There’s no doubt that AMC’s Preacher was one of the most highly anticipated new shows of the season this year. While The Walking Dead is still a big hit on AMC, the network has been looking for another dark, intense show like Breaking Bad – and they may have found it in Preacher.
While everyone knows that Preacher is based on a comic book, it’s a far different type of show than the comic book-inspired series that regularly air on the major networks during prime time – such as The Flash, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Supergirl, etc. Audiences around the world have become obsessed with shows based on comic books that feature characters with superhuman powers. However, as a whole, those types of shows tend to be based on high-octane action plots rather than gritty character profiles. That’s where Preacher is different.
A lot has happened on the show since its premiere just a few episodes ago, but the main takeaway is that it doesn’t necessarily seem like a comic book show. Instead, it seems like the type of gritty drama audiences have been waiting for – and if you haven’t seen an episode yet, you should definitely check it out.
Here are 15 things you need to know about AMC’s new hit show, Preacher.
15. It’s Based On A Comic Published By Vertigo, DC’s Line For Mature Readers
Given that the public’s obsession with all things comic book and superhero is at a peak lately, television and film executives have been mining even the most obscure comic books for inspiration. And, everyone who has heard anything about Preacher knows that it’s based on a comic book, and everyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past couple of years has heard about DC Comics. While the Marvel universe is having a bit of a moment on the silver screen lately, DC Comics isn’t far behind – it’s the universe that houses characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. However, Vertigo is a slightly darker sub-branch of DC Comics, designed for mature readers and containing stories that are a bit murkier than the typical DC hero tales. The comic inspiration behind the series is without question darker and more disgusting than the average tale – and that’s part of why audiences are intrigued.
14. The Main Cast Isn’t Southern At All
Many actors have grown incredibly skilled at mastering various accents, from British to American. After all, it’s part of their job to be able to play different characters from different parts of the world. In fact, some actors have spent so long playing characters with accents different to their own that it’s startling when they appear on a talk show with their natural voice. While everyone but Cassidy on Preacher has a southern accent, thanks to the show being set in Texas, it’s not something that came naturally to any of the cast – though they’re such naturals that you might think that their accents are genuine given how well they pull them off. Dominic Cooper, who plays Jesse, is British, and Ruth Negga, who plays Tulip, is Irish. And, while he doesn’t need to master the southern accent, Joe Gilgun, who plays Cassidy, is actually not Irish – he’s from northern England, meaning he’s had to practice his accent as well. Who would’ve guessed?
13. Seth Rogen Is Involved
Since his debut in Hollywood, Seth Rogen has crafted a name for himself as a fantastic comedian, both starring in and writing comedy hits. However, he’s not content to be limited to a single genre – and he’s also not afraid to branch out from what people know him as. Rogen and his long-time writing partner Evan Goldberg have been involved in developing the show and writing for it, alongside AMC veteran Sam Catlin. And it’s not just Rogen wanting to break out from his mold on a whim – he decided to tackle the project outside his usual genre because he was a huge fan of the comic the show was based on. It’s a bit of a passion project for the multi-talented Rogen, and as episode after episode unfurls, he’s beginning to show audiences that he’s far more skilled than his slapstick fart humour films might suggest. Sure, he can pen hilarious comedies – but he can also bring something with far more substance to the screen.
12. There Have Been Several Attempts To Adapt It Before
After watching an episode or two with all the crazy plot twists and characters, you might be asking yourself – why on earth has someone not attempted to adapt this comic before? It’s great material! Well, they actually have. In the 1990s, there was supposed to be a film adaptation with the book’s own writer drafting the script, and Kevin Smith producing. However, the project had difficulty getting funded due to the dark and irreverent material, and the whole thing was eventually abandoned. Then, HBO was looking at it as a potential TV series – but surprisingly, they also found it a bit too violent and dark for their tastes (yeah, we’re talking about the same network that created the gruesome Game of Thrones). Finally, director Sam Mendes was allegedly attempting to make a film adaptation, but the project was once again abandoned somewhere along the way. Here’s hoping that AMC’s adaptation lasts!
