We Take Confession from the Preacher Cast

The new AMC series Preacher is awesome. I have never read the comics, but after seeing the first episode ahead of this year’s WonderCon, I went home and ordered the whole series of comic books. The general consensus I heard among fans of the comic about the show is, “The show is great, but it is very different from the comic book.”

Preacher showrunner Sam Catlin admits that the most challenging part of launching the show based on the comic book was where to begin, in terms of the story. “The spirit of [the comic] is in the show from the beginning. That crazy, Garth Ennis world. We changed some things narratively from where we begin, but hopefully the world is recognizable as ‘Preacher.'”

For those who don’t know, the studio describes Preacher as “a supernatural, twisted and darkly comedic drama that follows a West Texas preacher named Jesse Custer, who is inhabited by an entity and develops a highly unconventional power. Along with his ex-girlfriend Tulip, Jesse and an Irish vagabond named Cassidy come together and when they do, trouble seems to follow them wherever they go.” For those who are familiar with Preacher, that description does not do it justice.

“It’s a world where anything can happen,” says Sam Catlin, showrunner for Preacher. “There’s god, there’s angels, there’s vampires, there’s cowboys, there’s the South of France, there’s cults. It has been so liberating!

“When I first read [the comic], I didn’t think we could do it as a TV show, because it starts like a bat out of hell and it doesn’t really slow down,” Catlin continues. “The pace of the comic books just isn’t a television pace. We figured out how great and crazy the universe of ‘Preacher’ could be in a [single] location, and let the trouble come to them in certain ways. By the end of this season I feel like we are just scratching the surface of the stories we can get to.”

Dominic Cooper plays Jesse Custer, the titular preacher. The British actor, probably best known for his role as Howard Stark (Tony’s dad) in the Marvel Universe, admits that he was worried about playing a Texan. “Jesse is unlike any other character I’ve ever played in his stillness and darkness. I have no real understanding of the size of Texas; it is bigger than the country I grew up in!” The show shoots in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Cooper has wanted to take a field trip to rural west Texas, but hasn’t gotten the chance. “I just kept reading the comic over and over, to try to get an understanding of what that must be like.”

Ruth Negga plays Tulip, Jesse’s hot-tempered ex-girlfriend. Despite the action and violence in the comic book, she never had any reservations about taking the role. “I admire her. I completely fell in love with her,” says Negga. She does admit she was worried that she would get “vitriol” from the ardent fan base because Tulip in the comic book is white and blonde. So far she hasn’t faced any of that, but she also admits she doesn’t engage in social media. “It scares me a lot!” Catlin says that race will have to play into the story. “She’s black and living in west Texas. It will come up when it comes up. I don’t think she thinks of herself as African-American; she thinks of herself as Tulip.”

“Everything is on Tulip’s terms,” Negga continues. “She sees the world through her kaleidoscope. She has super-strong morals, but they’re not maybe your morals. She has a childish idea of justice, and I don’t mean that in a derogatory way…her idea of the world is so straight-forward.” Her biggest challenge is keeping Tulip anchored in reality. “She is so delicious, the tendency is to dive in and make her big.” She believes that Tulip would always stand up for the underdog because she is the ultimate underdog.

Those familiar with the Preacher comic book know there is a lot of violence; that is the world that Preacher occupies. Some have been concerned that the show would be watered down to be safe for basic cable. Catlin says that AMC has been great with the sex and violence. “This isn’t ‘basic cable ‘Preacher’; this is ‘Preacher,'” he insists. He does, however, admit that there is one sequence towards the end of the season that is still “under discussion.” “It’s pretty f*cked up,” he says of the sequence. Of course, he can’t tell us what it is.

Preacher premieres on May 22nd on AMC.