‘Preacher’ Season 2: Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, and Joseph Gilgun Interview

Preacher season 2 episode 3
Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare, and Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer in ‘Preacher’ season 2 episode 3 (Photo by Skip Bolen / AMC / Sony Pictures Television)

Comic Con fans got a panel with the cast of AMC’s Preacher and co-creator of the series Seth Rogen right in between episodes of the currently airing second season. The gang also met with the press for a Q&A including Rogen, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Graham McTavish, and Ian Colletti.

Season two of Preacher finds Jesse (Cooper), Tulip (Negga), and Cassidy (Gilgun) on the road. Meanwhile, Eugene (Colletti) is in Hell with Hitler (Noah Taylor) and the Saint of Killers (McTavish) is after our trio. Preacher airs Monday nights at 9pm on AMC.

Is there any hope for Cassidy and Tulip?

Joseph Gilgun: “Yeah, he’s like a turd that won’t flush, Cassidy. That relationship is constantly weigh, I don’t know what turds weigh. Anyway, yeah, he is waiting. He loves her. It’s unrequited love. It’s the worst feeling. I know the feeling. I think everyone’s had that at some stage and it’s really lonely. It’s a bloody shame. He wants to be honest. He wants to be honest with his friend as well about what he’s got. I don’t think Cassidy understands Jesse like Tulip does. She’s really seen that side of him where, I don’t know though. He loves her. He absolutely adores Tulip. He just wishes Jesse maybe appreciated her a little bit more as well.”

Ruth Negga: “The dynamic is interesting, isn’t it? I think those kind of male or female roles are reversed. He wants to be honest and have conversation, pour his heart out and have a night in and talk about his feeling. And Tulip’s like, ‘No, I don’t want to do that actually. I’d like to keep that compartmentalized somewhere else,’ which usually you don’t really see that, do you? Women portrayed as compartmentalizing their relationship. Tulip’s [feeling] is if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We don’t need to talk about that. I like that dynamic. That tension is very constant. It’s a constant theme. What I love about her is she doesn’t think it’s necessary to reveal anything. She’s had a life outside of him. That’s not healthy, but it’s the part that hurts and I think we see all of those unhealthy bits of her laid bare this season. Especially in terms of what she’s been doing when she hasn’t been with Jesse.”

What is your approach to the multi-faceted character of Tulip?

Ruth Negga: “Well, I remember very distinctly, it was our panel last year. I remember Seth said, ‘Well, she’s a human being. We wanted to portray a human being. That’s what we do.’ I think those terms, masculine, feminine, I think we entwine them and lock them in. I don’t really think that that’s done us any favors because we share all of them as human beings. That’s what I want to do in my work. I think that’s what we want to do is just portray humans with everything that they are, that we can be.”

Talk about the latest Hitler scene, where Eugene beats the crap out of him but Hitler also gets to be sympathetic.

Seth Rogen: “Again, I don’t want to ruin what happens, but we’re definitely trying to play with the ideas of redemption and rehabilitation I guess. If there is a Hell, what’s the point of it? is something we talked a lot about. Could you change in Hell? Is there a point to changing in Hell? Is it bad to change in Hell, because if you act good, then that kind of goes against the nature of Hell. I don’t want to ruin where it all goes, but those are the kinds of conversations we had as far as that. It would be very expected to just show the pure evil version of Hitler basically. It’s much more interesting to explore, like Ruth was saying, it’s like they’re all people. Even Hitler was a person. The worst one at that, but if you’re embracing the idea, which we do, of having him be a character on our TV show, then we thought we should treat him like any other character as far as the thought we put into him goes. For Eugene, again, it’s kind of like he’s nice to him. He inherently believes Christian philosophy of forgiveness and things like that but he’s in Hell which he also believes in. And he’s Hitler so there’s a lot of things going on there. It all adds up nicely. That’s all I guess I’ll say. It’s weird though.”

Has the show hit its stride because you’re more familiar with the process, or just a benefit of getting everybody out on the road?

Joseph Gilgun: “I think so, yeah. I think we’re all really comfortable with one another and the characters now. There’s a bit more believability. I remember in the pilot certainly, in the first series, we were still really finding the direction we wanted to take these characters in. This year, there’s much more trust. It feels much more like a collaboration. You feel like you can invest a piece of yourself into it. I certainly feel that way so definitely.”

Dominic Cooper: “The writers getting to know us as well. You can sense that. They know the kind of work we enjoy doing and they sense the characters that we’re portraying and how we’re portraying them, and I think they enjoy writing for us for that reason. Of course the crew’s been similar.”