11. Sam Catlin Is At The Helm
Due to his celebrity status, Seth Rogen has been the figure behind the scenes getting the most attention for his involvement with Preacher. After all, to the general public, he’s definitely the most recognizable face. However, any television fans will be more excited to hear who the show runner for the new series is – Sam Catlin. Catlin began working as a television writer about a decade ago, and cut his teeth on a few projects before joining the crew of Breaking Bad in the second season. Through his time there, he went from a writer to a supervising producer and finally a co-executive producer. Catlin essentially went through a master class of gritty drama telling the story of Walter White, and that’s the kind of experience you can’t pay for. Given how incredible Breaking Bad was, Catlin’s name being attached to the project was a good sign that audiences were in for a fantastic show.
10. Ruth Negga & Dominic Cooper Are Dating In Real Life
Getting the right kind of chemistry on screen can be a tricky thing, and so far in Preacher, the focus has been on exploring the individual characters a bit more than on exploring their romantic relationships. However, Ruth Negga (Tulip) and Dominic Cooper (Jesse) will likely have no trouble if their characters end up in a more intimate storyline – because the two have actually been dating since about 2010, and even live together in London. They’ve managed to keep their relationship fairly private, and of course the fact that they live in the UK rather than in Hollywood likely helps with the paparazzi a bit. It seems as though the two are in it for the long haul, having been together for over half a decade, but we’re hoping they don’t get pulled into the group of actors who end up splitting after working together. Filming television shows can involve long hours and a lot of stress, so we’re hoping it doesn’t impact their real life relationship.
9. It Doesn’t Stay A Slave To The Source
Literary texts – from novels to comic books – can be a fantastic starting point for films and television series. After all, they’re absolutely packed with interesting characters and plot lines that a skilled writer could transform for the screen. However, what works in a comic book or novel doesn’t necessarily translate to the screen, and a show needs to be able to take the best parts of their source material as inspiration and make changes to allow it to better suit the small screen – and Preacher manages to do that. Diehard fans of the comic book who were expecting the source’s text to play out word for word on the screen may find themselves disappointed. However, for the average viewer who may not have ever read the comic books, the television adaptation merely takes the best of the source material and adds in flourishes that allow it to shine on the screen.
8. The Comic’s Creators Are Very Involved
It’s not always possible to get the creators of a text involved in the screen adaptation, particularly if you’re adapting older texts from decades past. Sometimes the original author is no longer alive, and sometimes they simply have no time or interest in getting involved with the adaptation beyond merely signing over the right to use their text as inspiration. However, in Preacher’s case, it was possible to get the creators involved – and they were thrilled to be a part of it. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, the talented individuals who created the comics, didn’t simply sign off on allowing their source material to be adapted for the small screen. They’re involved in the writing of the show, and have even been involved in the press and promotion leading up to it, including doing Q&A sessions with cast members and attending the SXSW festival for the screening of the pilot.
7. The Main Cast Are Well-Versed In The Comic Book Universe
For many actors, landing a role in a film or television series based on a comic book is a dream ticket. You’re almost guaranteed to get tapped for other projects taking place in the same universe, and the international audience means you immediately grow your fan base. Who wouldn’t want the promise of steady work in their volatile acting careers? Well, none of the main cast are strangers to playing characters from the comic book universe, or characters with supernatural powers. Dominic Cooper, who plays Jesse, plays a young Howard Stark in films from the Marvel universe, and has also appeared in Marvel’s Agent Carter. Ruth Negga, who plays Tulip, appears in Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And, last but not least, while Joe Gilgun (Cassidy) hasn’t been in the Marvel universe before, he did play a major role in Misfits, where he had superpowers – so acting like a supernatural creature shouldn’t be that tough.
6. Preacher Is The Fourth Recent Show Based On A Vertigo Source
When it comes to the big screen, Hollywood is all about the classic DC universe, the typical heroes and heroines – Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, etc. However, when it comes to television, audiences seem to prefer something a bit darker and less known – at least, that’s what the show history seems to suggest. Preacher was based on a property by Vertigo, a sub-branch of the DC universe, and it’s not the only time that television executives have looked into Vertigo for inspiration – Constantine, iZombie and Lucifer are all recent television shows that take their source inspiration from the Vertigo universe. While classic characters are well suited to a relatively short two hour film, the types of gritty, darker materials at work in the Vertigo universe are able to truly shine when there’s time for the storylines to unfold bit by bit, from episode to episode. We’re almost curious to see what else they’ll dig up from the Vertigo archives, based on how good their track record is so far.
