In its second season, AMC's Preacher is thrilling fans with love triangles, disturbing secrets, and some shocking uses of the powerful Genesis' abilities. And when co-creator/series director Seth Rogen took to Comic-Con International in San Diego with cast members Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Joseph Gilgun, Ian Colletti and Graham McTavish, things got poignant and weird at the show's press conference.
The event began with Gilgun and Negga analyzing the complicated relationship between Cassidy and Tulip. Speaking to Cassidy's unrequited love for the beguiling bankrobber, Gilgun said, "It's a bloody shame. And he wants to be honest. He wants to be honest about with his friends. I don't think Cassidy understands Jesse like Tulip [does.]… He loves her. He absolutely adores Tulip. He just wishes Jesse appreciated her a bit more."
Negga concurred, but spoke about how the show's treatment of this relationship is revolutionary when it comes to gender roles. "I think the dynamics are interesting. It feels like the male/female roles are reversed, doesn't it? He wants so be honest and have the conversation, and really pour his heart out, and have a nice share, and talk about his feelings. And she's like, 'No. I don't want to do that.'… She'd like to put that energy somewhere else. And you don't really see that, do you? Women portrayed as that."
Referring to secrets the pair are keeping from Jesse, Negga continued, "[Tulip thinks] she doesn't think it's necessary to reveal everything. She has had a life outside of [Jesse]. And that's not healthy, but it is a part of her. I think we see all of those unhealthy bits of her laid bare this season. Especially in terms of what she's been doing when she's not with Jesse."
Negga noted she's grateful that Preacher presents Tulip as a complicated, multi-faceted character with virtues and vices, implying too many TV shows don't provide such opportunities for actresses. Then she went on to philosophize, "I think those terms, 'masculine' and 'feminine,' we've really locked them in [as a society]. And I don't really think that has done us--as humanity--many favors, because we share all of them, as human beings. That's what I want to do with my work. I think that's what we want to do is, just portray humans, of everything that they are and can be."
From there, Rogen talked about the patience demanded from Preacher fans, and how he hopes it's paying off in season two. He admitted that the first season was a lot of setup for a second season. "It's a weird strategy," Rogen allowed, "because we could have just been cancelled! That've been really frustrating, but in the end, we weren't. So we got to do the thing that we were slowly building towards. Some might argue too slowly. But we are who we are."
Rogen said he hoped that fans who were awed by the secon seasond, which he feels is chock-full of "wow" moments. "That was something we really encouraged the writers to do," he explained, "To indulge in tone, and taking big crazy swings, and not try to be afraid of trying to be funny or irreverent, and to try to push the boundaries of the show as much as humanly possible."
Asked about the dark turns Jesse has been taking in Preacher's second season, Cooper said, "I've always been aware that he possesses that darkness, and I think he comes from an incredible amount of guilt he harbors about the death of his father, and the responsibility of the death of his father." He noted Jesse's upbringing didn't help matters, then went on to warn things could get even darker.
"That darkness is continually bubbling under the surface," Cooper continued, "And one thing that will certainly reveal that darkness is any threat towards the person he loves more than anything in the world, and that's Tulip. That's the only family he has, the only family he's ever known. So I think when he finds out…about the marriage and other things that have happened in the past--you know that saying about 'When someone sees red?' Really he goes black with him. He becomes extremely volatile and dangerous and quite nasty. The more the writers write about him, the more that's revealed about him, the more he terrifies me. His use of Genesis often astounds me. He doesn't use it to help his best mates in their time of need. He uses it sporadically, and sometimes for fun. It's a sort of schizophrenic nature to him. He's sort of all over the place, and it will become more unsettling as it goes."
Negga was asked how Tulip will respond if/when she learns Jesse had used Genesis on her. She responded, "Not good. Not at all. I think the reason that she doesn’t like Jesse using Genesis, she understands the arbitrary nature of power. I think she has an innate sense of decency and fairness. I think for her, his use of Genesis, she's very suspicious of it, because she understands if you have an authority, you must use it wisely. I think she doesn't understand the way he just arbitrarily uses it on everybody. It there's a fight, she wants it to be a fair fight. The scales of justice should always be balanced--even though she's a notorious criminal! But I always say she's Robin Hood rather than the sheriff, and she sees Jesse taking on the sheriff role. And it's not fair to her."
Finally, McTavish, who has brought to life the Saint of Killers on the series, spoke passionately about portraying the harrowing figure. "He goes through such an extraordinary trauma with his family," McTavish said, "You could argue that the journey he embarks on in season two, he's made his deal with Fiore to get back Genesis, and in doing so--indirectly I suppose--killing Jesse Custer. There's no animosity towards Jesse, it's a means to an end. I had to find a human reason for it, really. For me, it became a journey motivated by love, because he wanted to be reunited by his family. This is the only way he could do it."
"Now, he takes a very heavy-handed approach to it," McTavish allowed with a whisper of a chuckle, "A lot of people get in his way; they all die...It's great fun to play that character. It's like that nightmare you can't wake up from--that we've all had--where you're pursued by something that you can't get away from. And that nightmare is me."
Preacher airs Monday nights on AMC.