Seth Rogen: “We’ve been able to accomplish a lot with not a ton of resources. I think the nature of the story, the first season we’re compressing the spring and this season we’re really letting it go. We always knew that was going to happen. It’s a weird strategy in retrospect because we could’ve just been cancelled. That would’ve been really frustrating but we weren’t, so we got to do the thing that we were slowly building toward. Some would maybe argue too slowly, but we are where we are. We looked at the first season and the thing Evan and I kept saying is throughout the first season, there’s maybe like a dozen moments where when you look at them, you’re like wow, that sh*t can only happen on one thing on earth and that is the TV show Preacher. Then me and Evan were like, ‘What if there was 200 things like that instead of just a dozen?’ That was something we really encouraged the writers to try to do is indulge in the tone and take big crazy swings and not be afraid to try to be funny or irreverent and really try to push the boundaries of the tone of the show as much as humanly possible, basically.”

Jesse’s gone darker than we’ve ever seen him before. Where does that darkness come from and how do you enjoy playing it?

Dominic Cooper: “I’ve always been aware that he possesses that darkness. I think it comes from an incredible amount of guilt that he harbors about the death of his father and the responsibility of the death of his father, and from a life living with the most crazy people that have been portrayed in anything I’ve ever seen. Living in a coffin under a swamp as we saw in the comics, is a bad form of behavioral…”

Seth Rogen: “I’m writing a book that supports it, actually.”

Dominic Cooper: “So I think that’s where that darkness is constantly bubbling under the surface. There are certain things and one thing which will really infuriate him and reveal that darkness is any danger towards the person he loves more than anything in the world, which is Tulip because that’s the only family he has. It’s the only family he’s ever known. I think when he finds out about the marriage, the disloyalty of not knowing about it and the other things that have happened in the past, the saying when someone sees red, it really goes blank for him. I think he can become extremely volatile and dangerous and quite nasty. The more the writers write about him and the more is revealed about him, the more he terrifies me in his inability to see compassion. His use of Genesis often astounds me because he doesn’t do it sometimes to help his best mates in a time of need, but he’ll use it sporadically and without warning and sometimes for fun. There’s a kind of schizophrenic nature to him. He’s sort of all over the place. That, I think, will go much further and become more and more unsettling as the seasons progress.”

Do you ever have to sit down with AMC and convince them to do scenes like Hitler and the makeup for Arseface?

Seth Rogen: “They’re phone calls normally. No one wants to look at each other in the eye when they’re discussing this sh*t. There’s been a few of them. Ian’s thing was not one of them actually. They were okay with that. Hitler required a few conversations. But they more just want to kick the tires I guess you’d say and make sure there’s thought behind it and a plan, an overall plan behind it, and that it’s not just us doing it because we think it’s funny or incendiary or something like that. Blowing up Tom Cruise took maybe two conversations. There’s been a couple things. There are a few things that haven’t happened yet.”

Joseph Gilgun: “I got a personal invite from Tom Cruise.”

Seth Rogen: “Really? It’s a trap! Don’t go! He knows your involvement. No, I got a call from his someone, ‘Why’d you blow him up?’ I had no good answer. Yeah, there’s a few things every now and then that does require a conversation but they are generally really cool about it. If anything, when I watch the show, like most things I’ve done throughout my life, I’m shocked with what we’re able to get away with. Not what we’re not able to get away with. The things that we’ve been stopped from doing pale in comparison to the things we’ve actually done. That is something that I’m constantly just surprised by what they let us do. It’s crazy. Hitler’s a character on our show.”

What is the process for Arseface?

Ian Colletti: “It’s a pretty crazy process. It takes about two hours every morning. It’s a one-time use thing. I use it one day, take it off and it’s a snotty, disgusting mess by the end of the day. KNB designed it. It’s incredible. I’m so amazed at how real it looks. Even on set, last season, someone came up and was just like, ‘Thank you for your service.’ I was like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m not in the military. This is totally fake.'”

Seth Rogen: “That’s nice they assumed you were in the military though. If I had that, they’d be like, ‘Did you fall on a toaster or something?'”

Who’s a more badass vampire, Joseph or Graham, who played Dracula?

Joseph Gilgun: “Oh, did you?”

Graham McTavish: “Yes, yes.”

Joseph Gilgun: “We should have a vampire-off one day.”

Graham McTavish: “We can do it later on, actually.”

Joseph Gilgun: “Let’s have a rompy vampire off later on tonight at the beach.”

Graham McTavish: They’re both kind of romantic vampires as well.”

Joseph Gilgun: “And he’s a very gentle lover.”

Graham McTavish: “We’re not all bad.”

Preacher Season 2
Joseph Gilgun as Cassidy, Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, and Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare in ‘Preacher’ Season 2 Episode 6 (Photo by Michele K. Short / AMC / Sony Pictures Television)

How did you film the awesome highway sequence in the season premiere?

