the filming to the Australian outback, the Preacher cast discussed some of the highs and lows of filming in an entirely new environment and in a new country.
“I think looking back over the comics again, the landscape was a huge part of it,” Cooper explained. “The [graphics, how they were] drawn, and the influence it had on the characters, and where those characters were from was a huge part [of the story]. And I think that they decided that the beauty of the Australian outback would be necessary [to] give it the vastness and the cinematic feel that Preacher deserved after this amount of time. We found a landscape which had both an urban aspect to it and, and the rural. And also I think, there’s nowhere like it.”
And despite time zones and not being able to reach the writer’s room immediately when they had questions, the location offered a level of nuance and texture that simply couldn’t be matched.
“The production values are off the chart this season,” Emery marveled.
“No expense was spared,” Cooper added, explaining that the finality of the series also allowed the producers and creators to push the extremes of the show even further. They could be as grotesque, as elaborate, as extreme was they wanted to. “I think that they dared go as possibly far as they could. And they really really did that.”
“They built the Alamo for a one day shoot,” said Harelik.
But, amidst the action and fight sequence and extreme scenes, the heart of the show hasn’t been neglected. “There’s no unfinished business, you understand the journey of each person and where they end up, and I think that that must have been a very hard task,” said Cooper.
For Tulip, whose arc last season centered around her free will and escaping her past, Negga was proud of her character for being able to overcome her past and the prejudice of the legacy of the O’Hares. She said, “The idea that you can outrun what is your past, [that] you don’t have to repeat the process. You can evolve. Progress. I think that was difficult for her. [She had] her insecurity; people passed her off as a failure, like, that’s what God uses against her. I think that she rejects that notion, and I’m very proud of her for doing that.”
Both haunted by the ghosts of their family and the past, we watched Jesse walk through his memories last season upon their return to Angelville. With his departure, having literally razed his past to the ground, Jesse might need God now more than ever.
“I think Jesse finally, with the help of God, realizes that he’s been following something that has no end,” Cooper mused, adding that Jesse will finally be able to release the guilt that he places on himself for his father’s death. “He has a huge disappointment in what he discovers, after this quest that’s gone on for so long, but, in fact, it finally makes him happy. You finally see a man content with who he is and where his life ends.”
With each passing episode, season four promises to raise the stakes and increase the tension. “None of the episodes take a breath this season, nothing settles down,” said Emery.
“Anybody who watches the two-episode premiere will have been injected with some highly addictive substance,” joked Harelik.
The final season of Preacher premieres Sunday, August 4 at 9/8c on AMC.