Joseph Gilgun, who plays Cassidy on AMC’s Preacher, discusses why New Orleans is more than just a party for Cassidy, the burden of keeping Tulip’s secrets and the troubling truth about foreskin.
A: I think Cassidy definitely expects it to go smoothly, but he also expects trouble and he’s looking forward to it. He’s stimulated by what would normally stress out a normal human being. He finds it fascinating and he studies those moments. I think more than anything, he’s terribly excited to get out of Annville and on the road and into some sh–t. He’s banking on it and only hopes he can get into some trouble, but unfortunately it isn’t the trouble he was banking on.
Q: Things get crazy quick in Episode 1 when the Saint of Killers shows up. What does Cassidy make of that melee? Does Cassidy actually get scared of much?
A: There was a bit of concern. I don’t think he enjoyed that. [Laughs] He got set on fire, and we know how painful that must be for him. He’s probably been set on fire once or twice in the past. During the day, he tends to be a bit bad-tempered because it’s his night time. The Saint is a real worry to Cassidy. This guy can kill angels and if he can kill angels, there’s nothing that’s stopping him from killing a vampire. The initial bit of trouble they get in knocks him aside a little bit. I don’t think he was expecting it to be as bad as it was. He gets wrestled to the ground by police and then they start goading him once they realize the sun sets Cassidy on fire. The general fear of being set on fire by all these troopers is just too much to handle. He’s just happy to get the f–ck out of there by the time Jesse rolls up with the umbrella.
A: It was incredible. Scenes like that are a rare thing, and they’re so special. Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] really do let you take the lead as an actor and you can play around. For a whole chunk of that montage, there were just props there to make stuff up. At one point, we were even going to put our Director of Photography in the hot tub with us for a single shot, which would make no sense, like, “Who the f–ck’s that guy?” We decided not to. Turns out he’s scared of bubbles. [Laughs] Working with Tom Brooke, who plays Fiore, was phenomenal. Tom really does carry that scene. He’s remarkable. He’s one of those actors you can give any role to and he’ll pull it out of the bag. My favorite part is the very small section of the scene where we’re dancing in the hot tub and it goes from like 50 frames per second – it’s kind of slow-mo – and then it goes to real time and you get to see how terrible we are at dancing. So, for a very brief second, you get to see how horrific it would have been on the actual day for the men and women standing around us. It was an amazing scene to film, and I loved it.
Q: Despite the depravity, there is a sweetness to those scenes. Do you think Cassidy has developed a genuine affection for Fiore over time?
A: Absolutely. Cassidy does watch and listen. He can see that all Fiore needs is a friend. He’s just bloody miserable. They’ve become very intimate through the endless murders and his attempts to kill Fiore, but he genuinely does care for him. Even though Cassidy does have an agenda, he can’t help but enjoy himself. I mean, he’s doing the things he loves. He loves drugs, he loves debauchery of any kind, so he’s already in a good place, but on top of that, he does have affection for Fiore. You have to have some sort of empathy to spot that somebody needs you and needs a friend. I think it’s more than just “Let’s get information out of this guy.” He genuinely wants to get wrecked with Fiore, and Fiore’s become quite an interesting guy. He’s now on TV, and the last time Cassidy saw him, he was trying to kill him in a hotel room, so he’s worth exploring. Much like Jesse early on, he’s pretty fascinating. Cassidy likes that and he’s stimulated by interesting people.
Q: Jesse and Tulip almost get married in Episode 2. How does Cassidy feel when he learns that? Is he relieved when it goes sideways?
A: He finds out about this wedding, and it’s initially a big blow. He’s not expecting it. It was a very “in the moment” decision. Maybe there’s even an element of relief. I didn’t play this, but maybe there was relief that they were getting married because that means he definitely can’t have her now. Who knows? But when he finds out they’re not, he doesn’t necessarily celebrate it. He probably saw it coming to some degree, but he’s probably sorry for Jesse. He can see it’s affected Jesse, and he knows there’s a bit of an open wound there. It’s not as much about him as it is about what’s happened and how it will impact that relationship with the three. He needs Jesse, and he needs Tulip because they keep him on the straight and narrow, so seeing that bridge weakened would be quite frightening for Cassidy. He needs all three cogs working in the machine for it to be functional for him. When they decide not to get married, it’s almost like mom and dad saying they’re going to split for a little bit, but there’s still definitely an element of relief, for sure.
Q: Cassidy is already keeping secrets from Jesse, but Tulip adds another one in Episode 2. Are his feelings for Tulip worth taking on that added pressure?
