Executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who directed Episodes 1 and 2 of AMC’s Preacher, discuss upping the action in Season 2, why the Saint of Killers is so scary, and why they’ll always have a soft spot for Fiore.
Q: Taking what you learned from Season 1, what was your chief creative goal coming into the second season?
Evan Goldberg: When we made the show originally — based off just how many comics, including Preacher, had different artists — we wanted to make the seasons and different locations have different vibes and create a different kind of cinematic language. So, we always planned on having the first season have one vibe, a little more mysterious and brooding, and the second one amp up the action and the road trip element, and kind of really embrace New Orleans, where we end up.
Q: Is it difficult to amp up the action and the crazier aspects of the show but still keep things a bit grounded? How do you find that balance?
Seth Rogen: Who knows if we do? [Laughs]
EG: I mean the balance of action is budgetarily something you just have to deal with. We’re always limited in how many fights we can have, but I feel like we got a much higher amount of cool action and a lot more tense situations into this season than the first one, because the first one kind of answered the basic mystery of “What is this all about?” and the second one has us on a mission to find God, and we are on that mission.
Q: How do you think having that mission changes Jesse Custer as a character?
EG: It definitely focuses Jesse and puts his eye on the prize, possibly to the deficit of his relationships with other people. It certainly starts to become strenuous throughout the season.
Q: How did directing these two episodes compare to the ones in the first season? Since you weren’t setting up the world as much this time around, were you able to dive into the crazy more?
EG: It was incredibly fun the first time, but [this time] the team was established and … the speed at which everyone worked and how well they all understood each other really enhanced the experience. And it just felt like whatever the opposite of putting on a wet swim trunk is. Putting on a nice pair of socks? [Laughs]
SR: The scripts are really different and the themes are really different. The show is kind of always throwing new stuff at us directorally. It’s one of the reasons it’s one of the most fun things for us to do because really, it’s always pretty different. There were no massive shootouts [or] weird ‘70s car chases last season. There’s more in the first few minutes of this season that’s different than what we did at all last season. So, it’s just always fun because we get to try new things.
EG: There will always be a soft spot for the Fiore story. The Fiore story was just so weird and not something I think anyone would ever be able to predict what happened because of how unbelievably weird it is. For me, that holds a place in my heart.
SR: That was a lot of fun to do. We enjoy doing non-verbally driven sequences, so it was cool to do a long sequence that really had no dialogue — that was kind of just visual joke after visual joke.
Q: What about Cassidy and Fiore’s day of debauchery?
EG: That was just fun to film because those kinds of things you always have no time whatsoever to film them. If you’re doing some kind of crazy montage you have to run around like maniacs just getting shot after shot after shot because you need so many to make a good one. It’s always fun to film something like that, and it’s fun to film Fiore and Cassidy together because they have kind of a magic, brotherly bond.
Q: What are some of the other challenges of doing those big set pieces?
SR: Sometimes it’s just logistical things, like for the vending room scene, the actual vending machine was not at the same place as the actual hotel and things like that. So there’s just little, logistical things like that you have to wrap your head around at times. But it was mostly just really fun, honestly.
EG: The emotional journey of the three main characters becomes pretty tumultuous over the course of this season. They start to find some fractures in their fellowship.
Q: What do you think having that triangle at the center of the show does for Season 2?
EG: Someone can always relate to one of the three characters. [We have] three big, main characters who have different agendas. It allows you to keep things feeling energetic and threatening at all times because different teams can team up and different dynamics can form over the course of the season.
Q: We know you guys love the Saint of Killers. What’s it been like seeing him wreak havoc in the modern world?
SR: That was actually maybe the most challenging part of the season was finding how to integrate him into the real world, because as soon as he’s not in Western town, you kind of have to reimagine his presence a little bit. But I think it turned out really well, and he’s very scary. He killed a lot of people. [Laughs]
Q: What aspects of the comic are you most excited to see brought to life this season?
EG: For sure, Herr Star.
SR: For sure. It’s a little different [from the comic] as to how it all plays out, but the cornerstones are the same.
