By Pauline Perenack
AMC’s Preacher recently premiered its fourth and final season, and so used this year’s Comic Con to talk about what the show has gone through up to this point, what the show has meant to the cast and crew, and ultimately, what fans of the show should expect of the explosive final season.
ScreenSpy sat down with the cast, including Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Julie Ann Emery, and Mark Harelik, at Comic Con this year where we dug a little deeper on what we can expect from God this season, this year’s change in location, and what the actors will miss most about their time on Preacher.
We know this is going to be the final season, so how were you able to wrap these characters up, as they have so much going on in their lives?
Dominic Cooper – We could have gone on and on and on, but I think their decision was made because they felt this story needed to have a beginning, middle, and end to wrap it up. The comic book has such a definitive ending and I think without the knowledge of that, you don’t know where it could go. It could just carry on and on.
Ruth Negga – But you don’t want it to go on. Like, oh my god, find God already. You don’t want to bore people.
DC – And that was the story they chose. This is what people who loved this comic book would want. But it’s very sad.
Julie Ann Emery – I think we’re all still kind of mourning. We just wrapped like three weeks ago, so I think we’re all working through the fact that we’re not going to show up to do scene work together again. I love showing up to work every day. Everybody on this show really ups each other’s game and challenges each other to be better. I never want to let any of my scene partners on our show down. It’s just such a high level of work going on that I’m really sad that I’m not going to show up to work with these guys tomorrow.
Mark Harelik – The story of Preacher was, before we went into production, already established for the most part. And so it wasn’t creating a story, it was creating moments that make the story that was really stimulating for us, and I think that’s the thing we fed on while we were there. But during the fourth season, the tension and the stakes just ratcheted up more and more and more, and being able to bring that to a conclusion was really satisfying as well as plangent.
JE – Plangent? Did you make that word up?
The relocation to Australia is a big thing this season. How has that impacted production, and your day-to-day this season?
RN – Shorter hours.
JE – We work ourselves to death in America, for the record.
DC – Looking back over the comics again, the landscape is a huge part of the graphic novel, how it’s drawn, and the influences it had on the characters and where those characters are from. So the landscape and the beauty was necessary to make you feel the vastness and the cinematic feel that Preacher deserved after this amount of time. And we found a landscape that had both an openness to it, and the raw qualities, and ultimately, there’s nowhere like it. I think it was hard… we got very used to the crew we worked with for a long time in New Orleans, and they really got to know and understand what it takes to make such a show. And being so far away from the writers was hard. You have a relationship with the writers, and you need answers quickly, but you’re on a different time zone.
JE – It’s a different day there than it is here now.
DC – Yeah, we’re a day ahead. I think it’s really going to add to the texture, and nuances of the place. It was incredible what they built. You step inside these sets, and the elaborate work that is put into them – we’re in Masala this season, and they built this wonderful place within the rock…
JE – You could get lost inside the set on the soundstage, and I quite frequently did. It was epic. And also, the Masala set kept changing. They kept building onto it or shifting the rooms around, so I kept getting lost. The production values are awesome this season.
DC – They built a tank for one day of filming, which normally would be used for the whole season. No expenses were spared. I think the moment they knew it was going to be the last, I think both the vision, and the extremes they went to in terms of how grotesque it became, they went as far as they possibly could.
MH – They built the Alamo for a one day shoot.
In last season, we saw Tulip denying God’s request about Jesse, so what is God going to do about it?
MH – Without getting terribly specific, I can say that God is manipulating everybody for his own purposes because he wants them to either succeed at what they’re doing, or think that they’re going to succeed, but ultimately fail in what they are doing, which will allow for something else to happen. He’s created this spider web, and as the episodes go by of the fourth season, you’ll see the effect of this spider web. And God has very specific intentions with Tulip, but they’re all wrapped up in his knowledge of her nature. This is referred to in season three as well as season four that he keeps calling her on her nature. And so he sort of knows what she’s going to do in response to his requests. The wild card in this is free will, and he cannot control free will.
What would you pick for your character’s theme song?
