It’s brash, bloody and incredibly violent. And that is why we love Preacher. Now kick-starting season 3 on Stan, all roads lead to the past for Jesse, Cassidy and Tulip and star Dominic Cooper promises it will be the most insane rise yet.
Gizmodo spoke to Cooper about meeting Jesse’s Gran’ma, shooting fight scenes and living up to the expectations of comic book fans.
Gizmodo: A few of the Preacher regulars were not in a good way at the end of season two. Where will season three take them?
Cooper: Well, we will see Jesse go back to the place he hates more than anywhere. And he is terrified [Laughs]. And we will also introduce a lot more characters. What’s wonderful, certainly from Jesse’s point of view, is that he is confronted with a past that he doesn’t know how to handle while the three protagonists are trying to fix their fractured dynamic. We’ve reached a point where we’ve all realised, as the comic did, how extreme and ludicrous we can be now.
Yes, the show is embedded in some kind of warped reality but we can be very daring and take risks. I think people are going to enjoy this season more than ever.
You're saying that you can now take risks. That’s coming from a show where the first two seasons were already pretty insane.
Yeah! That’s what so exciting about seeing the show develop. There’s tentativeness about – and rightly so – if you knew nothing of this material, it might have been too much to jump in at the beginning. But now, because we waited until this point, if you have been watching, you can understand who these characters really are and what motivates them. And that’s when you can go to absolute extremes.
I’ve been dying to get to know the Gran’ma and understand the people in Jesse’s life that make him such a terribly dark and injured personality. It couldn’t be more apparent why Jesse is who he is when you meet this family of nightmares. It’s a complete whirlwind. I hope that people can follow it, I am not concerned but there is an extraordinary amount going on. [Laughs]
In this new age of Television the canvas is just huge…
Totally! We can do whatever we want and go wherever we want. There is time to explore. Time to go down any path we want. There’s no end to the possibilities. I haven’t done anything like Preacher before. There is so much that I can find out about this person. I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface of who he is. In this season it has been exciting seeing how damaged Jesse is and why he is that damaged. And it makes complete sense. And then it gives me the foundation of why he behaves sometimes the way he does.
You mention his Gran’ma, played by Betty Buckley – how was she to work with? I guess the character’s relationship is a fractious one.
Yeah, it is. She is just wonderful to work with. Jesse hates everything his Gran’ma stands for, hates what she did to his family. Then when you actually take a step back, you realise that this is the only family he has. What does that mean to him? What does retaliation or revenge do? What does it achieve? Sure, we all experience this in smaller ways in real life. The hatred that can rage within when we get angry with someone but revenge achieves nothing. And how will that make you better? Define you? Better as a person? It won’t. There are lots of interesting dynamics in each of the storylines.
You mention then about meeting people who are fans – when you started this journey I guess there was a lot of pressure to live up to the fans of the comic books expectations. Now that Preacher is its own beast you have to make sure that you keep the fans of the show happy but then still keep an eye on the comic book fraternity to keep everyone content. Do you feel a lot of pressure or do you just go for it?
I don’t think you can. If you start feeling pressure – you’re finished. It’s been wonderful that there doesn’t seem to have been any bad vibes to what we have done or the way we have interpreted characters. It terrified me at the beginning. I was taking on this incredible hero but I had to choose the way that I had to do it. That’s all you can do. Your interpretations are never going please everyone. You just have to go in the same way that the writers have done.
If you just quake in your boots about what people would think then you just stall. You’ve got to just go for it and hope that is what people want. What we have learnt is that the more extreme we are the more people like it and respond to it. That’s exciting. The further we go, the better it is.
Part of that going “really far” is that violence and gore, how do you enjoy the physicality of this role and working with physical effects?
The show has a lot of action. What you see on screen is thanks to a great crew and a brilliant group of stunt people. I don’t like gratuitous violence just for the sake of violence, I want it to mean something. The comic violence in Preacher is very specific to the world we have been immersed in, it’s very real but over-the-top so it’s fresh every time you see it. I really love doing all that stuff myself. Our schedule is incredibly tight so we’ve had to do it extraordinarily quickly.
Sometimes we get a script and four days later and we are filming a scene with a huge piece of choreography in it. We barely have time to rehearse! Luckily the scripts are easy to adapt and to learn. The fight scenes are not just there for flashy fights and violence sake. They are rough and they’re dirty and that’s very much part of this show.
Can you talk about working with your showrunners – Sam Catlin, Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen. Are they very much hands on with this?
Yeah, very hands on. It is theirs after all. They all know exactly what they are looking for. What is wonderful is they really respond and react to our thoughts. I remember them saying this to me on the very first day that I will end up knowing Jesse more than them. They said, “You will become that character.” So they’ve been really exciting and collaborative, engaging and wanting ideas to help with decision-making.
They are very different, as well. They are an exciting, dynamic group of people and they are prepared to go to extremes. I remember from that first meeting how excited they were that this was finally actually going to happen. It’s been a long time in the making. And I think a lot of people have attempted it.
Do you have a favourite memory making the show?
The first season of the show was such a whirlwind. We were still finding our feet with it. There were moments when you really discover for the first time who Jesse was. I remember filming some fight sequences early on and they were really trying to push me. To have this crazed enjoyment rather than being purely aggressive.
It really gave you a glimpse into who Jesse really was. Using a different take on an idea. Ultimately, however, dark and sinister at times it can be weird and terrifying, it’s always been extraordinarily enjoyable on set. Everyone knows that they are making something completely and utterly obscure but it’s always been really good fun.
Preacher Season 3 is streaming now on Stan.