Julie Ann Emery, who plays Lara Featherstone on Preacher, talks about her character’s dedication to her mission, why she’s enjoyed all of her scenes with Ruth Negga and how things change for Featherstone and Herr Starr.
Q: Featherstone seems to be on her own mission this season. How has she changed from when we last saw her?
A: I don’t think Featherstone thinks she’s on her own mission this season. I think she’s still trying to get Jesse via Tulip. But there’s an arrogance to Featherstone this season that surprised me, but was very fun to play. She’s the right hand of the Allfather and they’re in Masada, so she’s very large and in charge. As Starr starts to go down this rabbit hole of being more obsessed with his own physical appearance than he is with maybe the work at hand, Featherstone plugs a lot of those holes. And I easily command large groups of Grail men at my beck and call, so I think there’s an arrogance to her. And then when the fight with Tulip and Featherstone comes to basically a draw, we see some of that rage again that we saw in Season 3. But mostly Featherstone is living her best life as Season 4 opens, for sure.
Q: Featherstone has had a lot of run ins with Tulip, from Masada to the car chase. What do you enjoy most about this rivalry?
A: First of all, Ruth [Negga] and I really love working together, and those days on set when it’s the two of us doing scene work together are some of our favorite days. I love that we have a battle between the two women on the show, and they are prize fighters. They are incredibly equally matched. I think there’s hate there, but there’s also respect, and they’re both women living in a man’s world and being kind of large and in charge in a man’s world, and I think that these two women probably understand each other better than anyone else in the world. If they could get themselves on the same side, I think there would definitely be a lovely sisterhood there, but I think they kind of need each other, even though they keep trying to kill each other. I think they see a bit of themselves in each other. It’s been a really lovely relationship to play. You know, when I was cast in the show, I was really happy and relieved that they were willing to have another kicka– woman on the show. That doesn’t always happen on a comic book series; they already had Tulip. I love that they really run with that comparison side-by-side.
Q: Starr is trapped with a bunch of cannibals and Featherstone is the one to save him. What does that mean to her?
A: That scene inside the cave is so interesting because he’s so vulnerable and the way Pip [Torrens] looked at me in that scene was so full of need and vulnerability, and I think Featherstone became immediately wildly protective of him. It’s also probably the greatest moment of her life that she saves him [because] he has to see her. He looked me in the eye and saw Featherstone. His power play over her is to never fully acknowledge her, to not fully acknowledge her abilities…and he plays that so beautifully, but that moment, it’s so completely flipped that it’s just everything, it’s everything to her.
Q: How does that perhaps change Featherstone and Starr’s relationship?
A: We’re going to see that in the two episodes to come, in 9 and 10, for sure, so I don’t want to spoil that. But it definitely shifts the dynamic a lot. Just in the fact that he sees her, that he notices her and acknowledges her, is a big shift in their dynamic. It’s one thing when he’s so ravaged, but then when he becomes perfect again, that dynamic shifts once again between him and Featherstone. So it feels a tiny bit fleeting. It’s a very interesting sort of turn of events that happens in the last few episodes of the show.
Q: She also saves the Messiah! How good is Featherstone feeling about herself right now?
A: I’ll say it again — there’s an arrogance to her this season [because] of course she saves the Messiah. It’s interesting because it really affects her emotionally to save Starr, but the saving of Humperdoo, she immediately goes into good soldier mode. I have a cousin who’s a Marine and sometimes the mode Featherstone clicks into feels like that to me. Of course she’s supposed to save the Messiah. Of course she’s supposed to save Humperdoo. Then she immediately goes into a sort of bodyguard mode for Humperdoo and a mode of keeping him safe. She takes that job very seriously. She clicks into good soldier mode so easily and so quickly. The Starr moment definitely has more impact, but she gets down to business with the Messiah and he’s serving a purpose for them.
Q: What’s Featherstone thinking when she sees a new and improved Herr Starr?
A: Here’s something people might be surprised by — I think she’s completely confused by it. When Featherstone meets Starr, he’s already got the eye going on and he’s bald. He’s not perfect when she meets him and yet, to her, he is the perfect embodiment of what a man should be or what power should be. There’s a very cult-like love going on there, from Featherstone to Starr. She almost worships him, not quite. But I don’t think she thought there was anything wrong with him. The scars to her just made him more a symbol of power, more manly, more a symbol of full dedication, more a symbol of doing and going to any lengths to doing anything to accomplish our mission. So I don’t think she’s fully comfortable with the beautiful version of Starr, and I don’t think she understands why he would want that, why that was important to him.
Q: What was it like bringing this series to an end?
A: On a personal level, it was kind of heartbreaking because we’ve been together for three years now [Emery joined in Season 2], and Preacher is not a procedural show in a hospital or anything. It’s very challenging. We all go through a lot to get the season done. We spend a lot of our downtime rehearsing the fights, so, even on the weekends, we work a lot with each other preparing for stunt scenes or fight scenes. Preacher‘s full of the best scene partners you could ever ask for. There’s a very high level of the work going on. The level of discussion about any scene is very high. I feel like we all push each other to be better and better, even in these absurd circumstances. Everyone wants to know what the beat is and what’s happening. I’ve stopped a fight rehearsal before because I was like, wait, there’s a beat change here, what am I thinking? I think that’s not something you find every day on television. I’ll miss the work itself terribly. I love that we were able to wrap up the story. I think a show like Preacher and a story like Preacher deserves its ending, so I’m thrilled that we are getting our ending and I’m thrilled that we’re able to deliver that to the fans. But I will miss my Preacher family terribly.
Q: What is the wildest scene from this series, in your opinion?
A: I would say Preacher continually raises the game, in terms of that question. I mean, I was a fan of Season 1, and when I saw Cassidy in the airplane [in the series pilot episode], fighting all the guys in the airplane and falling out of the airplane — that was one of the wildest things I think I’d ever seen.
Then, in Season 3 [Episode 9, “Schwanzkopf“], Jesse and Starr fighting in the Allfather’s guts and Jesse’s soul coming out of his anal cavity I thought was maybe the craziest thing I had or ever would see on television. And I was there the day they were shooting that. They were both just absolutely covered in fake blood. It was crazy.
I mean, I got thrown off a cliff this season. There’s so many candidates for the craziest scene on Preacher. Cassidy pulled his hands off to get out of the handcuffs. And then there’s the angel and demon fight. Insane and wonderful. Sometimes I feel like Sam Catlin and Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, I feel like that’s one of their goals is just to up the game on the craziest, wildest scene in Preacher. But the Season Finale — I haven’t seen it yet — but it has to hold the craziest scenes from the series. It has to. If it filmed in any way to the way it read off the page, you’ll be able to choose that scene for yourself at the very end.
Read an interview with Tyson Ritter, who plays Humperdoo and Jesus.
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