Q: Now that you’re adapting the comic more directly, are you still in disbelief that this fantasy from your youth is actually coming true on TV?
SR: It’s crazy. It’s very exciting. We feel very fortunate, more for this than our own families. [Laughs]
EG: If you liked the first season, you’re going to get more of the same but with more action. And if you didn’t see the first season, you should see the first season, and then see this one!
Read a Q&A with Tom Brooke, who plays Fiore.
Preacher airs Mondays at 9/8c. To stay up-to-date on all the latest news, sign up for the Preacher Insiders Club.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, executive producers and directors of AMC’s Preacher discuss making Season 2 even crazier, bringing the show closer to the comic and the energy of shooting the new season in New Orleans.
Q: Season 1 was sort of a prequel to the comic. How does it feel to really be diving into the storyline you love so much in Season 2?
Evan Goldberg: It’s super exciting and it’s a tonal shift that is really energizing. We have a lot more action, and it’s a fun way to kick off the second season.
Seth Rogen: It’s nice to have all the characters together. The first season, we kind of kept them separated and were building up their backstories. Now, to have them all on the same mission and physically in the same place is very exciting. I think it adds a lot to the show.
Q: How are you using what you learned making Season 1 to expand/deepen the show in Season 2?
SR: One thing we found was that the big swings we took that we weren’t sure would work really tended to work and people really seemed to like it. When we looked at the show, we really liked those moments and we think those were the moments that really carved out our show as truly unique. There’s so much stuff on television, and we put a lot of thought and conversation into really trying to double down on the fact that we had a show that could handle a lot of incredibly original ideas and that we should really try to deliver as many of them as we could.
Q: You guys once again directed the first two episodes of this season. How do you think your episodes set the tone for the season to follow?
EG: When we went out to New Orleans, it was important to work with the new crew to set the same kind of tone on set — the work and fun that the crew is having, that’s appearing on-screen. We have several different tonal shifts in this season, so it was really fun to set a start point, but it’s going to have a big evolution over the course of the season.
SR: The good thing about the show, honestly, is that there’s not a template for it. We really encourage the directors to try different things. We have certain aesthetics that we try to maintain throughout the show, but we want what the show looks like to be as much a part of the exciting, unpredictable element of [the show] as what the story is – as long as it supports the story. I think a lot of shows fall under the same look, and we don’t tell our directors that every scene has to have a master and a two shot and a single. We really say, “Try to be creative and think of exciting ways to bring this to life.”
Q: What was it like shooting in New Orleans as opposed to Albuquerque? What did the new location add to the story?
EG: It’s one of the most fun places in the world and, to me, the most fun place in America. Sadly, for us, most of our story doesn’t take place in New Orleans. Cinematically, we had to make New Orleans not look like New Orleans, but being there was thrilling. The story’s gotten a lot more on track with the comic, and the comic has a huge road trip element that takes place in New Orleans. So I think the fans know that how we ended the first season implies that we’re getting into a lot of the comic elements more and expanding the whole universe. Everything was smaller in Texas. We were in a small town, there were a small amount of people, small sets and areas, small streets. Now we’re in a crazy, giant city with people walking around, so it’s a whole new ball game.
Q: How does taking the action on the road impact the storytelling?
SR: I think the first season is very much about how the characters are stuck in this town, so as soon as they’re moving, I think the show takes on a completely different feel. There are certain kinds of expectations that are nice to play off of on a road trip, and when there’s someone on your tail chasing you, it helps the road trip idea, which is certainly the case with them.
Q: What are you most excited for fans to see in Season 2?
SR: We introduce the Grail in this season, which for us is one of our favorite elements of the comic. It’s a super secret organization bent on world domination that starts to work its way into the story. [Laughs]
EG: My favorite is always the Saint of Killers, but there are a few new characters that have been created that I think are incredible and I’m excited for fans to discover. It’s always cool to do stuff from the comic – and we’re doing a lot more of that now – but they created some pretty wild things in that writers’ room.
Preacher premieres Sunday, June 25 at 10/9c. Watch the Season 2 trailer and check out first-look photos from the new season. To stay up-to-date on all the latest news, sign up for the Preacher Insiders Club.