If you thought Season 2 of Preacher was out there, Season 3 may just send you running for the brain bleach. And that's totally fine with Preacher showrunner and co-creator Sam Catlin. That's not to say Catlin wants to send you running, but he also knows Preacher can cross the line– – and worries about those of us who haven't had that line crossed...yet.
SYFY WIRE spoke with Catlin ahead of the new season, during which we discussed the upcoming drama, the nature of heroes, and more.
Season 3, we know we’re going to Angelville. We know Grandma’s coming. Can you give us a little bit of a preview of Season 3 and what we’re gonna run into in Angelville? Just a little bit about what’s going on there?
Angelville is sort of like the dragon left to be slayed from Jesse’s childhood. If Jesse has a dark side these are the people that sort of gave it to him or utilized it or brought it most out in him. It’s really his most personal story yet. In a lot of ways, Grandma is his most formidable adversary. She’s not a supernatural killer like the Saint or anything like that, but she really knows where all his buttons are. Season 3 is really about how he escapes from the ghosts of his past. It’s kind of true for all 3 of the major characters. How do they escape their name, where they came from, who they are, what is family, who is the best family, can family be something other than the people who raised you?
It’s also a slow running prison break. How’s Jesse gonna get out from Angelville? That’s sort of the main story, how does Jesse escape Grandma?
Audiences love to see anti-heroes. Is something people are getting more drawn to or do you think it’s something people have always been drawn to?
I feel like Jesse this year is becoming less of an anti-hero. He’s sort of been his own worst enemy for the first two seasons in a lot of ways. This year he’s sort of... becoming more of a heroic character for us. I think the audience will have more investment in wanting what Jesse wants this year. He’s up against some pretty horrible people and I think we’re gonna want him to get the best of them.
In terms of the larger question, "Do people always like anti-heroes?" people have always liked villains. Yeah. My favorite movie is The Godfather. There’s something about maybe living out our darkest instincts through somebody else so we can get all the pleasure of breaking bad without actually getting any of the consequences. There have always been characters that people have responded to. Anti-heroes.
Jesse’s done some really terrible things over his life. Same with Cassidy and Tulip. Yet they’re always trying to be better in some way. Do you think it’s that idea that no matter how bad you might be there’s a part of you that’s always gonna try and do good, that’s hopeful?
I guess maybe that’s what makes them not be just straight-up villains. Jesse, in particular, has introspection and he’s trying to be a better person and all that and he still acts badly but, yeah. I think people just like characters that are complicated. I don’t even know if anti-hero is the right term anymore. People like complex characters on television. There’s a lot of different facets to them and to me I feel like that’s what we’re seeing more and more of.
I don’t even really know entirely anymore what an anti-hero is. There’s a lot of crime and violence in the show, all our characters are caught up in it. They do bad s**t and they do good s**t and hopefully, in the end, people still identify and root for them. Hopefully, it’s just complicated characters.
You have managed to walk right up to the line and you even dance on it but you don’t go over, at least for me. I wonder how you manage to keep things, just crazy enough without going full bore [and] pushing people away.
Well, I’m sure we have. I’m sure people’s lines are drawn in different places. I’m happy to hear we haven’t crossed your line. I don’t know, I think we’re always surprised by what people are shocked by and not shocked by. The comic is totally insane and super violent. I think it’s a sorry state of affairs to be honest if there’s anyone out there that feels that we haven’t crossed those lines.
Yeah, that’s the world we live in.
I understand what you’re talking about. We try to always keep the show not just crazy, crazy, over the top all the time. We try to mix it up and have it play all these different genres. But it crosses a line for a lot of people. Just like the comic did.
Well now I’m worried, but okay.
Yeah, there’s something wrong with you.
Your casting is really eclectic. I rarely see standard big name actors... it’s not a guest star of the week sort of thing. They’ve all done really interesting work but there aren’t any instantly recognizable names. I’m wondering if that’s deliberate. Or how your casting process works. It’s amazing the people you get.
I don’t know if it’s deliberate. I think there are times when the actors that are suggested that we deal with are distracting because they’re too big a star, or they’re known too much for some other thing. But usually it's the people that just gave the best auditions. Jackie’s audition — it’s a really tough sort of acting style, you have to be broad but also grounded. It’s just hard.
There’s been a lot of really good actors that have auditioned for us but haven’t quite gotten the tone. It’s not usually that we have a lot of choices for the people we cast. Usually, only one or two people when we audition a role nail it. So definitely Pip, there was just no one else even close. We somehow just got the tone of it in Jackie and Colin Cunningham, and all the people we have. So it’s not usually like we have a lot of choices, I mean we do, but it’s limited in the auditions, the people who seem to get the weird tone of the show.
This is going way back. You did an interview with Screen Crush and talked about the controversial topic for religious conservatives and if you were worried about the backlash. At the time you said you were disappointed, that you were waiting for the backlash. You thought the Republicans were gonna come after you, you were waiting for religious groups to come after you,
Oh yeah, I thought my kids were gonna get targeted at school.
Did any of that happen?
It’s so funny about the things that upset people and the things that don’t. There was a lot of backlash last year when we had Jesus having sex. Like really good sex. That was a thing that upset Sarah Palin and people like that. But in terms of violence and all that, this world is so screwed up right now and so absurd and obscene, that it’s obvious people are willing to put up with much more offensive stuff than they were able to four, five, six years ago.
Obviously our intent isn’t to offend people just for the sake of offending people. We want to create a fun show that’s a road trip and do justice to our source material.