AMC 'Preacher' Showrunner Sam Catlin on Violence, Comedy and Religion

The producer of ‘Breaking Bad’ details his new show.

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Following the premier of Preacher this past Sunday, the show will be on air for the next 10 weeks via AMC. Consisting of a 1950s sci-fi intro, an Irish vampire, incredible fight scenes, and the real life character, Arseface, the pilot was an entertaining watch tinged with subtle deadpan humor. Originally created by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon, Preacher may have successfully been adapted for the smaller screen by showrunner — and Breaking Bad producer — Sam Catlin and longtime comedic partners Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. 

Having previously failed to translate the critically acclaimed comic into film, fans were worried that the TV adaptation may follow suit. However, the past few years have proved AMC’s deftness in altering the comic book plot lines for television without losing core comic fans. In a recent interview, Catlin to discuss creating the show, religion, and his influences. Read the full interview over at Screencrush.

Did you rely a lot on the comic to find the right voice and tone for the series?

Yeah, absolutely. I mean that’s why we’re all here because Garth [Ennis] created this crazy, over-the-top, fun, smart, irreverent world. If details are changed or this is moved to there when it was in the comic over here, we always want to have the show that feels like Preacher, that feels like anything can happen.

It also has a mixture of grotesque violence and humor. Do you think that evolved as a result of teaming up with Seth and Evan, who are known for their comedy?

Hm, no. It evolved pretty seamlessly. I wouldn’t say it broke down to, they were comedy and I was drama, or I was drama and they were comedy, anything like that. It was really more about what’s in Garth’s comic as opposed to playing to our own individual strengths. And he has a lot. There’s a lot of comedy, like really broad silly characters and sort of Monty Python-type absurdity. But there’s also this Tarantino stuff and there’s David Lynch stuff. So I felt like we were all pretty much on the same page early on about what the tone of the show needed to be.

It also has a mixture of grotesque violence and humor. Do you think that evolved as a result of teaming up with Seth and Evan, who are known for their comedy?

Hm, no. It evolved pretty seamlessly. I wouldn’t say it broke down to, they were comedy and I was drama, or I was drama and they were comedy, anything like that. It was really more about what’s in Garth’s comic as opposed to playing to our own individual strengths. And he has a lot. There’s a lot of comedy, like really broad silly characters and sort of Monty Python-type absurdity. But there’s also this Tarantino stuff and there’s David Lynch stuff. So I felt like we were all pretty much on the same page early on about what the tone of the show needed to be.

The show’s subject could also be a controversial topic for religious conservatives. Were you ever worried about backlash?

Yeah, I’m disappointed. I’m waiting for the backlash. I thought the Republicans would be coming after us. I’m sure there will be. I’m sure there will be people who’ll get angry about it and they’ll say “that’s horrible.” But I honestly, I think Christians are a part of American life. There’s millions and millions of Christians in this country and this is a show that’s about America and about an immigrant’s view and a movie’s view of America. Religion is a very important part of our identity, it just is, and our lead character is a religious man.

So to me it wouldn’t be a challenge, it wouldn’t be interesting, as a secular humanist from Massachusetts and my two Canadian Jewish millionaire Hollywood celebrities, it would be easy for us to just write a TV show that was like, “Oh, religion is the cause of all evil in the world.” And certainly we have characters that say that and believe that vehemently, but to me I want – everyone should have a good argument. The people who are religious, the people who are against religion, and everyone in between, I think they need a voice on the show. That to me is what’s the fun challenge about it, because everyone has feelings on religion. It’s a very passion topic and it’s so relevant to this country and to the world. We sort of, in a way, we respect all of it and we also make fun of all of it and all those points of view.

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