While “Preacher” as a comic book and a television series centers on Jesse Custer, the eponymous preacher, Tulip and Cassidy play equally crucial roles. That could be why Ruth Negga was actually the first lead actor cast in AMC’s forthcoming television adaptation of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s classic Vertigo series when she landed the role of Tulip O’Hare.
In the comics, Tulip is Jesse’s ex-girlfriend, and that’s also the case when the TV series begins, though Negga was quick to tell CBR that there’s more to her character, and her ties to Jesse, than just their current relationship status.
At WonderCon in Los Angeles, Negga sat down with CBR TV’s Jonah Weiland to talk about bringing “Preacher” to television, how closely the show will stick to the comics. She also discusses the unique nature of her character, if she knew how crazy the comic was before working on the show and what she’s learned about herself from the role.
On who Tulip is on “Preacher,” and why she’s more than just Jesse’s ex-girlfriend:
Ruth Negga: I think we’re introduced to her as Jesse’s ex-girlfriend because it’s pivotal to the actual script and the series, but I think that how we explore Tulip, how we find her throughout the TV series is we develop a relationship that is quite unique because she is a unique individual. Her relationship with Jesse is pivotal, obviously, but it’s because… I don’t know what I can talk about.
The thing about it is, I think in this season, definitely, her relationship with Jesse is — the whole season is hinged on it. But I think that what the writers and the directors are interested in is how — I think it’s a power balance, really, in the relationship. How it shifts and how they — basically, they grew up together and they’re so intertwined and it’s not just a straightforward girl trying to get her boy back. It’s a lot more complicated. He’s her life. It’s not just like a boy-girl thing, he’s her stability. He’s her anchor. I think that’s sort of bigger than the whole kind of boyfriend girlfriend thing.
On whether she was prepared for the absurdity of “Preacher” during the audition process:
I’d read the whole pilot — there were no [other] scripts at that point — but I was aware of the comic books and I knew how extreme it would be going. Also, having been familiar with the comic books, I knew Garth Ennis is a very clever writer. It’s not just about the surface kind of shocks, he’s a very, very intuitive sort of writer about human relationships. That’s another level that we are exploring and that’s very important. It’s the big stuff, but it’s also the very intimate details of human nature and human relationships. I think that’s what we’re exploring at the moment. I think people will be excited. You don’t have to be a fan of the comics to get absorbed into this world.
On whether there were moments from the comics she was afraid to perform as an actor:
I didn’t know how faithful we were gonna be to the comics, and I still don’t know, because… for whatever reasons. You know the comics, they’re very lean, aren’t they? There’s a lot going on but there’s nothing excessive in terms of — there’s nothing unnecessary in there. I think that everything that does happen in the comics is so… It’s for a reason, and everything is revisited. Everything is so thoughtfully thought out that I never had any qualms about anything, really.
On what she’s learned about the world around her from playing Tulip:
A really lovely privilege of being an actor is you get to explore different parts of yourselves that you’re not allowed to in your everyday life. There’s something that is assumed, certain rules that apply to being a human being, isn’t there? As an actor we get to break those rules and you learn that we are made up of extremes. Everybody, not just actors, we’re just allowed to explore that and acknowledge that in a really safe environment. I realize with Tulip, especially, what a privilege that is. It’s just lovely to explore. We all should be allowed to that, I think.
Being an actor allows you to be more empathetic to people and circumstances. I’m very into the idea that behavior is not who one is. Our actions don’t define us. There’s something interesting about that to me.
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