JE – I can answer that easily. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ is absolutely Featherstone’s soundtrack.
MH – Freeform jazz.
RN – Mine would be, ‘Voodoo Child’.
DC – ‘Time of Preacher’. It was used first in the pilot.
MH – I like the music question, because music is a character.
JE – Yeah, I listen to music a lot as a character building device.
What do you think is the hardest thing for your character to overcome?
RN – Self-doubt. The idea that you can’t outrun what is your past. That you can’t evolve or progress. I think that’s difficult for her. That was her insecurity, where people referenced past failure. I think that’s what…
DC – …God chooses…
RN – …against her and I think that she rejects that notion and I’m very proud of her for doing that.
DC – Jesse finally, with the help of God, realizes that there’s no end to his guilt about this father. He was blaming himself and releases his past. And he has a huge disappointment in what he discovers after this quest has gone on so long, but we finally see a man content with who he is and where his life ends, and what he has become after being traumatized. And he found it very difficult to exist with the guilt he feels from the death of his father.
As fans of the show, what will you guys miss the most about it?
JE – Showing up to work with each of these people and seeing them every day.
RN – For sure.
DC – This incredible ensemble is the thing we will miss, and the thing we will notice as we go forward to new jobs, is that this job offers us, as actors, such complex and different amounts of what we do for a living in such a short span of time. You possibly, in one day, in the speed in which we film this show, which is quite incredible, you can find yourself doing broad comedy, being very funny and spend days in fits of laughter, and then doing a very, very serious scene and then you do a very dramatic, excellently composed fight scene. You only get a hint of one of those things in jobs, and we’ve been blessed to do all of those in a space of a day, for four seasons.
JE – There’s no boring shoot. Every day has a very specific set of challenges.
RN – And we just laugh a lot.
Which episode this season should fans be looking for?
JE – We come out of the gate real hot in the first two episodes and I feel like every episode is explosive.
MH – It’s a page turner.
JE – Yeah, I really don’t know how I would choose that.
DC – There’s so much going on, it’s just unreal. What I thought was incredible was, the writers knew it was ending, I supposed, near the end of the third season, but they introduced a lot of new characters already, and then they introduced more, so they had a lot to wrap up. And I think that must be really hard. It must not be easy to even begin knowing how to wrap up each character’s storyline and it certainly felt more spread out in terms of…I didn’t see you (Julie), really, ever…
JE – Spoiler alert.
DC – …and I think they did really well in making sure there was nothing left un-sewn up because there is no unfinished business. You understand the journey of each person and where they end up. I assume that was a very hard task.
JE – We were all on these paths just kind of careening toward each other in the center all season, which sometimes meant I missed Dom, so I feel like you never get to take a breath this season. Nothing settles down. Everything is just a hardcore rollercoaster the entire time.
MH – Anybody who watches the two episode premiere on the fourth will have been injected with some highly addictive substance.
With all of the comedy and drama of the show, how do you personally balance the acting and your personal life?
RN – There is no personal life. No, I’m joking.
JE – Shoot, take a bath at the end of the day, and start over.
MH – It’s one of the things that makes working with a good group of people very important because you lose a lot of your personal life. So while 150 people are on the same soundstage, it needs to be a peaceful, cohesive, and supportive environment. And we were blessed to have that.
RN – You do become a family of sorts, and it’s collaborative when we’re working, and then as human beings, we bring each other’s moral up. Our cast is very kind.
DC – You have to be so be so generous when you’re doing this type of work, and you have scenes to do in such a short span of time, you need the support of the people in those scenes.
JE – The kind of relationship we have, I’ve shown up on days I’m not working to check in on people I haven’t seen in a while, and that’s happened for me. Like, you guys have come to check in with me, and I’ve never been on a set like that where the cast was very invested and ensured we’re good and ok, and everything was alright. We’re a really cohesive unit, and we’re like a family.
MH – If you’re watching something, whether film or TV, and there are two actors in a scene who don’t like each other, you pretty much know it. You can tell. And when they do, you can see that too.
Preacher airs Sundays on AMC.