'Preacher' Showrunner Sam Catlin On Season 2's Crazy New Direction [Interview]

Preacher is back for a second season on AMC. Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga) and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) are on the road looking for God but they're not alone – The Cowboy (Graham McTavish), introduced last season, is on their tail.

Showrunner Sam Catlin developed the Preacher series alongside Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg and the second season continues to toy with elements of the comic book. For instance, Eugene (Ian Colletti) is in Hell, reliving his "Arseface" origin while the lead trio meet new characters back on Earth.

Catlin spoke with /Film by phone this week to discuss Preacher season 2. While he was tight-lipped on some spoilers, he revealed some major comic book characters coming this season and addressed some of the encounters in the first three episodes of the new season.

Did completing season one help explain exactly what Preacher is, so there are fewer questions this season?

I think so. I hope so. I feel like Jesse's mission is less abstract. He's out on the road and he's looking for a guy who goes to bars. He's a man who has an external drive and not an internal one. I feel like people have more of a sense now of the rules of the show and how weird the show can be and go with it. We definitely hope it's a lot clearer to our audience.

How about clearer to the network? Do they have fewer questions now?

Yeah, I mean, the network has always given us a very long leash in terms of that, so they've been great.

Are there more action episodes in season two?

There's so much action. John Koyama, our stunt director, we've kept him very busy. There's something in every episode and action is a big part of the show this season. The trick with action is always time. We shoot the show in eight days. It can be time consuming, so we just have to make sure that we have the best possible plan for each individual stunt sequence like that. We don't want to just do an action scene for the sake of an action scene, but there's plenty of action. We're not holding back at all.

Are there any specific issues from the comic books that season two encompasses?

No. The TV show is never going to pick up a storyline perfectly from episode to episode. It won't work. It'll never work. The narrative of a comic book is never going to be apples to apples something we can lay over onto a TV show. We'd actually run out of story very quickly. But, in terms of introducing characters that drive storyline from the comics, basically settings and story arcs for sure, we have The Grail and Herr Starr and the Saint of Killers is now on the Earth. We're in New Orleans, which plays a big part in the comic. Our goal is never to shoot the Preacher comic book story, but we want it to feel like the Preacher comic book world. The episode should feel like Preacher.

preacher starrDo you have a different way of doing The Grail and Herr Starr like you've changed some of the other comic book elements?

No. Herr Starr is who he is in the comic. He works for The Grail and he wants something from Jesse. We learn more about how he came to join The Grail and what The Grail is and all of that.

Eugene's story is a little different when we learn his backstory in episode three. Did you also know that when you introduced Eugene and Tracy last season?

Yes. It's a different origin story.

Have you thought about how you might portray God when they ultimately find him?

Yes.  We've definitely given it a lot of thought, but I'm not going to say.

Is that more of a long term encounter, or perhaps this season?

I won't say.

Is Ganesh, the magician's assistant who can't die, a completely original character?

That Fiore stage character is not in the comic, yes. Fiore is in the original comic, the angel Fiore. In the comic, they are sort of marooned on Earth and in trouble for having let Genesis out. We just decided to take that idea of what is he doing on Earth. We love the idea that he's in a sort of seedy Indian casino in a debauch, doing drugs, and has been coopted into doing this night club act.

preacher season 2Was the idea that God visited strip clubs ever in the comic books?

No. God doesn't really have a journey in the comic books. He appears and then he disappears and there's not much information given about him until the very end in terms of what he's doing. We wanted to make it feel like God was somebody who was on the Earth and somebody capable of being found. So we wanted to leave little breadcrumbs for Jesse and clues for him to chase down.

I Googled She She's and found it's a real strip club in New Orleans. 

Yes, that's right. We filmed it at She She's. We were going to call it something else and then we just loved the name of the location so much, we left it.

Has anything else filmed in there before?

I don't know. I'm not sure. They loved it.

How did Glenn Morshower's character of the priest doing extreme detoxes come about?

We were thinking about where would Jesse go to first? We had this idea of a sort of Gandalf wise elder, somebody that might be able to give Jesse some more background on where God would go. It was just sort of our take on the dissolute wise man that Jesse could first go to pick his brain about God's location.

Are the '70s film filter and driving against a projected screen part of the rules you established in season one?

Yeah, we do that very purposely. It is sort of a parallel world. It's a nostalgic world. It's a mid-70s kind of world. We do that on purpose.

Did you use front screen projection like old movies did?

Yes, we do.

Is the film filter a digital effect?

A lot of that stuff is done in post, in terms of giving it that retro grainy feel.

preacher season 2 2Is Jesse a lot more comfortable using Genesis this season?

Yeah, I think he feels a lot less encumbered by rules of good preacher behavior.

Are Jesse and Tulip a lot more free in exploring and consummating their relationship?

Yes. Certainly they've been estranged for a couple of years so they're back together when the season begins. Sort of an arc for them over the season and for all three of them is will there be increasing tension between them in terms of all the stuff and the resentments and the jealousies that come up as a result of Jesse's search for God.

Is season two still part of what you planned from the beginning of the show?

For sure. At the beginning of season one, I sort of talked to them about "this is what I'm thinking about season two." Then we brainstormed about it. We get in the room, the writers and myself, and we talk about it for a few weeks, generally where this season's going to begin and maybe where it's going to end. Then we start planning individual episodes.

So it's still season by season.

Oh, yeah.


Preacher returns this Sunday on AMC, with a season premiere dedicated to late comic series co-creator and artist, Steve Dillon.