Season three of AMC’s riveting drama Preacher will premiere on Sunday, June 24, 2018 at 10pm ET/PT. The new season finds Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Oscar nominee Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) visiting Angelville, the Louisiana plantation where Jesse was brought up. The road trip to Angelville means fans will get the opportunity to meet the weird batch of new supporting characters, including Gran’ma (Betty Buckley), who’ve played important roles in Jesse’s life.
Preacher‘s based on the comic book series by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon and has the creative team of executive producers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and showrunner Sam Catlin bringing the complex characters to life on the small screen. With the third season about to premiere, longtime friends and collaborators Rogen and Goldberg teamed up for a conference call to discuss the new season and Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy’s stay in Angelville.
Preacher Season 3 Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg Interview:
How will season three differ totally and thematically from season two?
Evan Goldberg: “Although the first few episodes are kind of more revolving around the house and Angelville, the show itself traveled a lot this year. I would say maybe even more than it did last year, as far as like how many different locations the show takes place in and to how many different cities it takes place in and all that. I think it does continue to expand. But I could definitely see how the first few episodes make it seem like they’ll be largely anchored in Angelville throughout a lot of the season. But, it doesn’t really like come together that way.
I think for the story though, I think it’s like last season. You know, I think this season the big difference is like Jesse needs the help and Tulip has to help him, as opposed to last season when it was kind of the opposite of that dynamic.”
What were you the most excited about bring to life on the screen in terms of Jesse’s past in Angelville?
Evan Goldberg: “I mean, without a doubt, the best part of it is the characters of Jody, TC, and Gran’ma, just like getting into those fan favorites and personal favorites of ours, and getting to like kind of tackle characters who are unlike any characters we’ve seen before. We’ve had a lot of different characters in the show, but these people are psychopaths. They are like terrifying people. It is just a really fun and a really different thing to tackle.
But yes, without a doubt, the main thing is just like the actual characters that Garth created are just so fun. And, these are three of the best ones.”
You’ve been able to bring Preacher to life pretty closely to what comic book fans have been expecting, in regards to tone and content. What was the biggest challenge in doing that for season three?
Evan Goldberg: “I think, as anything, the challenge with the show – it’s the same challenge always. It’s like, ‘How do we take this world that is, by all means, like off-the-wall insane, and tonally runs a gamut that few things I’ve ever worked on or seen run and how do you balance that with making it seem real enough that people actually care and are invested into characters and don’t feel like they’re watching comic book characters, but they feel like they’re watching real people?’
And even though they’re doing all this crazy stuff, they feel the stakes of it, and they feel the value of it to the characters. I think with this show, specifically, that’s always the challenge. It’s like balancing the madness and the reality, basically.”
How do you go about writing the dialogue for each character? Do the actors have liberty to ad-lib along the way?
Evan Goldberg: “There is the liberty to ad-lib. But there’s not a huge amount of ad-libbing, though there definitely is some great stuff. But really, that’s Sam Catlin at the core. You know, we read all the scripts and we make sure that the story makes sense. We have suggestions. But, really, Sam is the one honing the actual writing and, obviously, our incredible writing staff. But, you know, we’re at season three so we’re all kind of synced up. I feel like everyone knows the voices of the characters and is synced up with each other.”
Could talk about the changes to the storyline, specifically between Tulip, Gran’ma, and God? and also, what specifically you wanted to keep from that storyline?
Evan Goldberg: “I mean, the comics just has a lot of like Jesse facing Tulip, and a lot of Jesse telling Tulip to not do stuff because it’s too dangerous; and then he’s going to do it. That stuff just felt like stuff that could be improved on and stuff that allowed us to give each character more opportunity to be active, and to be heroic, and to be making decisions. That was really what we were trying.
I think most of the changes come from that type of thinking. It’s not like, ‘How do we make the show better or how do we make the comics look better?’ It’s mostly just, ‘How do we give these characters more agency? How do we give them more control over their actions?’
I think this season, especially, like with Tulip and Jesse, you know, he’s the one who’s kind of stuck this time and so giving her more opportunity to try to get him out of the situation with his health. But they’re rarely working together, as opposed to one, again, just one being helpless and one saving the other.”
How did you settle on Betty Buckley for Gran’ma, because she’s absolutely perfect?
Seth Rogen: “We saw Split. Split was awesome.”
Evan Goldberg: “Yes. We love Split.”
Seth Rogen: “And we said, ‘We should get the woman who was in Split.’ And that’s Betty Buckley.”
Evan Goldberg: “Yes.”
Seth Rogen: “And she crushes it. She’s just awesome. Sometimes it’s that simple.”