Seth Rogen: “It was fun. We planned it intensely. That’s the only way to really do something like that is to meticulously plan every single shot of it so me and Evan storyboard a lot and we spend a lot of time playing with toys and figures and making sure that the physicality of the sequence makes sense. Then we show everyone our storyboards and we’re like, ‘This is you. You’re running across over here. And you roll out of the car. You yell, ‘Over here!’ And then this is you, Joe. You’re getting shot at over here.’ And then you literally go through it, shot by shot, not in order.

We shot it over the course of two days I want to say. Everything on the road was two days which is pretty crazy. And the effects, it’s really everyone coming together. The effects guys were amazing. The camera guy, the crew, without a very strong crew [it wouldn’t have worked]. And it was the first two days of the entire season, we really threw people into the boiling water as far as that goes. It was fun. I love doing that stuff. That’s, for me and Evan, one of the most fun things about directing the show is that we get to do things that you don’t see in directing or coming up in comedies, we didn’t do a lot of. It’s fun for us to do entirely different types of sequences and work with actors that didn’t come up in an improvisational comedy background. They’ve taught us a ton about directing honestly, because we’re like oh, they’re like the first real actors that we’ve directed in a lot of ways. As far as having a purely acting background and not people that we were friends with for years and years and years. We had to talk to them like actors which was really interesting and educational and I think very helpful for us as directors.”

How much of season two was planned before season one, particularly the baby?

Seth Rogen: “You always knew what happened to the baby, right? The birth control pill thing, I don’t think that was maybe thought of last season. Obviously, I can’t remember. We knew the whole thing with what happened with the bank robbery and losing the baby and all that stuff. I honestly can’t remember if that was part of it.”

Dominic Cooper: “We didn’t know. It was interesting revealing it and it informed our relationship and it informed our relationship in it. It made it much more complicated because that one scene where you see us back in the past in the apartment, it’s like the final breakup. It’s the end of the relationship. It’s quite moving and you can see why they just have to go in their separate directions. They’ve tried very hard to start a new life. They’ve tried to go on the straight and narrow. They’ve lived a criminal life but it just hasn’t worked out for them. It informs all the stuff that happens later on.”

When you interact with the children in the pilot.

Ruth Negga: “When we were filming it, it was quite an emotional day, wasn’t it? But I thought it was a really interesting dissection of a relationship that’s in free fall when too people can’t communicate and what that does, how it changes you. How something so big and so intimate can be so explosively divisive. It can shift these two people so far away from one another. I do really love that storyline because I thought this is real life. This is what happens. Sometimes these things can do that and they can shift your soul mate so far away, there is no communication and you’ve reached a cul de sac for that. When they leave, they don’t look at one another. I think that’s what happened. That’s real heartbreak. These traumatic things, that’s what it does to even the most intimate relationships. I really like the way we go, actually.”

Your journey to your personal hell was one of the darkest moments of the first season. How did that influence the way you portray the character?

Graham McTavish: “He goes through such an extraordinary trauma with his family. You could argue perhaps that the journey that he embarks on in season two, he’s made his deal with Fiore to get back Genesis and in doing so, indirectly I suppose killing Jesse Custer. He has no personal animosity towards him at all. He’s a means to an end so I had to try and find a human reason for all that really. For me, it sounds possibly a little eccentric to say this, but it became a journey motivated by love as much as anything else because he wanted to be reunited with his family and this was the only way to do it. Now, he does take a rather heavy-handed approach. A lot of people get in his way and they all die. I always feel very sorry for our guest actors.”

Seth Rogen: “I’ll be killing you today.”

Graham McTavish: “That’s right. But it’s great fun. It’s great fun to play that character. It’s like that nightmare that you can’t wake up from that we’ve all had where you’re being pursued by something and you cannot get away from it. That nightmare is me I guess and I am that person pursuing you down the road. The fact that he walks everywhere and he doesn’t even walk quickly, that’s just so much more intimidating. I mean, if he was a brisk pace going down the road, that wouldn’t be nearly as frightening. Doesn’t help having a sword of course because the sword is quite encumbering.”

Seth Rogen: “It’s a lot of props.”

Graham McTavish:: “You’re pretty much sitting down. You don’t see me sit down much. I remember suggesting to Seth, ‘I think I might sit down in this scene,’ and he very kindly maneuvered me away from the idea because it would’ve been a nightmare.”

Seth Rogen: “I was like, ‘You can’t look cool moving your sword away to pull your chaps up.'”

Graham McTavish: “Anyway, it’s a wonderful character to portray. He’s got some interesting stuff coming up for the rest of the season. In terms of his own pain, the heaven and hell that he carries around with him, that all these characters have been through. That’s what I find so interesting both about the TV show and about the comics. They deal with that subject, a subject that’s universal. They just happen to set it in a fantastical universe where people have asses.”