A: I think as a general rule, Cassidy is actually quite honest and has been trying to do the right thing since meeting Jesse, who’s on this quest for redemption. Part of Cassidy really respected that and wanted to take that on-board. You meet people in this world and you take parts of them with you that you admire. You try to implement them in your own life. He wants to be upfront and honest with his friend. I think it’s been a long time since Cassidy has met anyone that he really cares about, and it really messes him up that he can’t talk about what went on between him and Tulip. This is really difficult for him. He’s got an unusual moral code, but when it comes to ‘fessing up and being a man, he wants to do that. He’d rather have it out in the open and suffer the consequences than keep it locked up inside. Maybe that’s why so many people have died hating Cassidy. He can’t help but be honest about who he is and what he’s done. When he knows he’s got to keep this secret for the sake of Tulip, it’s a lot to bear on top of what is already a heavy weight on his shoulders.
Q: In Episode 3, the gang ends up back in New Orleans. Does Cassidy feel at home in a place like that?
A: He seems to approach everything with a really positive attitude, even the sh–t stuff. I think he was really looking forward to getting to New Orleans and having a party. We all have this preconceived idea of how we think things are going to be, but Cassidy doesn’t seem to listen to the bad voices saying, “Listen, there’s stuff in New Orleans you left behind that could be problematic.” He’s focused on getting drunk, someone punching him in the eye at some point and the normal debauchery that he enjoys. He’s not focused on the trouble he runs into. The interesting thing is that by the time he gets to New Orleans, he’ll know what’s waiting for him and what he has to go visit. Denial is not just a river in Egypt, is it? Cassidy’s got this positive outlook on how this whole thing is going to be even though he hasn’t visited this area of his life in a long time. Obviously, life has its way and proves him very wrong.
Q: How would you describe Cassidy and Denis’s history/relationship?
A: Cassidy rolls up at Denis’s place and clearly, he’s not a fan of Cassidy. Cassidy’s done something at some stage to Denis. When we roll up at Denis’s apartment, he’s furious. So, it’s like, “What the f–ck has Cassidy done to this poor man?” Who knows? He’s definitely icy and even though you’ve got this man barking at Cassidy in French, he’s still seeing what he wants to see and hearing what he wants to hear. It’s that denial thing. He knows that Denis hates him for some reason. We don’t know why. Cassidy knows why, but he still tries to make light of this bloody tsunami of French abuse. You can visibly see that he’s not happy he’s there, but he carries on like the best of friends. I think he thinks that by rolling up with a beautiful girl and a priest, Denis is probably going to think he’s changed his ways.
Q: What does Cassidy make of all of Tulip’s angst about being in New Orleans? Is he upset that there are some secrets she won’t share with him?
A: He’s an old man, and he can see that she really isn’t ready to talk about it, but she has to. He needs to know. He’s at a stage where it’s like, “You’re going to have to tell me. Otherwise, I’m going to have to be angry with you.” He’s trying as best he can. He sees she doesn’t want to give him that information, but it’s a concern to him. He feels he has a right to know what’s going on. It’s the way he’s being treated – like a sidekick. He’s feeling like a third wheel. What he’s saying in that moment is, “Don’t treat me like sh–t. I’m not a pushover. Just be honest with me like I’m honest with you.” She knows he’s never going to judge her. He’s incapable of judgment. I mean, look at him. Unfortunately, it does open a massive can of worms and now he’s got another secret to keep for crying out loud. It’s probably better he didn’t know, but he wants her to do the right thing by him.
Q: Last season we got Cassidy’s complicated feelings about The Big Lebowski. What do you make of his new pet obsession with foreskin?
A: My mind’s blown by the foreskin thing, really. I’m as blown away as Cassidy. I couldn’t believe people are rubbing d-ck skin on their face — and more than anything that that sh-t works. Like, you can grind up a piece of penis into some other weird sh-t, and then women — and men — rub that sh-t into their face. That is fascinating. I don’t know why people aren’t talking more about that. It should be covered more. I think Cassidy’s overwhelmed by the idea of it. It’s super f-cked up, man. [Laughs] That’s what Cassidy is doing: He’s bringing cultural awareness. You need to know you’re rubbing a bunch of d-cks in your face. People don’t even know they’re nuzzling d-cks every day, and they’re paying good money for it. You may as well just nuzzle a bunch of d-cks. [Laughs]
Read a Q&A with Tom Brooke, who plays Fiore.
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