“Preacher,” Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s groundbreaking Vertigo horror classic, is coming to television. For years, fans have been pushing for “Preacher” to become part of the TV landscape. To many readers, it was always clear that the series’ twists and turns combined with its complex characterization and mind-blowing violence would be perfect for cable TV, yet no network dared to attempt put “Preacher” the air — or so it once seemed.
AMC is hard at work putting together a “Preacher” pilot with “This Is the End” writer/directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg overseeing the production. As the project edges closer to fruition, the dark dreams of fans could come true as Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy, Aresface, Herr Starr and (gulp) the Meat Woman are brought to life for the first time. But who has the gumption to step up and fill Jesse Custer’s ass-kicking boots? A number of actors have the right presence and swagger to play comic’s favorite man of the cloth, with “Agent Carter” star Dominic Cooper rumored to be the top choice for the Heaven-hunted man of the cloth. But until that casting becomes official or is officially debunked, here are our picks for the man suitable to walk through Hell and become television’s Jesse Custer.
It’s become quite a tradition having British actors playing North American comic book icons: Christian Bale as Batman; Henry Cavill as Superman; Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man; Andrew Lincoln as “The Walking Dead’s” Rick Grimes. Why not add one more Brit to the mix, because Jerome Flynn would make a perfect Jesse Custer. Sure, he’s a bit older, but Jesse Custer was no kid, and Flynn has that confident air to match Custer’s confident swagger. As Tyrion Lannister’s bodyguard Bronn in “Game of Thrones,” Flynn exudes humor, confidence and a coiled potential for violence. As Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake in “Ripper Street,” Flynn displays the kind of roguish honor that is perfect for Custer. It’s easy to imagine Flynn’s eyes glowing red as he uses Custer’s signature power, “The Word of God,” and making it believable.
Skewing a little younger, we have “Lost” star Josh Holloway. At its heart, “Preacher” is a love story (a really, really violent love story). As a con man, reluctant hero and scoundrel, James ‘Sawyer’ Ford, Holloway proved he can do romance, all while busting some heads. Holloway, with his quiet Southern confidence, could easily take down The Grail and go mano a mano with The Saint of Killer’s (who really needs to be played by WWE’s Undertaker). Holloway’s last role on CBS’ “Intelligence” may not have been a hit, but he’s an actor destined to be a leading man once more. Jesse Custer could be the role that breaks him into the realm of super stardom.
Michael C. Hall
“Preacher’s” subject matter demands an actor that can go dark — really, really dark. Look no further than Dexter Morgan himself, Michael C. Hall. On “Dexter,” Hall proved time and again that he could navigate the waters of black humor with the best of them, making him perfect for “Preacher,” one of the most darkly funny stories in comic history. His intelligent glare, that confident and quiet promise of violence, Hall could fill the black jacket, cowboy boots and collar of Jesse Custer.
Since the moment Timothy Olyphant strapped on his boots and six-shooter for HBO’s “Deadwood,” it was clear he bleeds “cowboy.” Olyphant has the Southern intensity Ennis and Dillon epitomized in Custer, but most of all, Olyphant has always had that intense presence to pull off Vertigo’s Preacher. With “Deadwood” and current FX hit “Justified,” Olyphant has experience playing gritty, no-nonsense, romantic leads, as noble and heroic as they are threatening. More importantly, despite that intensity, Olyphant can pull off humor as well, proven episode after episode as “Justified’s” Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens. “Justified” has a very “Preacher”-like vibe, and with that series coming to an end and his preference for cable dramas, Olyphant might be able to step right into Jesse Custer’s boots for AMC.
Walton Goggins has been a cable television staple for years, as Shane Vendrell on “The Shield” and a scene-stealing turn Venus Van Dam on “Sons of Anarchy.” As Boyd Crowder on “Justified,” opposite Olyphant, Goggins proved he has the southern chutzpah to pull off a convincing Jesse Custer. Olyphant might have those Gary Cooper features, but Goggins has a devilish charisma and silver tongue that could make him an unexpected but perfectly apt choice for the role. As Boyd Crowder, when Goggins talks, people listen, a quality reminiscent of, and necessary for, Vertigo’s Preacher.
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