Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, executive producers and directors of Preacher, talk about their biggest challenges of adapting the comic for television, why their vision for the show worked and why this is the best work they’ve ever done.
Q: You’ve been interested in making this show for years. Tell us about the moment you finally found out it was going to happen.
Evan Goldberg: It was a classic Hollywood pitch scenario. The pitch was the moment and the pitch didn’t really work. We left the pitch feeling good, but we didn’t know. We got the call that they dug it. We knew once we got a shot, we could get it done, but we just didn’t know if we’d get our shot.
Q: Others have tried to make a movie or a TV show out of Garth Ennis’ comic. Why do you think your vision succeeds where other adaptations have failed?
EG: We never read any of the other projects, but from what we were told by others, they’re all darker. Our show is still dark as hell, but I think the reason we have been well-suited for this is because we get Garth’s humor. I think without the humor, it’s just not Preacher, and it’s something different.
Seth Rogen: It has to be funny. I also think the fact that so many comic books – and even ones that you would consider subversive or fringe comics – have turned into giant successes also helped a lot and really paved the way for us in a lot of ways.
Q: Was there something special about it being a TV show versus a movie?
SR: If they wanted it as a movie, we would have done it as a movie. [Laughs]
EG: No doubt. It would have been worse as a movie, but beggars can’t be choosers.
SR: We would have taken it in any form we could get. We just knew that we didn’t want someone else to make Preacher. That was really our overriding thought.
Q: What were your conversations with Garth like?
EG: He actually had to convince us to not stay as insane [as the comics]. In our heads, we were going to do it just like the comics and he said to us, “That’s not a good idea. You should restructure it. You could make it bigger and better.” His main thing has always been to not ruin the core emotional story and to stay true to the main three characters.
Q: What did you see as the biggest challenges of translating the comic to television?
EG: The main characters’ emotional stories. We had to make sure that you understood who each person was and what kind of person they were early on. On a technical level, doing the makeup for Eugene’s prosthetics was very difficult to make it look right while giving the actor space to act and stay true to the character.
Q: Were there challenges you didn’t expect?
EG: Seth got pretty into cocaine… [Laughs]
SR: I did. It was pretty rough. [Laughs] Nah, I think we started to realize that the show had a huge scope to it. We had to come up with very creative ways to address that when it’s jumping all around the world and we don’t have a ton of money. That was something we put a lot of thought into – how to really sell this idea that it’s this massive story happening in Africa or in Russia.
EG: We made the choice that no matter what, we were just going to do whatever we wanted to do. If we needed to do a scene in Hell, we were going to do it even if we had to figure out some weird way to do it. We’re not going to let money stop us. We’d just come up with some papier-mâché version perhaps.
Q: Tell us about the cast. What’s it like watching them bring the characters to life?
EG: It’s extremely surreal. When we did the camera test and we saw Jesse, Tulip, Cassidy and Eugene all standing together in a row for the first time, it was really trippy.
SR: I think how Joseph Gilgun captures Cassidy is something that I constantly marvel at. He’s one of those characters that you imagine is a fun guy to hang out with and when you’re hanging out with Joe, you kind of feel like you’re actually hanging out with Cassidy. [Laughs]
Q: How do you balance making a show for the die-hard Preacher fans with the more mainstream audience?
EG: It goes back to what Garth said. As long as we stay true to the characters and their emotions in the comic in some capacity, we can drift pretty far. We also know that the fans want what they want, but they also need to be surprised. It’s a fine balance. It’s helpful that we are both the filmmakers and big nerds about it.
Q: You’ve directed a couple of movies now. How did this experience compare to that?
EG: It was extremely different – more different than we could have imagined. The pace of television is way faster. The fight in the car with Tulip, for example, was filmed in eight hours. If this was a movie, that would have taken two or three days. It creates a situation where you have to be way more specific and plan things out a lot better. We have things story-boarded, we know what we’re getting and we’re very focused. Things move a lot faster and you get less takes.
SR: It’s like anything else with directing. You have to know when to screw yourself and when not to. [Laughs]
Watch: Tulip Fight Off a Gangster
Q: Seth, did you ever consider acting on the show? Would you in the future?
SR: I would maybe go on it at some point, sure. But it just didn’t seem like there was any organic place to put me in.
Q: Where does this rank among your projects?
EG: Everything we make is the best thing we’ve made!
Q: What are you most looking forward to after the show premieres?
EG: Halloween. The best thing ever was how people dressed up like the Pineapple Express guys for Halloween. I really want to run into some random people dressed like the cast.
SR: I hope they like the show. I’ve made things that I’m very proud of that people hate, so I don’t know. [Laughs]
Read an interview with Sam Catlin, Preacher showrunner and executive producer.
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