Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 July 2019

TV version of comic book series Preacher punches above its weight

The series, which began a few weeks ago in the US, has a 90 per cent approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, accompanied by lavish praise.
From left, Joseph Gilgun, Dominic Cooper and Lucy Griffiths. Lewis Jacobs / Sony Pictures Television / AMC
From left, Joseph Gilgun, Dominic Cooper and Lucy Griffiths. Lewis Jacobs / Sony Pictures Television / AMC

Supernatural, super-twisted and super-funny perhaps best express the charms of Preacher, a dark new drama based on the acclaimed comic-book series from DC’s Vertigo imprint.

Texas cleric Jesse Custer, played by English actor Dominic Cooper, finds himself possessed by a mysterious entity that imbues him with a highly unusual power – the ability to make people do his bidding with a word.

This is not Cooper’s first comics-related role – he portrayed inventor and ladies man Howard Stark – father of Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man – in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) and later reprised the role on TV in Agent Carter.

“I loved doing that role – but this has been much more of a challenge,” says the 38-year-old. “When you find Jesse at the beginning, he’s in quite a dark space. He’s quite heavy. He’s quite hung over. I was often worried that this rather morose character, this depressed, violent and sad man, was going to be really boring to watch.”

It doesn’t take long, however, before the pace picks up – and all hell breaks loose – when Jesse’s power attracts the attention of strange angels Fiore (Tom Brooke, Game of Thrones) and DeBlanc (Anatol Yusef, Boardwalk Empire).

Soon Jesse, his badass ex-­girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), single mum-of-three Emily Woodrow (Lucy Griffiths, True Blood) and an Irish vampire named Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun, This Is England) are thrust into an insane world peopled by a cast of characters from heaven, hell and all points in between.

Developed by creative partners and friends since childhood, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express, The Interview) – along with writer-­producer Sam Catlin (Breaking Bad) – the series, which began a few weeks ago in the US, has a 90 per cent approval rating on the ­Rotten Tomatoes website, accompanied by lavish praise. “A thrilling celebration of the bizarre, Preacher boasts enough gore, glee, and guile to make this visually stunning adaptation a must-see for fans of the comic and newcomers alike,” wrote one reviewer.

Before the 10-episode first season has finished airing, the drama has already been renewed for a second season of 13 episodes, due for broadcast next year.

“I thought Seth was extraordinarily clever in deciding to make this a prequel [to the comic book],” says Cooper. “This is the beginning, before the events of the comic exist. You never even see Jesse preaching [in the comics] ... you don’t see him nurturing his flock ... or asking for forgiveness. [The TV show] has really managed to establish a clear indicator of what all these people are searching for and striving for. That’s been essential to an audience who don’t have the knowledge of the comic book.”

In a typical hour, there’s no shortage of ghastly fight scenes or grotesque characters, including Eugene Root, who has been left disfigured after shooting himself in the face with a shotgun, as played by Ian Colletti.

While Cooper says he finds gratuitous violence boring, he views Jesse’s punch-ups as vital to revealing the character and advancing the story.

“That reveals more about Jesse’s character than anything else he’s done,” he says. “You can suddenly see this man who’s been suppressing this love of violence, of anger and aggression – and it all comes out in that moment – with that smile and that exuberance and that love of beating the crap out of someone.”

On the other hand, he adds: “It’s a nightmare when the director wants the entirety of a 10-minute fight scene, the whole thing. That’s when I start to panic and run out the back door. But I love these scenes.”

Preacher airs at 11pm on Tuesday, July 12 on OSN First HD

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: July 10, 2016 04:00 AM

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