The legendary Preacher graphic novels of Garth Ennis and the late Steve Dillon have been brought to vivid life on AMC by the producing pair of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. With Season 3 coming up in less than two weeks, SYFY WIRE recently joined a conference call with the developing duo, previewing the new season that begins right where Season 2 left off.
Those who are up to date with the series will recall that Tulip (Ruth Negga) has fallen to the hands of Featherstone (Julie Lee Emery) and Hoover (Malcolm Barrett), with Jesse (Dominic Cooper) regrettably needing to turn to his grandmother for help. But it will come at the steepest price. Meanwhile, the Grail, led by Herr Starr (Pip Torrens) has stolen Jesse’s soul with Genesis; Arseface (Ian Colletti), and Hitler (Noah Taylor) have escaped hell; the Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish) is at the bottom of a swamp; and God is still out there, skirting his responsibilities.
Each season has been an exercise in wish fulfillment for Goldberg and Rogen, who have been fans of the comic book since they were in high school. And Season 3 will feature more of the same, including the fan-favorite characters of Jesse’s wheelchair-bound grandmother, Marie L’Angelle (Betty Buckley) and her henchmen, Jody (Jeremy Childs) and TC (Colin Cunningham), as the series delves into Jesse’s cruel and unforgiving upbringing, and how he became a preacher.
“These people are psychopaths and they’re terrifying,” said Goldberg. “It’s a very fun and different thing to tackle. Getting into the characters that Garth created [is what’s most exciting] and these are three of the best ones.”
This is a crucial story in the comic and the television series, as we peer into Jesse's upbringing when he is orphaned and forced to be raised by his grandmother and endure the torture of her henchmen Jody and TC. But the show's creators couldn't reach for this story too early. It was simply too crazy to explain to new viewers.
Goldberg explained that in the comic, Ennis needed to keep the pedal floored so that readers couldn't let up, and so that DC Comics would want more of the comic. Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones proved that slow burns were entertaining and worked for television, so they didn't want to overwhelm the viewers with too much too soon.
"In drafting the course of the show," said Goldberg. "We all knew that this swamp stuff was where the show was going to jump up to the next level."
So how are they planning on deconstructing the Angelville story on the show? In the comic, Jesse's grandmother, Marie L'Angelle, is a religious fanatic, but we don't see much outside of Jesse's traumatic experience.
"A question arose when you see Marie L’Angelle in the comic books. It was like Spooky House in the bayou, you don’t ask a lot of questions, but since we’re bringing it to the real world, [we decided to ask them]," said Rogen. "What do these people do? What do these people do all day? [Laughs] Do they have jobs? Do they hike? How does it work? As soon as we started having that conversation, we realized there was a lot of opportunity to build out the mythology of Angelville, find out what they actually do, and whether or not people do the same thing and how they view those people?"
"In the comics, they're great characters," Goldberg added. "But on a show, there's more face time and you need to round those characters out more and give them hopes and dreams of their own."
Betty Buckley (Split) plays the titular role of Marie L'Angelle and she's going to thrill viewers with her portrayal. As will Jeremy Childs (Nashville) who plays Jody and Colin Cunninham (Falling Skies) who both find ways to give a soul to two of Jesse's nightmares in the comics. Fans may be surprised to find Cunningham's portrayal of TV as charming... at least at the start. Meanwhile, Childs is not nearly as physically jacked as Jody appears in the comics but that makes him more real and honestly, more frightening because he is every bit as hard to read, relentless, and threatening.
The Love Triangle
It may appear that Preacher is settling in Angelville for the entirety of the new season, but it will move around, similarly, if not more so than Season 2. From a story standpoint, “Jesse needs help. Tulip has to help him as opposed to last season, when it was the opposite of that dynamic," said Rogen.
“The comics have a lot of Jesse saving Tulip and Jesse telling Tulip to not do stuff because it’s too dangerous, then he’s going to do it. [Laughs] It felt like stuff that could be improved on and allowed us to give each character more opportunity, to be active, to be heroic and make decisions and most of the changes come from that type of thinking,” continued Rogen. “How do we give these characters more agency and control over their actions? Especially with Tulip and Jesse. He’s the one that’s stuck this season. So she’s trying to get him out of this situation, with his help. They’re really working together, as opposed to one being helpless and one saving the other.”
Tulip comes out of purgatory a more focused woman. "She’s f***ing tired of people messing with her," explains Goldberg. "She’s not going to be anyone’s pawn or let anyone manipulate her. She’s not going to follow Jesse and is going to kick a lot of ass doing so."
Where does that leave Cassidy, who is the odd man out? Cassidy has fallen for his best friend’s girl and won’t take no for an answer. The love triangle is still a big part of the story and the central friendship shared between the three leads, but thankfully, it’s not the only story in store for Cassidy.
Cassidy goes on his own little vampire-based side journey for a great portion of the season to a fan-favorite story. It’s bizarrely hilarious, and incredibly crazy and gives Cassidy and Joe Gilgun a chance to shine.
“Les Enfant Du Sang,” Rogen revealed, while unable to contain his glee. “That was always one of my favorite parts of the comic. In the show, it’s as crazy as you would hope.”
While the focus shifts onto Jesse's family, the Grail will continue to be the most powerful organization and will keep Jesus' offspring in hiding as they try to seduce Jesse in becoming their Messiah. Like Jody and TC, Featherstone continues to be fleshed out as a real threat, contrary to her treatment in the comics. Julie Emery's ability to play several different people made it a reality.
"Featherstone is an adept agent and a true believer, she truly feels for Herr Starr," said Goldberg. "The idea that Featherstone can truly manipulate, and con the con artists themselves allowed her to occupy a three-dimensional space and become more interesting."
Packing in the Sausage
Goldberg also hinted that at least five to six stories from the comics will work their way into Season 3. Again following the model of Breaking Bad, they're packing in more story and ramping up the pace so that more happens in one episode of Preacher than you expect.
Viewers will also be introduced to Allfather D’Aronique, the bulimic and morbidly obese 112th head of the Grail. That’s right, Major Herr Starr answers to someone. As one of the major adversaries in the series, he is sure to be one of the lightning rods for the show’s protesters. But fear not, Goldberg assured fans of the comic that all of his gross glory will be honored.
“I can promise that with the Allfather, it’s intense, it’s crazy, and if you’re a fan of the comics, you’re not going to think we pulled any punches. How the f*** did they think of this s***?" said Goldberg. "Well, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon came up with it and we’re just bringing it to life.”
Season 3 of Preacher hits the road again on June 24, at 10/9 p.m. CT.