5. Anatol Yusef & Garth Ennis Used To Be Neighbours
When it comes to the world of Hollywood, it seems countless celebrities and screenwriters/producers/directors are rubbing elbows in their homes in the California area. After all, there are only so many luxury gated communities to choose from! Stars live near one another, go to the same gyms, shop at the same grocery stores, and generally live life in a celebrity bubble – if they live in California, that is. However, when you travel all the way to the UK, it’s somewhat surprising to hear about two celebrities that live in such close proximity to one another. You may be surprised to find out that Garth Ennis, one of the writers and co-creators of the original comic book series, and Anatol Yusef, who plays the character DeBlanc on Preacher, used to be neighbours. What a small world! Although now that his comic is becoming a hit television show, we’re assuming that Ennis likely has fancier digs than he did back in the day.
4. It’s Not For The Faint Of Heart
Individuals who absolutely hate violence on screen and are easily offended should definitely not watch Preacher. First of all, the entire show revolves around religion, a somewhat touchy subject for many individuals. The main character, Jesse Custer, is trying to grapple with the strange angelic/demonic presence that has taken over him, and he’s torn between good deeds and heinous acts. Second, the show definitely doesn’t shy away from showing all the gory details in scenes of battle or violence – I mean, who could forget the scene where the man literally rips his heart out of his chest after the force inside Jesse has advised him to “open his heart.” And finally, while the series is only a few episodes in, the comics have a truly staggering diversity of cringe-worthy characters – if even a few of them make it to the small screen adaptation, there’ll be a lot to deal with.
3. Jesse Custer Is An Anagram
Names hold a lot of significance, and you can believe that they’re not chosen lightly. Preacher has its fair share of interesting names, such as Tulip and the iconic character Arseface, but the truly surprising name is the main character’s – Jesse Custer. No, the names themselves don’t stand for anything significant – it’s the letters in the names. Jesse Custer, the preacher’s name, is an anagram of secret Jesus. That’s right – the man grappling with the idea of a god and with the reality behind what his strange powers involve is named secret Jesus. If that doesn’t make you think, we don’t know what will. We’re also kind of wondering if AMC has some type of clause for their television shows that dictates there has to be at least one character named Jesse – I mean, Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, Jessie Anderson from The Walking Dead, Jesse Custer from Preacher… it’s strange indeed.
2. It’s Actually Filmed In Albuquerque, New Mexico
Everyone knows that many television shows or films aren’t actually shot where they say there are. Sure, many shows are shot on a sound stage or set in Los Angeles or New York City, and they definitely do filming outside in both those cities. However, filming can be expensive – and sometimes by filming somewhere a little more unusual, crews can get their work done for less money. AMC first went to Albuquerque, New Mexico to shoot the iconic series Breaking Bad. Apparently they loved filming there so much that they decided to stay, because while Breaking Bad was actually set in Albuquerque, Preacher is very clearly set in Texas – so the choice to film in Albuquerque is interesting. Either way, we bet that the New Mexico board of tourism is pretty excited about all the new visitors who will be coming through the state thanks to all the popular shows that have been shot there!
1. The Comic Was A Best Seller
Some books enjoy a slow rise to popularity, winning fans over little by little before eventually sweeping the nation as everyone tries to get their hands on a copy. Preacher, however, has been successful since the get go. The first volume of the comic book series was released in 1995, and less than two years (and 14 issues) later, sales for the comic book doubled. That’s a huge deal. Since the comic book market lately is so saturated with new series and products, it can take a lot for something to stand out, and Preacher definitely did just that. While you never truly know what stories will translate well from a book or comic book to the screen, sales figures like Preacher had demonstrate there’s something in the source material that audiences are drawn to and interested in – and material that gets viewers hooked is exactly what you want in a television show.