Ruth Negga, who plays Tulip O’Hare on Preacher, talks about Tulip and Jesse’s relationship, her rivalry with Featherstone and what it felt like to end the show.
A: I actually think it speaks less to the volatility of their relationship than it does to his own psychology at this point. I don’t really think their relationship is terribly volatile in the sense that it sort of reduces them. I think that they have a very intense relationship, very emotional.
I think these dreams are linked more to Jesse’s own psychology at this moment and to do with his own insecurities and his fears that maybe he can’t protect her and feelings to do with the shame and guilt that he may feel about all the trouble that his actions have visited upon her since they’ve come back together. I think maybe it’s more about the flames that are constantly licking at their heels as a result of his mission and his hero’s journey — and unfortunately the repercussions of that have sometimes been negative when it comes to Cassidy and Tulip.
Q: Jesse asks Tulip again if she’s slept with Cassidy. She lies. Why?
A: I don’t think she’s in a place where she can deal with the fallout. She’s not ready to confront her own guilt about that, and I think she doesn’t trust that it won’t just damage their relationship forever in a way that will never be resolved. And I think that she feels now at this time, for whatever reason, that this could be the thing that unravels them finally and fully. And I don’t think she can risk that.
Q: What is Tulip thinking when she realizes Jesse left her?
A: Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it? I think there’s a certain amount of anger there and disbelief, but also it revisits that kind of old pain and doubt that maybe she isn’t good enough for him — and that he’s finally realized that, and that’s why he’s gone and that she’ll never be good enough for him. It’s insecurity. I think they’re all plagued with insecurities at this juncture.
Q: With Jesse gone, Tulip decides to go after Cassidy on her own. Why does she do that?
A: I always thought it’s because he’s her last hope in terms of a connection that is a loving connection, and I think she decides to invest in [Cassidy]. I think she thinks she doesn’t really have anything else, and I think that this mission gives her a sense of purpose and invigorates her. I think that when you become decimated by grief and shame sometimes you need something of a hook, and Cassidy provides that hook for her.
Q: Tulip says that Jesse isn’t coming back for her. How does she know?
A: I think maybe she’s just giving voice to her fears. Deep down, she hopes he will. Sometimes we give voice to our fears to make them less scary and also to will them into not happening, if you know what I mean. She’s not sure yet, and perhaps if she says it out loud, then it will take the curse off us and it won’t make it real.
Q: Tulip successfully tricks Featherstone! Can we expect more from Tulip and Featherstone’s rivalry this season?
A: Quite a bit actually. Yeah, quite a bit. We have quite an amazing fight scene that is really exciting because it’s like a meeting of equals. You know, these are equals. They’re matched. And it’s quite exciting because the way we shot it is that you don’t really know who has the upper hand. And there’s also this continuation of a theme — it feels that they’re locked into some sort of never-ending psychological and physical battle. It’s like an anti-love story, you know? There’s this constant begrudging respect they both have for each other because I feel like they’re really the only other women in each other’s lives and I think they’re impressed by one another. I mean, they would never admit it.
Q: What did it feel like to bring this series to a close?
A: Well, it’s very sad and I felt quite melancholic about it really because I loved our cast. It’s been a huge journey. I’ve spent more time with these two boys [Dominic Cooper and Joseph Gilgun] than I have with anybody. We dearly love one another. I just got a message from Joe saying [he’s] thinking of me, so there’s a genuine friendship there and knowing that that’s going to be the end of that portion of the journey of the friendship is quite heartbreaking really and bittersweet. But I do think there’s only so long you can hunt for God. I mean, where would we go next? You’d have to take it interplanetary or something. I feel like we didn’t need to stretch anything out. I think the comic books come to a natural end, and I think that this worked.
I remember shooting the final scene. I wasn’t feeling terribly sad doing it because it didn’t really feel real. It still doesn’t because we only wrapped a few weeks ago. After you spend months doing a TV series, you need awhile to un-discombobulate your mind and rest your body and come back down to earth, plug back into normalcy. I just slept for two weeks after we wrapped, to be honest. And then there was the madness of Comic-Con, so you’re kind of reunited briefly. I think now I’m just trying to absorb the fact that it’s over, really, and I’ve said before that I think it will truly only descend on me when it comes around the time that we begin shooting again, which is usually January, that I’ll feel this sort of strange severance, that I won’t be with Tulip anymore and the boys. That’ll be strange.
Q: Do you have a favorite memory from shooting the show?
A: When the three of us are together, probably in the car, just having a crack, shooting the breeze and whatnot. Really it’s just hanging out with our cast and just laughing a lot. That was very important. It’s the humor and the goodwill and the kindness. And the irreverence of the comic book can’t help but bleed into the relationships that you all have. Nothing’s out of bounds. It all becomes very heady. I feel very lucky to have been part of this.
Q: What’s the wildest scene from this series, in your opinion?
A: Just the acres of blood and just all the vomit. So disgusting. There’s a famous scene this [season], it was so disgusting we became angry shooting it. It was horrible. I will never be able to smell, let alone eat, minestrone soup ever again. Like sand, it gets everywhere. Wait ’til you see it.
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