On Friday, in a small back meeting room of the Los Angeles Convention Center we talked for a few minutes with the executive producer Sam Catlin from AMC’s Preacher along with Jesse Custer and Tulip O’Hare themselves Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga.
Along with development from Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, executive producer Sam Catlin knows the brilliance and volatility of the material the team has with Preacher. With this being Catlin’s first adaptation the producer was unsure of how to navigate the trepidatious minefield of comic book properties. When first approached with the comic, he told Evan and Seth “I don’t know how you make that a TV show, it’s an amazing comic book. If we were to make the comic book of Preacher it would be $4-500 million, it would be unproduceable. So how do we make a show that is a TV show but pushes the boundaries without feeling like Preacher light or Preacher TV.” For the team the answer was to figure out where their starting point was and where it could go. Catlin pointed out the first deviation point would be Jesse Custer himself.
In the book, Jesse Custer is an already disillusioned preacher on the out with his faith. AMC’s show will take a little bit longer of a route. Here Jesse doesn’t want to give up on God right away. Catlin described Custer in the show as a “spiritual Sheriff” to the town of Anvil Texas. It’s a good place to start AMC’s version of this classic story. Much like Gotham to Batman, the town will be a character in this show and be among many of Jesse’s antagonists. That doesn’t mean the show will be firmly planted in Texas. Team Preacher has plans for the various locations and to make some of their own, but season one paints who Jesse Custer is by very much using his hometown.
When it comes to having Ruth Negga play Tulip; even though race wasn’t consideration, the show won’t shy away from choosing to have the Irish Ethiopian actress play a caucasian role. In fact it’s quite the opposite with the team seeing this casting as an opportunity to hit beats about just how racist the south can be. In AMC’s Preacher, Tulip is a gun-for-hire guardian with a view of the world that’s all her own. Ruth doesn’t see the Tulip in the comics as being any different from her own. In her own words, “the only difference is I have small boobs and I don’t have blond hair”. For any other show a change like this could be a point of indifference on the internet but here everything about it works in the show’s favor. Imagine what kind of story you could tell with Jesse’s beyond racist grandmother seeing this mixed couple. One side note; it was hinted that season one would see the grandmother arc.
As far as Dominic Cooper playing the role of the southern redneck preacher Jesse Custer; after watching the pilot, the studio could not have cast a better actor for the role. As Custer, Dominic is a perfectly mixed cocktail of sadness, redneck, and charm. When you look at Jesse Custer on screen you can absolutely tell that all the internal conflicts the character has are always buzzing like flies around sh*t. The British born actor comes from such a different place compared to the rural backdrop of Preacher, one might have thought he would have looked at hours of Big Rig Bounty Hunters or Moonshiners to get his inspirations for Custer’s spot on accent. While being exposed to American cinema as a youth probably helped Cooper form his idea of Jesse Custer most of what went into his portrayl of the character came from reading the books over-and-over until everything he needed seeped in. Cooper put it to us this way, “It’s unlike any other character I’ve played in his stillness and his darkness.” He’s very adamant about how much he loves the role and Garth Ennis story that he’s willing to let this part be one that defines his career.
When AMC’s Preacher makes its debut on May 22, the show will have a unique position that few have had before. This is a show in which if its not offending a new group of people every week it isn’t doing it right and it absolutely will. Catlin fully acknowledged there would be christians who throw their televisions out the window but there would be a lot of christians who do like it. He would go on to say, “Jesse’s angry at God and looking for answers, that’s pretty universal.”
We won’t talk about spoilers or a full review of Preacher on AMC just yet. However, there’s no two sides of the fence here. Whether you’ve read the books or are never heard of this before; Preacher is for you. All the violence, depravity, sexuality, deep subtext that defined Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s epic series is on the screen. A world bound by the guidelines of source material finds a way to write its own ticket and entertain those who hold the work in highest regard. AMC could have another Walking Dead sized hit on their hands.
You’re going to hell if watch Preacher. You’re going to hell if you don’t watch Preacher. Enjoy the ride by watching Preacher. (AMC that quote is ready for any and all DVD releases)