With the first season of AMC’s Preacher drawing to an end, we can now stand back and begin to appreciate the bigger picture. It was jarring, at first, to come to terms with the changes made from the page to the screen; as the season progressed, however, it became somewhat easier to appreciate the direction producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (Sausage Party) were headed in, even if it didn’t ever exactly match the story from the comic book series. Part of what made the changes more palatable, however, was the strength of its cast.
It's hard to deny that Dominic Cooper (Agent Carter), Ruth Negga (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Joseph Gilgun (The Infiltrator) did anything but own their roles as Jesse Custer, Tulip, and Cassidy, and that watching them quickly became the most enjoyable part of seeing the series come to life, even if the changes were disorienting. At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone but these three in their roles, but some new information has come to light that suggests that the series almost looked completely different.
A new report from Screen Crush, via /Film, indicates that during initial casting discussions, Rogen’s longtime friend and frequent collaborator James Franco (11.22.63) was up for the role of Jesse. The rumor was confirmed by both Rogen and Goldberg at SDCC 2016 last weekend, though both producers were quick to dismiss the idea as anything more than preliminary consideration. While Franco does bear a passing resemblance to the Jesse Custer of the comics, Goldberg suggested the actor was just too busy to commit to a multi-season deal.
“We had a nice conversation with James Franco at one point. He looks very Jesse-ish. He was into it but just literally he has to make 4,000 things in 20 different formats. It would take up his time and he wouldn’t be able to do a Tori Spelling movie or whatever the hell he was going to do.”
Goldberg is likely referring to the recent Franco-starring and produced remake of Mother May I Sleep with Danger?, which originally starred Spelling back in 1996, when the actress was at the height of her fame. Despite the flippant nature of his remarks, which is in character for Goldberg, it does speak to Franco’s recent reputation for non-stop work, which includes production and directorial duties now on top of acting. Rogen added, "[Franco] was dangling from a crane in Venice at the time so he couldn’t work us in. I think that was even before, that was in a very preliminary phase."
As production partners, Rogen and Goldberg have worked with Franco on a number of projects, and the three are known to be very good friends. Given Franco’s superficial resemblance to the title character, it would have been interesting to see how the actor would’ve played the Texas preacher.
At this point, however, it’s hard to imagine anyone but Cooper playing the role. Cooper’s performance has been the driving force of the series this season, often becoming the best part of the series even as it lagged somewhat around mid-season. Additionally, Franco’s star-power may have ultimately been a distraction from the narrative. As much as the series does revolve around Jesse, it’s truly an ensemble piece, and casting Franco would’ve turned it into something like The James Franco Show.
Still, it’s interesting to consider how things might be different for the series had they gone the Franco route. And given the actor’s relationship with the show’s producers, there’s always a chance that he could pop up as either a guest or recurring role later in the series. It could be fun to see the actor play one of Herr Starr’s henchmen, or even a more minor role as Preacher progresses. For now, we should just be thankful that we finally got a live action Preacher to enjoy, even if it’s not a beat-for-beat adaptation of the comics.
The season 1 finale of Preacher airs this Sunday, July 31, on AMC.
Source: Screen Crush