One of my favorite shows on television is AMC’s Preacher, which is based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s comic series and brought to life by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, and Sam Catlin. Loaded with crazy characters, graphic violence, sick humor, and really well done action set pieces, Preacher consistently surprises and it’s like nothing else on TV.
If you’re not familiar with the story, Preacher started off with an inaugural season that was essentially a prequel to events that happen throughout the violent graphic novel, which revolves around a preacher (Dominic Cooper) who has inherited a power called Genesis (a supernatural entity that has chosen his body as a host and gives him the power to make people do whatever he says). Now entering its third season, the show is using more of the source material as it follows Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper), his girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga), and his friend and vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) as they search for God.
With Preacher season 3 starting up Sunday night on AMC, a few days ago I got to speak with Dominic Cooper. He talked about what it takes to make an episode of Preacher in eight shooting days, what the third season is about, how much he knows about each season going in, the unique nature of the show, the changing relationship between Tulip, Jesse and God, if he can leave the character he’s playing on set or does some of it come home with him, what would surprise people about the making of the show, and a lot more.
Check out what Dominic Cooper had to say below and tune in Sunday night if you want to see some fantastic television.
Collider: How are you doing today, sir?
DOMINIC COOPER: I’m doing real well. How are you doing?
I’m doing excellent. Let me start by saying how much I love the show. Thank you so much for giving me some time today.
COOPER: Thank you very much. Very kind of you. I’m glad you like it. Have you seen the first one in the third … Did they send out screeners?
Yeah, I saw the first two episodes of season 3.
COOPER: Oh, cool.
I think the one thing that I’m so impressed with is how much you guys are able to accomplish on an eight-day shooting schedule. What the hell is it like being the scenes, trying to pull off a show with this kind of scope in such a short period of time?
COOPER: I mean, I’m always amazed by it. I think what it is, it’s an incredible crew of people who work extraordinarily hard. And as I’ve always witnessed whenever I work in this country, I’m just like, it’s just mind boggling. But they all do it because they love it, and they love the show, and they care about it and they know that we’re ultimately trying to make something of such high quality in such a short space of time. And the more we’ve got to know our crew in New Orleans and the people there that all know each other so well now, it runs very efficiently and very smoothly. And that’s the only way in which we can achieve it.
And each department now is sort of … I suppose it’s just, when something’s been going on this long, when the same people have been working together for this amount of time, I think it’s the only way you can start achieving this kind of level of quality in such a short space of time. And we’re making it, I mean it sounds really, you know, eight days. And that with the amount of stunts … And that with the amount of fight choreography, different locations, just the scale of it, in that space of time. It’s like, I think, all down to the logistics, how they put the schedules together, and how the crew understands and works with one another. And how we interpret the scripts now and can kind of come up with ideas, and we know the characters so well that we can kind of … Everything just starts happening much more smoothly after this amount of time. Which is why I’m very worried that we may be leaving that environment. Because of the necessity of the changing storyline. But it would be a big shift to lose the people that understand it so well on a day-to-day basis.
How much did you know about the arc of the season for season 3 before filming the first episode? Or are you sort of finding it out piecemeal, script by script?
COOPER: Well, I went into the writers’ room quite early on. So I kind of got an understanding of where they thought it may be heading. And so I had an idea of which themes we were going to look into, and which characters. But really you have no … And you start to understand it as it unfolds, where it’s going to go. And who’s going to be talked about, and which character becomes the forefront of the storyline. But no, you still … And it also catches up to you so quickly. It’s something, you know, that you’re doing in eight days, every eight days. And you just had your head immersed in that, and then suddenly you’re on to the next script coming in, and you have to start … So you kind of, by the end, you have no idea and you’re just suddenly seeing this script with incredible things that the crazed minds of the writers have come up with.
One of the things that I love about the show is that it’s a blending of this fucked-up humor, violence, action. There’s nothing like it on television.
COOPER: Yeah. I think that that’s what they’ve managed to kind of, that’s what they’ve managed to achieve so, so brilliantly. I think that they’ve got the mix, the level of that, so perfect. So that you can jump from being horrified by the gore and the danger of it, to finding it very endearing and finding the romance in it, and the love and the heartfelt human story. And then the utter, out and out violence. Then the comedy. You know. And I think that that’s exactly what they … And to where it really keeps finding itself.
And I think that’s what has been intriguing about it as well, is that you can screen a show, really trying to find how extreme it can be. And what I think we’ve been finding out more and more is, it’s never extreme enough. And the further you go with this stuff, the better, the more dangerous, and the more risks you take. Then it’s more funny. Then it’s more shocking. Then it’s more … It’s just each and every step you take, you can go as far as you possibly think you can go. And I think that that’s kind of always been the mantra from the writers’ room to the fight sequences to every aspect of it. And the more we do that, the more successful it is.
It’s also because, you know, now that you’re in season 3, everyone has figured out, well how many action set pieces can we do in an episode. How many stunts can we do. You know, like, figuring out the infrastructure of making the show is just as challenging as writing it.
COOPER: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. I mean, tuning the infrastructure and putting it together and how … the choices one makes. But I think what we found a lot is that you … The thing you’ve got to be careful about, the more extreme you become and the more outlandish and the more lunacy there is, and the more crazed it becomes, it is hard to put together a schedule where that can be shot in eight days. And I think that that’s the balance. And that’s down to good producing, and kind of just keeping an eye on how far those things can go. And a good balance between writers rooms and creatives and between AD and people on the ground that can understand, fathom, whether we can, whether it’s achievable.