Amazon Prime Video is set to release the much-anticipated new series, Good Omens, on May 31, 2019. Good Omens is based on the novel by Neil Gaiman and has the critically acclaimed author on board as showrunner, writer, and executive producer. David Tennant and Michael Sheen lead the cast that includes Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson, Michael McKean, and Adria Arjona. And in a bit of inspired casting, two-time Oscar winner Frances McDormand (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Fargo) provides the voice of God.
The Good Omens plot, courtesy of Amazon: “The End of the World is coming, which means a fussy Angel (Sheen) and a loose-living Demon (Tennant) who’ve become overly fond of life on Earth are forced to form an unlikely alliance to stop Armageddon. But they have lost the Antichrist, an 11-year-old boy unaware he’s meant to bring upon the end of days, forcing them to embark on an adventure to find him and save the world before it’s too late.”
Jon Hamm (“Gabriel”) and Miranda Richardson (“Madame Tracy”) were teamed up to discuss the series at the New York Comic Con. During our roundtable interview, Hamm and Richardson talked about their characters and working with Neil Gaiman.
What’s it like to delve into Neil Gaiman’s world?
Miranda Richardson: “Heaven…and hell!”
Jon Hamm: “I see what you did there.”
Miranda Richardson: “I mean, I love all that stuff. I’m an escapist baby anyway, but what’s nice about this is yes, it is an extraordinary world but it’s also a very human, humane world. So, for actors that’s fantastic because it’s 3D. You know, it’s something to latch onto. The scripts are lovely and everything is there. They feed your imagination and it’s fantastic to have him there as showrunner – a very, very kind showrunner – and our lovely Douglas Mackinnon who is super relaxed for a man in charge.”
Jon Hamm: “As you know, his storytelling and his world-building are so specific and detailed, and yet so imaginative and original that you feel very well taken care of. The map is laid out very specifically for you. And it’s just fun.
As Miranda was saying, there is an element of humanity and connection and real emotion there, but it’s also just fun to get to play in that. You must have felt that way with the Harry Potter world too.”
Miranda Richardson: “Do you know what? I did, but less so because it felt more unwieldy in some strange way. And also being trapped in Leavesden’s studios wasn’t the best. We got to move around here, so that was nice.”
What do you find to be the most fun part of Good Omens?
Jon Hamm: “Playing kind of just an idiot is fun for me. The person whose confidence is so misplaced and yet they don’t care.”
Did anyone in real life inspire you?
Jon Hamm: (Smiling) “Well, I think we can all identify with people who are so confident in their opinions and yet are so deeply wrong. I don’t need to point out that there may be a few people from present day that fit that description. But yeah, no, that part of it was really fun. And also, it was fun to be able to play a thing that wasn’t from the book, really. He was mentioned in the book, but you never really see him or have a scene with him. Then to have Neil there to shepherd it along if any questions exist…”
Miranda Richardson: “He could always answer your question.”
Jon Hamm: “He obviously knows the book like the back of his hand because he wrote it with the back of his hand…the front of his hands.”
What were the challenges of tackling these characters?
Jon Hamm: “it’s always a challenge coming to anything. There’s always that terror of the first day of school. But also getting a chance for me… I worked in London extensively, over in the U.K. extensively, and I really enjoy it. But for me to get the chance to work with not only Miranda but Michael (Sheen), David (Tennant), Michael McKean, and everyone else who was involved with this was just… It wasn’t necessarily intimating because you know you’re surrounded by good people and talented people, but it sure was exciting.”
Because he doesn’t have scenes in the book, how is he integrated into the story? How much do we get to see you character?
Jon Hamm: “A lot. I mean, I kind of pop in and out. I think Neil was saying I’m in every episode, but I do sort of pop in and pop out. I’m the guy who keeps poking Michael in the back saying, ‘Hey, you were meant to do this thing. Do it,’ with a big smile on my face and a hearty slap on the back.”
Any inspiration from like an Office Space-type boss?
Jon Hamm: (Laughing) “Yeah. Lumbergh. Not really, but there is something like that guy.”
What do you like about Madame Tracy?
Miranda Richardson: “I feel she’s a compassionate, humane person. There’s no judgement there. I think she truly does see people. I think she sees what they need and she would like to think that she can help, as they say. It’s usually a gentleman but in her capacity as a medium then it’s whoever comes to her. She’s like a sort of therapist in a way, without calling herself that. She’s making a living. I like that she’s just getting on with it. She doesn’t turn anyone away.”
And how is Neil Gaiman behind the scenes?
Miranda Richardson: “Such a comfort, such a relief. He’s very maternal, isn’t he?”
Jon Hamm: “Yes.”
Miranda Richardson: “He’s so approachable and he’s enthusiastic and excited about everything. He has an answer for every question and it’s an answer, not the answer. He lets you play. He wants you to take it and run with it, which is really nice.”