Joseph Gilgun, who plays Cassidy on AMC’s Preacher, talks about playing a unique vampire on TV, his character’s relationship with Jesse and leaving blood trails everywhere he goes.
Q: What was your exposure to the comics before you were cast?
A: I didn’t know anything about it. I’m not a comic book guy. I can’t read very well. I did struggle when I started reading the comics. I understand Cassidy more than anything, but I’m still making sense of some of the comic. That’s how mental it is.
Q: Cassidy is unlike any vampire we’ve seen on TV. Did you consciously try to differentiate him, or were you mostly relying on the source material?
A: Well, who doesn’t know what it’s like to get pissed and stoned and drugged up? Our generation does that and I think it’s a bit like the ‘60s. We’re a bit unapologetic. I don’t think there’s a single person who couldn’t play Cassidy who’s male. I was just the lucky one to get him. It’s funny because a cross doesn’t bother him, holy water is just wet, silver bullets just hurt terribly and stakes just cause a splinter or infection. He’s like a normal human being. Even the sun – if he sorts himself out – it just itches and it’s just uncomfortable. He’s like an old angry man when in the sun. We made him that way because if vampires really did exist, it would be that kind. There wouldn’t be as much mystery and etiquette. There’s no etiquette behind Cassidy’s vampiric nature. He’s just a turd of a dude that won’t die.
Q: How do you think Cassidy ended up on that plane in the premiere episode?
A: We meet Cassidy when he’s just been fired from a casino. It’s unexplained for you as an audience to imagine what terrible thing he did. I’d imagine it’d be something aggressive and sexual… I don’t know. [Laughs] I don’t know why he’s on the plane, but I know he’s lost his job and he’s with all these sociopath businessmen.
Q: Two episodes in and you’ve already been in two huge fights. How fun and challenging are those to choreograph and shoot?
[Laughs] You read it and you’re just like, “For f—k’s sake! That’s so incredibly awesome that I get to do that!” I remember Evan [Goldberg] literally taking me by the collar of my neck and telling me about the chainsaw fight. That’s the kind of excitement you’re dealing with. You pick up a brand new script and you can’t read it fast enough. We’re a real family and it’s organic and very honest on set. When we film the scenes where there’s a lot of work involved, everybody knows what to do and is patient with each other. It’s always good fun. It’s a rock and roll set. There’s a lot to do and we’re all friends. I truly believe that the attitude we have towards filming rubs off and you see that.
Watch: Behind the Scenes of Cassidy’s Mile High Melee
A: I think he just loves killing people and he’s gotten quite good at it. He’s been doing it for years and I don’t know if the novelty of killing idiots like that ever wears off. I’m sure there’s a whole chunk of the world who’d love to be able to do that to extremists.
Q: Then again, Cassidy was also protecting Jesse. How would you describe their relationship?
A: I think he sees a lot of himself in Jesse. Jesse is seeking redemption for this life of hurting people and I think Cassidy is quite curious to see how this journey is going to work out. I think that’s how it starts and he ends up accidentally caring about Jesse. He senses a bit of adventure and once upon a time, maybe Cassidy was on a path of redemption, but as time rolled by and life carried on being cruel, he learned to accept the fact that debauchery and rock and roll is fun.
Q: In Episode 2, Jesse says some hurtful things to Cassidy. How does he take that? Does he think Jesse’s right?
A: We all have those friends who you don’t have to agree with to be your best mate. You almost test them and see what you can get away with. Whether you like it or not, you’re going to stick around. They both know the raw end of one another. That’s when you really love someone – when you know them, warts and all.
Q: You’re covered in blood for a lot of scenes. Does that get old or does it add to the character?
A: I’m found from the trails of blood on set. There are handprints in my trailer and it looks like I’ve killed several kids in there. In my home, there’s blood all over the bathroom and my sheets are red. There are smears of blood everywhere – my coffee cup, my e-cigarette, my chair cover, everything. It’s in my ears! When I shot the pilot, I was living in a hotel and the clientele got used to this man walking through the lobby with tons of blood. You have the option of getting cleaned up, but I’ve learned that what I need to do is steal an entire bottle of hand sanitizer. The alcohol breaks down the blood. I’ve learned a method for getting it off – that’s how much blood there is.
Q: In Episode 2, Cassidy shows he’s no fan of The Big Lebowski. What do you think?
A: I’m glad you asked! The first time Sam [Catlin] wrote that, I was furious because I adore The Big Lebowski. I love the Dude and I’d do anything to be him. The story is a fantastic one and we both love the Coen Brothers. He knows that I love The Big Lebowski and he tried to wind me up when he wrote that line.
Preacher airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Sign up for the Insiders Club to be the first to receive Preacher exclusives and updates.