The wait for Preacher is finally over. The anticipated series debuted Sunday on AMC, to the delight of TV audiences. Fans of the comic have waited long time for this adaptation, but in at a recent promotional event, creators Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg explained to the press that they’ve been waiting even longer.
“The first time we had a meeting for it was, like, as soon as we were able to have a meeting for something like this,” Rogen said. “I think it was when we were filming Pineapple Express (2008). So, it was before any movie we had made come out, had come out, really.”
Rogen relates the show’s long development history, but says he and Goldberg where there all along. “I remember we had a meeting with whoever controlled the property at the time,” said Rogen. “We showed them the fight from Pineapple Express, in Danny McBride’s house, to show them that we could execute action and comedy in some capacity, and I think they were like, “Oh, okay.” And then they gave it to Mark Steven Johnson. It passed through a lot of hands. Sam Mendes was involved with it at some point. David Fincher was circling in at one point or another, I think. There were a lot of iterations of it, and we just always were very vocal to our agent, or to whoever was around who would listen, that it was something we were big fans of, and that we thought we could do a good job of adapting. And then we met Neil Moritz on the Green Hornet, and then we actually developed a very good relationship with him, and he got control of the property, probably because he heard us talking about it non-stop.”
“Then he tried to make it with two other people,” Goldberg interjected.
“Exactly,” Rogen added. “He tried to make it with two other people, who then did not do it, and eventually it found its way back to us. It fell in our laps, and by that time, there was a thing called cable television that was very popular, and it allowed us to do that.”
But before the show found a home as a weekly series on AMC, Rogen and Goldberg toyed with various formats. “We initially thought that it would like a Band of Brothers — a ten-part miniseries, because shows like this didn’t exist then at all,” said Goldberg. “And then when it as in a movie format, it was too brief. It just didn’t make sense as a movie.”
Fans of the Preacher comic will be glad to hear that, while there will be some major departures from the source material, Rogen and Goldberg have been collaborating closely with creators Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion. “We just had coffee with Steve Dillion,” Rogen said. “And we talk to Garth quite a bit. He came to our initial pitch meetings. He reads every [script], and watches every cut. He’s always been an advocate of taking a new path to allow the audience to discover the show — not adhering strictly to the comics.”
“He’ll send, like, two or three notes [each episode]” Goldberg said. “Yeah, we were originally proposing an adaptation that was extremely similar to the comic, and he told us that was stupid. He just said, as long as you don’t change the core emotion of the of the main characters, and that they’re somewhat true to the comic character, [it’ll work].”
What kind of changes should hardcore Preacher readers prepare themselves for?
“Well, Tulip is African-American,” Goldberg says. “That’s a difference… and a little sassier, I would say.”
Rogen added, “She’s a little more volatile, I think, in a lot of ways, than in the comic. And we changed the Arseface backstory to some degree — his relationship with his father.”
“I think the biggest thing we did,” Rogen said, “is that you don’t ever see Jesse being a preacher in the comics. And we were just like, ‘It’s called Preacher, he’s dressed as a preacher the whole time… maybe you should see him being a preacher.’ And so we thought it would be good to show what that part of his life was like.”
“And then there’s minor things,” Goldberg added. “We changed how Eugene’s face looks and we don’t have sunglasses on Cassidy all the time, because we want to see their eyes so they can act — just practical things like that.”
“There’s a million little things that, if you’re a big fan of the comic, might be devastating,” Rogen says. “But I think you’ll get over it, because [all the big stuff is there], I think. Fans of the comic, as the season progresses, will be more surprised at how much stuff we’re including.”
What’s not been a problem yet for Rogen and Goldberg, is incorporating some of the more extreme material from the comic into the show. “I’m surprised at what we’ve been able to do,” Rogen says. The Walking Dead has actually has provided a lot of good precedent for us to do a lot of stuff that we maybe wouldn’t have been able to do.”
“The difference with the MPAA [on movies], is we never have the conversation,” he explained. “You submit your stuff, you get notes back, and you just kind of cross your fingers and re-submit it, but with this, they call and you explain, like, here’s why we’re trying to do this, here’s what we like about it. Pretty much every time we’ve gotten to do exactly what we’ve wanted.”
One of the best things that’s most pleased longtime Preacher fans, is seeing the comic’s action adapted in a much more visceral way on screen. But just how did Rogen and Goldberg pull it off? “I feel like we’ve directed a lot of action-y stuff in our movies,” Rogen says. “We’ve done big visual effect sequences, but I feel like we’ve never done a fight scene that we were incredibly proud of, and so we really like this idea — especially in the pilot — of each character getting a fight that defines them in some capacity. And as fans of action movies, it was always disappointing when we would watch our movie fight scenes, we weren’t completely thrilled with them. So, we just put a huge amount of thought, and energy, and time into differentiating them on the show, and staging them, and choreograph them, and shooting them… to really try to get it to a standard that we were incredibly proud of.”
Want to watch the action for yourself, but you missed the series premiere? Don’t fret, it’s available to watch online for free. Preacher airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.