The ’90s comic Preacher is beloved by many, but it’s not an easy sell for general audiences: A possessed Texas preacher, his murderous ex-girlfriend, and a hard-partying Irish vampire team up to find God. Since the comic’s inception, Hollywood has flirted with bringing it to the screen. Directors like Sam Mendes and Kevin Smith expressed interest, but nothing came of it. Finally, after nearly two decades in development limbo, Preacher arrived on AMC in May, with bro-com kingpins Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg at the helm. We caught up with Rogen and Goldberg to hear their take on Preacher‘s many adaptation pitfalls and how they got around them.
Space Is Expensive
In the pilot alone, Preacher bounces between Texas, Africa, Russia, and outer space. That’s enough to blow anyone’s budget. “We can’t be limited by finances,” Goldberg says. “We had to get creative and do something weird.” And sometimes that meant ditching realism altogether. “We knew we weren’t going to make space look as good as Star Wars,” Rogen says. Rather than expensive (and likely still disappointing) CGI, they opted for thrifty and whimsical animations.
Religion: It’s Controversial Stuff
Preacher makes steaks of sacred cows—and while that’s great for its fans, the premise alone is enough to inspire a few angry church signs. For Rogen and Goldberg, the only way to balance the comic’s edginess with respect was to let the characters take the wheel. “You have some people who have faith and some who don’t,” Rogen says. “We try to honor the character’s perspectives without infusing our own cynical beliefs.”
75 Issues, Just One Show
With years’ worth of comic books to pull from, getting lost in the weeds—or just getting Lost—is a real danger. “We refuse to make a show where we don’t know how it ends,” Rogen says. “We’re keeping track of every little mystery we introduce, so we can pay it off in some shape or form. It’s never just something weird happening for its own sake.”
Dark-Comic Fatigue Syndrome
“One of the things people, including us, love about Preacher is that it treats readers like adults,” Goldberg says. But we’ve had a spate of dark-comic adaptations recently (especially Netflix’s Jessica Jones and Daredevil), and humorless versions of Preacher have failed before. Luckily, Rogen and Goldberg went with what’s worked for them in the past: Preacher is as witty as it ever was, and an infusion of pop culture gags (like Tom Cruise literally exploding) brings it into the 2010s with an arched eyebrow.