AMC’s “Preacher” had a very bloody Episode 2. Although it initially looked like two characters, DeBlanc and Fiore, were getting the ax early on in the season, there’s more to these two mysterious hitmen than meets the eye. Variety spoke with Anatol Yusef (DeBlanc) and Tom Brooke (Fiore) on what to expect from their supernatural characters this season, the experience of shooting that crazy fight scene with Cassidy, and how surprisingly easy it was to get cast in AMC’s new drama, produced by Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Sam Catlin.
Have either of you read the comic?
Yusef: No, but Garth Ennis was my neighbor in New York. So that’s my relationship to the comic before the job. Trying to be true to a character is a slightly dangerous game because we’re not the writers. You get a lot of information from the script so it allows you to start your own imagination as to what you can bring to it. You kind of meet halfway. If you bring in the source material it can be a little constricting when it doesn’t need to be, because we’re making a show.
Brooke: I brought it over with me and read it before the pilot. I never read a comic like that. I wrote a lot of questions down. I read my bits and our bits in the comic and I had a lot of questions, but none of them got answered. It didn’t really matter though, because it became clear that the show was a different thing and the series was living by its own rules. It wasn’t beholden to the comic. We looked completely different, dressed very differently. I just enjoyed the comic but there wasn’t much I felt I needed to honor — there was more meat in the script than in the comic for my character.
What was shooting that bloody church scene like?
Yusef: It was the first scene we did, so we were kind of thrown into it. We had a really great stunt team which we had worked with a few days before so it was choreographed really well. I have to say all three of us who did the scene picked up the choreography quite quickly. The challenge wasn’t so much remembering the moves or the blood but the challenge was to establish our characters within those scenes, because it was the first scene we shot after the pilot. These scenes are a bit like a dance and we all dance quite well. On a film, a fight that size, you might have three days but we did it in one. We were really well supported by the stunt team.
Brooke: We had little tweaks didn’t we? When we took it out of the rehearsal room and into the space. It was so much fun to do, it felt like it went really well and surprisingly quickly considering we took a whole day to do it. Everybody was covered head to toe in blood at the end of the day. In fact, I think photos of us covered in blood were in the makeup truck for the rest of the job because it looked so extraordinarily ridiculous.
Your characters are so far very mysterious. What else can you tell us about them?
Yusef: We are on a mission. We are here to get the power within Jesse and we want to take it back because we feel that it’s on us. We represent, in the TV series, the first time the audience really experiences the other world or the unseen, so we fill that kind of color. We can’t say too much more just yet.
Brooke: There’s also an innocence and naiveté to them that you don’t really get with other characters in the season, which was really nice to play.
Yusef: In a way we’re the least self-conscious of the characters, we’re kind of like babies. And that can make us sillier, more mysterious, and more menacing — it can make us all sorts of things, really.
What’s with DeBlanc singing “Wynken, Blynken and Nod”?
Yusef: That’s what was written in the script and that’s what I sung. There’s more lullaby to come, so you’ll get more of that wonderful singing down the line.
How were you cast in “Preacher”?
Brooke: I sent in a tape from London and, amazingly, that was all that was required. I got a call and they said, “Yep, we’ll have him.” It’s incredible, really, because you have to go through the different levels of producers and executives and a lot of people have to OK you. When on occasion it happens as quickly as that, it gives you such confidence because for someone to say, “Yeah, that’s exactly who I want,” and not have to take too much time about telling you, it gives you such a boost and it really makes you feel like you’re on the right track and you’re doing something right.
Yusef: My experience was pretty much the same. I sent in a tape and was cast from the tape and had a conversation with Sam, Seth and Evan when they’d offered it to me about what it was and what they were thinking for these characters. I actually did tapes for both.
Brooke: Yeah, we actually talked a little bit about that. We were asked to audition for each other’s characters.
Yusef: We were sent a scene and both characters were in it. We were told to pick one, whichever we liked.
Brooke: It was such a well-written scene.
Is the audition scene in these first two episodes?
Yusef: You won’t see it, unfortunately — not in this season.
Brooke: But I did say, “You have to get this in there.” It was a combination, it was written by Sam, Seth and Evan.
What’s it like working with them?
Brooke: They were so much fun and encouraging. They have such cool ideas and have really good comedy taste and, dare I say, casting taste. Great taste in actors.
Yusef: We worked with them really only on the pilot. They were juggling so much. The battle with this is finding the right tone. The way lots of us were playing it were with some sides and color. As we worked through it we had to adjust performances, because the world has such sides and colors. I think some people might not have figured it out as well — the temptation to play it up or put in more gags and play a moment for its silliness — but they figured it out by resisting that temptation in that pilot.
“Preacher” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.