Last season we saw Arseface, aka Eugene Root, vanish in the church after Jesse told him to go to Hell on AMC's Preacher. Well, after a long absence, Eugene's back in tonight's episode, and actor Ian Colletti promises in an exclusive interview with Syfy Wire, “Eugene's part of the fabric of Preacher, and it's going to get crazy this season.”
That's saying a lot considering the wild and crazy ride the series has taken us on so far. As for Eugene, who's about as unique a character as you'll find on TV, he's called Arseface because he tried to shoot himself and managed ending up with a face that looked like ... well, an arse.
Beware! Spoilers ahead!
In tonight's episode, "Damsels," we found out where Eugene is and we discovered what actually happened the day Eugene became Arseface.
Colletti (Mohawk), who's also a singer/songwriter, chatted with Syfy Wire about Eugene's return, about the day he and Tracy ended up on the wrong side of a shotgun, and that prosthetic.
What do you want to tell us about what we can look forward to from your character?
The last time we saw Eugene, he was sent to Hell by Jesse last season. And now there's consequences for that, and he's in Hell. Hell is a very real place in our universe. Eugene, a very good and moral character, has now found himself there, and he's going to come across some interesting characters that are going to play a big role in his journey.
What do you want to say about tonight's return?
It was hard to bite my tongue last season, because I think there wasn't much justice for Eugene. The only people we heard about his backstory from, besides the townspeoples' general hatred toward Eugene, was from Jesse, who said he had murdered this girl, Tracy. But at the point where Jesse said that, he was already going off the rails. After playing Eugene, I'm glad to see some justice that now people get to see the actual backstory of what really happened. That it's not as black and white as it may have seemed. I've said this all along. I really don't believe Eugene's a murderer, and I don't think he's as responsible as he thinks he is.
Who do you feel Eugene is?
I think Eugene is kind of the moral compass of the show. Last season, a lot of his relevance as a character coincided with Jesse in the sense that his importance as a character was that he could come to Jesse with these personal battles and his inner demons and he would share them with Jesse, but Jesse would often walk away, then having taken what Eugene said, and it kind of forced him to look inward and re-evaluate himself, which is an important part of his progression as a character.
But this season it will be a bit more about Eugene's own story and him facing his own demons and having to come to grips with who is he as a person, and is he bigger than his past. Does he deserve the circumstances that have been laid out in front of him, kind of in the same way Jesse has to ask himself those questions in the first season.
I think he thinks he deserved to go to Hell.
Definitely. One of Eugene's greatest characteristics, and also his tragic flaw, is his ability to empathize. He's such an empathetic character in his nature ... but he also takes responsibility for things that he shouldn't take responsibility for ... it's what allows him to be one of the few characters to take more responsibility than is necessary when a lot of these characters are doing these things and not taking any responsibility.
When you first got the role and realized what kind of character he was, what did you think? There's no one else like him on television.
I've always considered myself somewhat of a character actor, and something like this, that requires this level of physicality and the voice work and prosthetic work, as an actor was super exciting, and the idea of doing it was really thrilling. ... When I read the pilot and script, it was the best pilot I'd read all year, hands down. So I was dying to be a part of this, and I knew the people that'd be involved, and it seemed like it'd be such a great thing, and it really has been. I think Preacher has been so totally unique. It has such interesting characters and storylines in a golden age of television where there's so much TV, to make something that's actually unique and interesting and compelling television and something that sticks out is difficult to do. I feel very lucky to be part of it.
To be doing something like this and playing a character that I find as intriguing and multi-dimensional as this character is is a real pleasure ... I just feel so honored. This character has resonated so much with the people, and fans and people have really made a connection with him. One of my biggest goals as an actor was to try and make him a real human and empathetic character.
He even became bigger than any of us thought when it aired, and I think people just really empathized with him more than I thought they would. I was so glad as the show progressed. In the beginning, the reaction was, here was this guy with an arse on his face. But, by the end of it, there was actually very little talk about his appearance in anything I read. People writing about it, fans, it was about how much they loved the character, how they felt for him.
That prosthetic. I can't even imagine how difficult it is as an actor to have that on your face.
Yeah, that has absolutely been the biggest challenge. Prosthetic work is incredibly difficult, as I've been learning. It's a very thick, big, foam appliance. Every morning, to sit in the chair, and it takes two hours to glue it to my face and paint it on. It's very uncomfortable, 'cause when you have anything that's glued to your face for 12+ hours a day, you can't eat when you're wearing it. There's these kind of disgusting fluids that are coming out of your face and getting trapped and absorbed into the sponge and sitting there until it comes off, which is lovely. So, just physically, between not eating and to have that on your face, it can be draining. More so, honestly, than any other job I've ever had.
The prosthetic, which covers a lot of your face, would seem to be a handicap as an actor.
Yeah, there's a whole other aspect of it. I've found it's almost like you're puppeteering something on your face, is kind of the best way to explain it. It's very thick, and so I need to emote my face in a more exaggerated way to have it read as something through the mask. Something as little as a smile, I'm contorting my face in a way that looks completely unnatural if I just do it in the mirror without the mask on. But when I put the mask on, that's the shape I need to move my face ... and that's just one of several examples, but it's definitely been interesting, and in a lot of ways almost some sort of acting lesson class. Like, how do you communicate the subtext of this line? And without half of a face, it really forces me to focus on my eyes and trying to communicate through that because, in many ways, that's all I really have.
And, while they've used subtitles for Eugene, tell us about the speech pattern you've come up with.
I love doing my little voice work. A lot of times, the mask gets credit for what I do behind the mask. But a lot of it is the voice that I've come up with for the character that I created long before I put the mask on my face. So the mask helps in making the voice, but a lot of it I came up with based on what I've seen in the comic.
What's surprised you the most about your journey as Eugene?
I wasn't sure I expected people to totally feel for him in the way they have. I hoped that would be the case, but I wasn't sure. And this season, I think Eugene has now found himself in a place that is very much eat or be eaten, and he needs to adapt to survive. And I think that takes him down some roads that really push him and force him to ask serious moral questions about himself and about the people around him, and that will force the audience in turn to ask similar questions about Eugene. And I think, at the end of it, whatever happens, I think he's going to certainly have evolved as a character. Eugene has become a major part of the DNA of Preacher, and there's a lot more story to tell.
Why should someone watch?
I say this wholeheartedly: There's nothing else like it on television. I think the way it balances brutal violence but also hilarity is very unique to Preacher. And I really don't think there's anything else like it. I think it's a very special show, and it feels that way when we're making it ... this season, in my opinion, as a fan of the comics and a fan of the show, is going to be better than last season. It's crazier, it's darker, it's funnier, and it's going to be amazing.
Preacher airs on Monday nights at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.