To say that “Preacher” is a highly anticipated series would be an understatement. Premiering Sunday (May 22) on AMC, the program inspired by the Garth Ennis comic book series already has a huge following and the hype behind the new show might be polarizing to some fans. However, from what we’ve already seen, it feels like Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s take on “Preacher” will be the summer show to watch.
To prepare for the premiere, Zap2it sat down with Joseph Gilgun who plays Cassidy on the show. He’s brash, he’s Irish … and oh yes, he’s a vampire. During the conversation, Gilgun touched on a wide range of topics including his obsession with “Call of Duty,” what Cassidy’s favorite music would be and his undying love for smoking the green stuff.
Zap2it: First and foremost, I’d like to apologize to you as for the longest time I was of the mindset that your Cassidy should be wearing sunglasses constantly. Really, though, you do a great job here without them on in every scene.
Joseph Gilgun: I think, as well, it’s worth saying only dickheads wear shades indoors … but [Cassidy’s] not one of those stylish wankers. You know, those trendy types where I think he’d just want to fucking kill ‘em. So, he’s an old dude and I think wearing shades indoors is for wankers and that’s my take on it, know what I mean?
Your introduction on the series is one of the best scenes I’ve seen on TV in a while. Was there a lot of choreography to work out?
There was a lot but not as much as you’d think and it’s not as serious as you’d think. Honestly, man … I love getting into that stuff. I’m quite a durable character. I’m like a penis.
Yeah, you can just beat me up for years and years. But yeah, he’s durable. He’s like a penis. Filming those sort of scenes … most actors will tell you it’s fucking great fun. It’s daunting in the sense that you’ve got a lot to learn. It’s got to be very believable and you know there’s going to be a lot of filming and, at times, there will be little time and it’ll be quite stressful. But, you’ve gotta remember you’re not saving lives in this industry. We’re not like fucking surgeons, we’re making good fun television. As long as you bear that in mind … and also the violence we use is heightened comedy. It’s just ridiculous. People are getting kicked in the nuts a lot, like really horrific stuff.
Like ‘The Three Stooges!’
Yes! Silliness. The violence that exists in the world is brutal and unpleasant to be around.
Well there’s a necessity for violence in the movies and TV, really.
Yeah, it’s what we are and it’s a violent world but it’s quite nice and quite refreshing to have some violence that makes you bloody laugh.
Speaking of bloody violence, you’re playing a vampire on television.
Yes, very astute of you.
But while that feels like a trope that may be played out, you’re playing a very different kind of vampire. Cassidy has a very old school punk aesthetic, in the books and here on the series. So … my question to you is this: if Cassidy were sitting here right now, what are the five musicians he’d choose to put on the perfect mixtape?
Right! OK! There’s one song I’ve been listening to recently, let me see if I can find that fucker. I think that it’d be The Doors. That’d be one of his favorite bands, I reckon. What’s that fucking song by The Doors … ?
‘Break On Through?’
That’d be one, definitely!
Really? Why The Doors?
Because of the nature of the band itself. The drug use and the rock and roll. I’m a “Backdoor Man” kind of a geezer. I think, “I’m Shipping Up To Boston” by The Dropkick Murphys. “Whiskey in the Jar,” old folk songs like “Fall Down Billy O’Shea.” I’m not sure if anyone has heard of Billy O’Shea.
I haven’t but I’m looking it up now.
Check out “Fall Down Billy O’Shea,” that poor bastard had it really hard.
Now that we have the beginning of Cassidy’s internal soundtrack, I’m wondering if you were at all familiar with the comic book before taking on the role.
No. I’m lazy. I’m a lazy pothead. I like playing “Call of Duty.” I can’t really read …
Which ‘Call of Duty?’
“Ghosts.” I’m still on a Playstation 3. I’m not into exoskeletons. I just can’t … they’re everywhere, these kids. It was bad enough in “Ghosts” when they were on the ground but now they’re fucking everywhere, these bastards. They’re jumping out of nowhere, quickly shooting you up the ass and pissing on ya and then you don’t even know where they’ve gone. It’s too late, it’s already happened.
Honestly, I don’t know where we’ve gone.
“Call of Duty,” man! I’m just sick of being raped by children on “Call of Duty.” They are good at it. They are just so good at it, man!
Kids nowadays are brutal.
And those swear words! I got called a “fucking greeper” the other day. When I asked what it was, this little girl told me to “fucking Google it.” That’s what I was told. Little bastard! That was the first time I started feeling really old! I’m too old for this, I shouldn’t be playing it. Then I just went back to my pathetic life for a second.
Wait, your life is not pathetic.
It is a little bit.
No. I refuse to agree. You’re about to be everyone’s hero. You do realize this show is going to be huge and people will be cosplaying as you at Comic Con.
Oh, don’t let this be a window to your future. Don’t look up to this … “Call of Duty” pothead.
OK, well to try and get us back on track here, I’m curious what your biggest challenge may have been on the show as an actor … playing a vampire … in a comic book western.
Yeah, it’s insane isn’t it? I think the biggest challenge for me originally, was finding him. Because what I was actually going to do without realizing, which is fucking super lazy, is I was just going to rip Rudy off and give him an Irish accent and just wing it on the day. You can’t do that and Cassidy ended up being completely illegible. Since the pilot, I’ve sort of reigned him in and also grounded him. Just grounded him a bit because he is insane. The shit he’s talking about, the stuff he’s doing is nuts and you have to sort of … it’s funnier and more realistic if you play him straight. It’s been about finding the tone of that. Do you know what I mean? Knowing when to be a stupid bastard from when not to.
In the comic books, Cassidy was a very lonely character who yearned for connection. It seems that the backstory being established on the series is straying from the original Garth Ennis story but it looks like there’s a growing connection and relationship being established between Cassidy and Jesse (Dominic Cooper). Are we going a similar route here with their friendship?
I think originally it was like he was just curious about Jesse. This journey this guy is on seeking redemption for the things he’s done … I think he saw that in him and maybe saw a bit of himself in there as well. Maybe at one stage, Cassidy has tried to seek redemption for the terrible things he’s done to people and himself. As the years rolled by, maybe just got a bit pointless but suddenly now, he’s stuck in this place again, you know, he’s gotten in this shit and has to move here … fucking alone again, pissed off and with no fucking money. He just wanted to buy himself a bottle of whiskey in a bar, if he even had money for that, you know?
We’ve all been there.
He didn’t end up paying for that and got sent straight to jail after the bar fight. But … I think it started off, I think he was curious about Jesse, this brand new human being he’d met and this weird fucking plan that he thinks God has for him. More than anything, though, he’s sort of sticking around because he has to. He has no money and this guy’s actually really bloody interesting. He accidentally ends up caring, you know what I mean? Ultimately, people die and leave him and I think for the first time in a long time, he’s willing to settle in and love somebody again and let them die. He’s worth it, for some reason. He’s a fucking interesting character. He’s aloof but available … he’s a dick but a hero! All them things, so why wouldn’t you stick about to watch it play out. It’s a piss in the ocean for Cass. Jesse is a complete rackhead. He’s probably got another ten years left in him …
Wait, hold on. What is a rackhead?
Yeah, you know, like a fucking beer drinking monster.
Is it possible to shadow you for a week to fully get the lingo down?
That’d be bad man … we’d both be on heroin and be in a very disturbing relationship.
I feel like we’re already in one. But at least we both have fancy hats.
We’re like a pair of magicians. We could be in a band.
See, it all comes back to the music with Cassidy.
Oh, Elliott Smith and Father John Misty. They’d be on that mixtape too.
“Preacher” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.