The marketing of season three seems to embrace the “if you don’t like it, don’t watch” approach. Was that an active decision you made going into promoting season three?
Evan Goldberg: “Oh, we didn’t like go into season three with this plan. But, you know, the marketing discussed a bunch of options with us. And when we talked about this plan, we thought that it really made sense because it’s a show that really like pushes boundaries and goes for it. That’s why the people who love it, love it.
There’s something kind of interesting to the fact that, for some people, this show is just like too crazy. And so we thought we should kind of embrace that in some capacity.”
Seth Rogen: “Yes, exactly. I think there’s so many shows on television now that, to us, being different is a good thing. If you don’t like that, then, guess what? There’s a hundred million other shows that you have the opportunity to watch.
I think part of it came from the fact that our show kept getting protested, which was hilarious, because it’s not an easy show to watch even. You know, like it’s not on a lot of streaming services that are intuitive to use. You kind of have to go to AMC here and watch it when it airs, or use the AMC app, which not as many people use as one might hope. So, what we also found is like people were seeking out the show to complain about it, which was just kind of like a funny dynamic that we saw playing out.”
You really get into adapting worlds where you can go completely guano. What is it about Garth Ennis’ work that aligned so well with your aesthetic?
Seth Rogen: “A few things. I think that to us the tone, you know, as directors, is like the most fun thing to get to play with. And it’s why off the shows we have, and we direct a lot of them, like Preacher is in a lot of ways the most fun because there’s the least rules. When we are hiring directors, that’s what we say more than anything is like, ‘There are no rules. You can do anything. If it seems cool and it helps the story and supports the characters, go for it.’ That to us is the best part of the show.
It’s a horror show. It’s a comedy show. It’s a dramatic show. It’s an action show. It’s a kung-fu show sometimes. It’s a suspenseful show. It’s a romantic show. And very few things come along that allow you to do all that; sometimes all that within like a five-minute period of time. That’s what we love about the comics. And, so, I think that’s what we tried the hardest to capture with the show.”
Do you think the Allfather D’Aronique storyline will create the biggest protests?
Evan Goldberg: “I feel likelast year we reached a pretty good crescendo. But I can promise that the Allfather…it’s intense and it’s crazy. If you’re a fan of the comic, you’re not going to think that we pulled the punches on the Allfather. And if you’re not a fan of the comic, you’re going to be like, ‘How the f**k did they think of this sh*t?’ And the answer is, ‘Garth and his demented mind thought of it and we’re just bringing it to you.'”
So much of the new season is about Jesse going back home and about Tulip’s journey coming back from this really dark, awful dead place. But where Cassidy is headed as we get into season three?
Evan Goldberg: “Entering season three, Cassidy and Jesse are in a massive argument and Cassidy despises him. Cassidy really goes on like his own journey. He’s still integral to the story and he still has a ton of stuff with Tulip and Jesse. But, he kind of goes on his own side journey for a good portion of it and goes into a fan favorite, which is…”
Seth Rogen: “Les Enfants.”
Evan Goldberg: “Is it okay to say? Les Enfants du Sang?”
Seth Rogen: “Les Enfants du Sang? The Children of the Blood?”
Evan Goldberg: “The Children of the Blood. So he kind of has his own little vampire-based side story that is bizarrely hilarious and incredibly crazy, and really gives Cassidy – and the actor Joe Gilgun – a chance to really shine.”
Seth Rogen: “Yes, again, that was always one of my favorite parts from the comics, was the Les Enfants du Sang. And, in the show, it’s just as crazy as you would hope.”
How influential was the success of Preacher with being able to start moving forward on The Boys with Amazon?
Evan Goldberg: “I think it’s absolutely key and without Preacher, I can’t imagine they would have even considered it for a minute. Because even though Preacher is by far the craziest, most reality-bending, genre-bending thing, The Boys is much more grounded in reality. But it is equally insane in its own unbelievably gritty, unforgiving analysis of societal clause through this very different story.
But, yes, without any doubt there’s no chance they would have even considered letting us do this, nor would they have considered anyone doing it I would imagine, without this thing like Preacher, because it’s just proved that a show this crazy can happen.”
Seth Rogen: “Exactly. I think mostly that’s what Preacher did. It’s like it had kind of been dubbed un-makeable, and that was crazy to us because we couldn’t have had a more clear vision of how it could have been made. And a similar thing was happening with The Boys where it was kind of handed off by a few different people who, by all means, should have been more suitable to make it than us. But for whatever reason, they couldn’t.
