Sam Catlin, executive producer of Preacher, shares how Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg brought him onto the project, how it compares to working on Breaking Bad, and why fans of the comics will be pleased with the show.
Q: Seth and Evan have been working on this for years. How did you come to the project and what was the collaboration like?
A: Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen came to me and said, “There’s this comic book that’s the greatest thing ever and we want to make it into a TV show. Will you take a look at it?” I took a look at it, and I couldn’t believe it was even made into a comic book let alone to try to turn it into a TV show. It was just this incredible, amazing, over-the-top, profane, irreverent and silly comic. It took me a while to wrap my head around it ever being a TV show, but we started to figure it out.
Q: You were a co-producer of Breaking Bad since Season 2, which was filmed in Albuquerque. How does it feel to be back to do Preacher?
A: It made a huge difference for me, personally. There was so much of the crew that we got to use from the Breaking Bad days and we were on the same stages. I think our last shot was basically right in the footprint of Walter White’s house. I was in the same offices and in the same hotel overlooking I-40. It was great. Albuquerque is a great place to work and it’s easy to get to and from Los Angeles. It definitely made the whole experience that much easier.
Q: Breaking Bad was a heightened show, but nothing quite like this. Do you find any similarities between the projects?
A: It’s a very different tone in the sense that Breaking Bad was meticulously, ruthlessly and humorously grounded in reality. Vince [Gilligan] was very meticulous and it’s the details that are one of the things that makes the show so amazing, in my view. It’s the organic and granular human behavior. Preacher holds itself to no such standard. [Laughs] It’s really much looser and broader and it incorporates a lot more elements and genres. I will say that Preacher wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for other shows that were as ground-breaking as Breaking Bad was. Breaking Bad, despite all of its naturalism, was a very big swing for any network. Game of Thrones, Sopranos… all these shows were shows that probably shouldn’t have worked, which is why they were so great in the end. There are so many great and innovative shows now, and audiences have become so sophisticated and jaded about what’s new. It’s only now that something like Preacher can see the light of day.
Q: What’s been the greatest challenge of adapting Preacher for the screen?
A: It was thinking, “In what ways is it normal? In what ways is it grounded? In what ways is it accessible to somebody who doesn’t know what’s coming?” That’s sort of where we got the idea of making Jesse a preacher in something more than just name only. He actually has a flock and there are small-town people with a sheriff and a mayor and a woman who plays the organ. It’s creating a world that’s familiar and accessible to people who don’t know any better, and then filtering and bringing the craziness and ratcheting it up bit by bit so that by the end of the season, it’s our entire audience that knows that anything is possible.
Q: Tell us about the core trio of characters and how those relationships drive the story of the first season.
A: Jesse is, in a way, running away from his past, which was a very dark and criminal past where he did a lot of really bad stuff… stuff so bad that he actually thinks he’s in serious danger of going to Hell. So, he’s come back to his hometown to atone for his sins in his own way and to save the souls of the parishioners in the town. Tulip is also from that town, but she’s been out in the bad world and getting in all sorts of her own trouble. She’s coming back to town to drag Jesse back into their criminal past. That’s the tension of the first season. Cassidy literally falls from the sky. Wherever he goes, he drags trouble with him and he’s hiding out from some characters that are after him. Jesse is trying to manage the straight and narrow, but he has these two forces pulling him that are anything but straight and narrow.
Q: What can you tell us about the entity that’s able to exist within Jesse?
A: The entity in him is a creation of some very good and very evil sources. It has very good and very evil parents. It finds a host in Jesse because he has very strong instincts for good, but also for sin. It’s sort of a compromise that the entity makes by staying inside Jesse.
Watch: The “Entity” in the Opening Scenes of Preacher
Q: Is the show actually about religion or is that a backdrop to explore larger themes?
A: It’s a theme, but I wouldn’t say it’s central. To me, the show lives and dies on its characters. One of the things that’s great about Garth’s comics is that it really has become like a quest and road journey. It’s a religious quest, but in a way, it’s sort of a Trojan horse for three badasses who hit the road, looking for revenge.
Q: There’s already been some outcry from comic book fans. Are you writing more to the newbies or the long-time fans? How do you strike that balance?
A: It is a balance. The show has to work on its own as if [the comics] never existed, but it’s been fun for us to write knowing that there are going to be Preacher fans – and there are a lot of them – out there watching very carefully. We try to parcel out clues, hints and little winks to them to let them know, “We know what you’re waiting for. We know what you’re looking at. Don’t worry. Be patient.” We tried to drop in little things that only the Preacher fans will pick up on. That’s actually been a lot of fun.
Q: Are you hoping the comic fans will be patient?
A: It would be better than them tracking down my children at school and kidnapping them and taking them into the desert to torture them. [Laughs] Although, the show probably hasn’t succeeded if there aren’t death threats.
Q: What’s been the most fun about the show so far? What are you excited for fans to see?
A: This is a world that has lived in Seth and Evan’s heads – and so many people’s heads – for so long and I’m excited for people to turn on the TV and say, “Wow! They did it! They actually did Preacher on TV and it’s not diet Preacher.” I think a lot of people are going to say that. Some people are going to be disappointed, some people will be confused, some people will be angry, but I don’t think anyone will be indifferent. I’m confident about that.
Read an interview with Preacher executive producers and directors Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg.
Preacher premieres Sunday at 10/9c on AMC. Watch the opening scenes, see the trailer, go on the set with cast and creators and check out a sneak peek on amc.com now. Plus, sign up for the Insiders Club to be the first to receive Preacher exclusives and updates.Read More