Preacher is the latest in a long line of comic book titles to be adapted for television. This new series from actor Seth Rogen and his producing partner Evan Goldberg is a prequel to the Vertigo comics that tell the story of Jesse Custer, a preacher in a small American town who becomes possessed by a supernatural creature. In the Amazon Prime 10-part series we get to see what set Jesse off on his path of religious and supernatural struggles.
The first episode screened at the MCM London Comic-Con and was met with rapturous applause upon finish. I was one of the people lucky enough to see it, and found it to be just as dark and menacing as the comics. It’s a show that really is not for the faint of heart and those who struggle to deal with religious and satanic symbolism.
Dominic Cooper’s Custer is a gruff, bearded Preacher who, while young in years, is world weary in life. At one point in the first episode we see him ask God for a sign otherwise he is ditching the faith. This idea that those of “the cloth” can lose faith is an intriguing one and hopefully it continues through the rest of the season. Cooper makes Custer a likeable if somewhat hard edged character; you’ll root for him in some parts of his life, but in others you’ll hate him. He appears to come to life when fighting. There is an energetic fight scene that sees Custer beat down a handful of men with ease. It’s filmed in close quarter and at zippy pace.
Cooper more than handles his own in the fight scenes and that’s something we’ve never really seen from him in other roles. It’s going to be interesting to see where this character is taken. We also see the introduction of Tulip (Ruth Negga), a sexy female who kicks the living daylights out of a couple of men in a moving car before coming to a stop and talking to two kids about education. She seems like a fun character and one that will come more and more into the story arc as the season progresses. The true champion of the first episode is Joseph Gilgun, who plays Cassidy – an Irish character with a penchant for getting drunk, spouting sarcastic lines, getting drunk, telling jokes, oh and getting drunk. Not much can be gleamed from the first episode as to who Cassidy truly is, but one thing is for sure – you don’t want to fight him. Set u[on by a group of men while he's working as a barman on a private jet, Cassidy uses anything and everything at his disposal to takes them down one by one – including a silver platter tray, a bottle of very expensive champagne and a spear.
Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, has a tendency to put out much darker material than your flashy, gimmick-y Marvel stuff. Preacher won’t be for everyone, but for those craving those unusual, slightly left of centre comic book adaptations such as Blade, The Crow and The Dark Knight then Preacher is one to check out.
After the screening, Cooper was on hand to discuss the show. When asked if he was worried about how long it had taken for Preacher to finally make it to the screen (it had been gestating for a decade, either as a film or TV series), Cooper said that he was aware there had been other variations floating about but knew this one would finally make it when he flew to LA to meet with Rogen and Goldberg. Here, the two producers set about trying to explain the synopsis of Preacher. Cooper was struggling to understand most of it, but when he saw the passion they both had for the project then he knew that it was on the right path and he had to be involved.
Asked if he had ever read the comics before signing on to star in the show, Cooper was honest and said he had heard of them but never read them. He remembers older boys at his school being locked away in their rooms reading it and then never mentioning it. He never got to read it then. It was only when he was going to be involved in the show that he purchased all the graphic novels and devoured them very rapidly.
When asked what drew him to the show he cited that Preacher reminded him of Twin Peaks. In that it wasn’t afraid to jump genres. Also that Preacher wasn’t scared to take on religion. He did admit that part of the draw was that he found it difficult to understand the character initially. He spent a long time trying to “find Jesse” and it was only when the finished scripts came in that he could understand the back story to the character. He spent time listing to preachers from the south of America in order to get his accent correct. However, he did say that it took a while to finally nail it and he was back stage listening to the end of the pilot and cringed occasionally at some of the times where he felt he hadn’t got it right.
Cooper spoke about the comedy element in the show. He believes they managed to keep the tone of the original work. So the humour works alongside the ghastly and vivid depictions of violence. Also at the centre of it is a human storyline and that’s why it’s such a rounded piece of work.
• Preacher is available on Amazon Prime