And the whole time we were just sitting there being like, ‘We get this. We can do this. This is not that crazy to us.’ We understand how this world works, and we partnered with Eric Kripke who really understands how the world works. And, Dan Trachtenberg made one of my favorite movies that had come out in a long time. And so getting him to direct the first episode was just like thrilling, honestly. We were just in Toronto watching them film it and I think they’re filming the second or third episode right now.”
What were you guys thinking with the addition of the Madame Boyd rivalry with Gran’ma, because that seemed like kind of a new twist?
Seth Rogen: “Well, when you see it in the comic books, it’s like spooky house in the Bayou somewhere. It’s like you don’t ask a lot of questions. But as soon as it’s been brought into the real world, you’re like, ‘What do these people do? What do they do all day? Do they have jobs? How does it work?’
As soon as we started having that conversation, we realized that there was actually a lot of opportunity to kind of build out the mythology of Angelville, and what they actually do, and what the purpose of it is, and whether or not other people do the same thing, and how they view those people.”
Evan Goldberg: “On the same note, Jody, TC, and Gran’ma in the comics, they’re great characters. But in a show, there’s just more face time. You just need to round out the characters more. And so those characters need more hopes and dreams of their own and more goals and specific history.”
Preacher is really a road story in its inception. You’ve handled that in the first two seasons by turning each pit stop into the setting for an entire season. How did you decide on that structure?
Seth Rogen: “I mean part of it honestly is logistical. We do not have the ability to do every episode in a different city. You know, it could just have it be like, ‘Oh, Episode 1, they’re in San Francisco. Episode 2, they’re in New York. Episode 3, they’re in Albuquerque.’ The nature of how TV shows function sometimes, and this is one of them, is you just do things for financial reasons, unfortunately. You kind of need to revolve it around a few main locations.
That being said, I think this season, especially, I think is a good example of it. As it goes on, it really does not feel like you’re just stuck in Angelville the whole time. There’s a lot of locations. There’s a lot of adventures. You know, Cassidy has developed his kind of whole own thing that is largely not there. I think it’s something that we are trying to capture the energy of a road trip while not being able to afford, actually, bringing the show on a road trip.”
Evan Goldberg: “You’ll have to watch to find out but one of the most exciting parts of the whole season is through a discussion with the production team, Sam [Catlin] figured out a way to have an adventure that goes to Japan briefly, which is really taking a deficit and turning it into a positive. They figured out ways to just make it feel huge, even though we got to make some concessions.”
The Angelville storyline is crucial to Preacher. How much importance did you put into developing it and figuring out where to insert it in the story?
Evan Goldberg: “We don’t want to get to it too early because it’s really nuts. And I think if it comes sooner than this, people would just be like, ‘What the f**k is happening?’
And, also, this is a big thing for us in doing the comic and making it into a show. The comic, by nature of being a comic, just had to jump into sh*t really fast because Garth had to sell enough for people to keep letting him make the comics. So, he just had to kind of rocket forward into the heart of the story.
TV these days, you know, a lot of our conversations are about Breaking Bad, obviously, with Sam. It’s like a slow burn. It’s really great, like Game of Thrones you can’t imagine how big it’s going to end from where it starts. And so we really wanted to just make sure we didn’t get too crazy too quickly, and that we let the audience ease into the crazier stuff.
But in drafting the course of the show, we all knew that this swamp stuff is, in a way, where the show is going to jump up to the next level and kind of reach an even crazier place than it’s been at. And, I think that has happened.”
Tulip is a badass and audiences love her. What direction is she headed in this season and how has her time in purgatory affected or influenced her?
Seth Rogen: “It seems like she comes out of purgatory even more badass than she went into it.”
Evan Goldberg: “I mean, this season she’s just f**king sick of people messing with her. She decides to take sh*t into her own hands and she’s not going to be anyone’s pawn. She’s not going to let anyone manipulate her. She’s not going to follow Jesse. She’s going to do what she wants, the way that she thinks it should be done. And, obviously, kick a lot of ass while doing so.”
Can you talk about continuing to push the love triangle forward and how that might factor into the friendship?
Seth Rogen: “I mean, there’s a big problem with their dynamic and that is just Cassidy is in love with Tulip and he cannot be in love with Tulip. No matter how clear it is that she doesn’t love him back and that she in fact loves someone else very much, he just cannot get over it. And, yes, and no matter what it rears its head in some destructive way because he just isn’t able to accept the reality of the situation.”
How many stories did you guys insert into this season?
Evan Goldberg: “I think there’s like three full – no, there’s four. No, there’s many. There’s many. I don’t know. There’s like five or six. There’s a lot of stuff that’s been going on. For this show, we really think that the pace should get crazier as we go along. So this season, like more happens faster, with more ramifications than the season before. And the season before, I think, had less than the season before. We just want it to kind of ramp up always.