Can you talk about the score?

Seth Rogen: “Well, Dave Porter does the music. He’s great. He did the music for Breaking Bad is where we first heard his music. He did the music for The Disaster Artist as well. He’s someone we really got along with. Me and Evan like very not subtle score. A lot of people like score that you can’t even notice it. We like the opposite score where it’s a real part of the experience and you know it’s there. We’re always being like, ‘More! Bam bam bam!’ I remember the Saint of Killers music, we just were like, ‘It should be insane. It should just be horrifying and a lot. It shouldn’t be subtle at all.’ We always say we’re not very subtle directors, especially on Preacher. The material allows for a somewhat indulgent/heavy-handed directorial approach at times because it’s so crazy. It doesn’t push the boundaries of it really, as long as you anchor it with scenes and with the performances and things like that. The score, yeah, we like a lot of music that you can really hear, that you’re really aware of. We’re always telling them to not use music in times where they think they should use it and that’s why if we’re going to use it, it should be like at 10. We hate the ‘get you through the scene music.’ We try to never do that. If there’s music, you’re going to hear it. There’s going to be a reason for it basically. Dave Porter’s great.”

Is God going to show up more in season 2? If God came down, what would the actors say to him?

Seth Rogen: “What if God was one of us?”

Joseph Gilgun: “Where the f*** have you been? What’s the deal, man?”

Seth Rogen: “What’s the deal, man? That’s a good question.”

Joseph Gilgun: “What’s the f****ing deal here? What are you doing? What are you doing?”

Seth Rogen: “I can’t answer. The pursuit for God remains a prominent part of the show this season and yeah, I’d say God, yo, what’s up, man?”

Ruth Negga: “What’s the f***ing story?”

Seth Rogen: “What’s the story? I don’t know, what do you ask God? Can I live forever?”

How will Tulip respond to Jesse using Genesis on her?

Ruth Negga: “I think the reason that she doesn’t like using Genesis, she understands the arbitrary nature of power. I think she has an innate sense of decency and fairness. I think for her, his use of Genesis, she’s very suspicious of it because I think she understands that if you have an authority, you must use it wisely. I think she really doesn’t understand the way that he can just arbitrarily just use it on anybody. If there’s a fight, she wants it to be a fair fight. The scales of justice for her should be balanced, even though she’s a murderous criminal. I think it’s not fair to her.”

What are the sh*ttiest decisions you had to make as directors?

Seth Rogen: “I had to talk a girl into pretending to eat Michael Cera’s ass. That was kind of sh*tty. There’s things like that that are just awkward. I didn’t talk her into it. She was more than happy to on set but it was an awkward scene to direct. There’s awkward scenes to direct. It’s never that bad. I think we have a good demeanor on set.”

Joseph Gilgun: “I had to piss in front of you, didn’t I, in that bar?”

Seth Rogen: “We made Joe piss himself one time because we wouldn’t let him out. In the pilot, there’s a scene. This is going to make me sound like a dick but there’s a scene where he’s landed after jumping out of an airplane and he’s splattered in a field basically so he’s in the bottom of a crater with his guts out. To shoot it, he was buried in a hole basically with a prosthetic thing. It took him a good 45 minutes to get in and out of the hole. We were kind of f***ed for time and the sun was going down and he said, “I have to get out of the hole to piss.” and I’m like, “You’re not getting out of that hole to piss. I can’t let you.” And I made him piss himself while he was in the hole.”

Joseph Gilgun: “I had to piss my pants, man. I pissed my pants in the desert.”

Seth Rogen: “Yeah, I made a grown man piss his pants in a hole in the desert.”

Joseph Gilgun: “Tons of crew just going about their business.”

Seth Rogen: “Just pretending it’s not happening. Everyone knew too. That was all in good fun. If he actually cared, I wouldn’t have made him do it. He was in on the joke I think. I mean, directing TV is a good lesson in time efficiency. You don’t have a lot of time to do these things so you go in with these lofty plans sometimes and then if anything goes wrong at all, the whole plan goes out the window. I think that’s the challenge in television is making it look interesting while shooting things basically in as few shots as humanly possible. It’s not sh*tty. I love it. Directing this show and directing in general is a fantastic job and is really fun.

More on Preacher:
Preacher Season 2 Episode 1 ‘On the Road’ Recap
Preacher Season 2 Episode 2 ‘Mumbai Sky Tower’ Recap
Preacher Season 2 Episode 3 ‘Damsels’ Recap
Preacher Season 2 Episode 4 ‘Viktor’ Recap
Preacher Season 2 Episode 5 ‘Dallas’ Recap