There’s just so much story to tell in the universe that we have to play in, that we can introduce like tons of characters every season, and kill them more than you might think, and bring more back and do whatever. It’s a grand universe Garth created.”
Seth Rogen: “If anything, we wanted it to be one of those shows where more will happen on a weekly basis than you were expecting to happen, than less happening on a weekly basis than you were hoping, you know?”
Evan Goldberg: “It’s kind of a thing from Breaking Bad. It’s like ruined most TV shows for me now where like they just would introduce [characters] in Breaking Bad and I’d be like, ‘Oh, this is what season four is going to be about.’ And then two episodes later, they were all dead and something completely different was happening. It just blew me away every time.
You know, we watch that show fanatically. We really studied it, and that’s one of the reasons that I think Breaking Bad is so exhilarating. It’s like the whole thing play out when you just think they’re going to take way longer, and that’s thrilling.”
>What can you say about the Grail storyline?
Seth Rogen: “I think the plot of the Grail, really, like it starts to crystallize a little more this season. We learned that Herr Starr is not the head of the Grail. There’s a guy above him who…they have kind of a contentious relationship. But, yes, I mean the Grail is the most powerful organization in the world. They continue to play a major role in the show. They continue to keep the offspring of Jesus in a highly-secretive location somewhere. And, they plan on using him to be the Messiah and take over the world.”
What were the things you felt you could expand more on Hoover and Featherstone that would make them more integral and not just be kind of comic reliefs?
Seth Rogen: “I think they’re, A, not that threatening in the comics. I think the idea that especially, Featherstone is a real threat and a very adept agent, and a true believer of the Grail, and someone who truly feels for Herr Starr and wants to do good by him. I think in the comic, to me, they both always came across as like a little…I don’t know. You just never were that worried about them.
But I think Hoover is similar still. I would think Hoover does kind of fall slightly into the comic relief role, which he’s very good at. He is just kind of like everywhere all the time. But the idea of Featherstone truly being someone that could manipulate people and fool the hardest-to-fool people, and con the con artists themselves, it’s one of those things where just once they start to occupy a three-dimensional space, it became a much more interesting character.”
Evan Goldberg: “Yes. And the very crazy thing about Featherstone is we thought up the idea that like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if there was an actor who had to act like many different people in many different episodes? What a cool thing that would be.’ And then they had to find that actress after we had the idea. We didn’t model it around her. I would just think of how terrifying that must have been for her where she’s like, ‘I have to do like many good characters. Everyone else just has to do one.'”
Seth Rogen: “It was thrilling. I think she loved it.”
Evan Goldberg: “Yes. She did seem to have fun.”
Was there ever anything AMC told you not to do?
Seth Rogen: “They haven’t told us no.”
Evan Goldberg: “We’ve had some real long conversations.”
Seth Rogen: “They’re very upfront about the challenges the show has posed. They’d never say we can’t do something. But, they’re very blunt about the fact that the show needs advertisers in order to exist.”
Evan Goldberg: “And I will say they’ve talked about – they’ve talked us down a few degrees a few times.”
Seth Rogen: “Did they?”
Evan Goldberg: “It was one time. It was one time that they talked us down for something.”
Seth Rogen: Again, I literally can’t remember what you’re referring to at this moment. But I’ll take your word for it. But yes, I remember, after putting Hitler on the show, they were like, ‘I don’t think Mercedes is going to advertise with us anymore.'”
As the directors of The Interview, what was your reaction to the Trump-Kim summit?
Evan Goldberg: “It’s life imitating art a little too much.”
Seth Rogen: “Yes. I didn’t think that the vain egocentric talk show host character that we portray in The Interview who gets swept up by Kim Jong-un and doesn’t realize was being manipulated would be the President of the United States. But it seems like a possible dynamic nonetheless. So, I think that’s what we were worried more than anything.
Evan Goldberg: “It’s a little nuts just on point it is with like nothing came of the summit except he made Kim Jong-un look kind of okay, which he’s not.”
Seth Rogen: “Yes, exactly. I feel like if you re-watch The Interview and pretend that Dave Skylark was Trump, and then just turn the movie off before he realized he was bad, that’s probably what happened.”
More on Preacher:
- Recap of Preacher Season 3 Episode 1 “Angelville”
- Recap of Preacher Season 3 Episode 2 “Sonsabitches”
- Recap of Preacher Season 3 Episode 3 “Gonna Hurt”
- Recap of Preacher Season 3 Episode 4 “The Tombs”