It's very rare that I get so excited about the premiere of a show, but AMC's Preacher is something completely different. As a fan of Garth Ennis's cult comic book, I wasn't really sure what to expect from the on-screen adaptation.
One of the things I was skeptical about initially was just how exactly the show's creators intended to get the character of Cassidy right. Names started racing through my mind, but I couldn't think of a single actor who could handle Cassidy's wild and vibrant personality — until Joseph Gilgun was cast. A relative unknown who made his name in Misfits, his casting seemed like the perfect choice to me, but it wasn't until an unexpected van ride confirmed just how great he would be.
I was fortunate enough to have met him at SxSW at an autograph signing, where he drew a penis next to his name on my poster. It was completely outlandish but absolutely hilarious, especially since I knew the character he would be playing.
Luckily for me, that wasn't the last time we'd meet. Later I was able to have a sit-down with Gilgun and his cast mates Dominic Cooper and Ruth Negga on the set of Preacher in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After our conversation ended, things took an unplanned turn.
As we were wrapping things up, my traveling Movie Pilot Creator companions and I jumped into the shuttle van to head from the outdoor set back to the studios. Just then, I looked out the window to see Gilgun approaching. He asked if he could have a ride back to his trailer — okay, actually, it was less asking and more him telling, "I'm hitching a ride back with you" — and boom! One of my favorite actors who was playing one of my favorite comic book characters on what would potentially be my new favorite show was sitting right next to me in a van!
Now, at this point my mind was racing in 10 different directions. One thought was like, "Okay, let's be professional," and one was like, "OMG, IT'S JOSEPH GILGUN!" Needless to say, my anxiety instantly abated once he started chatting to us in a non-interview setting.
We were able to have a real conversation with him. No questions about the show, no questions about his career, just a regular conversation like normal people. As we were in Albuquerque and had the rest of the day to sightsee, we asked him what he liked to do on his downtime.
"Oh, I love being outdoors, you know. It's great to go snowboarding here, hiking."
But what if you don't like outdoor activities or grow tired of that sort of thing?
"Oh, well then, there's nothing to do here other than snowboard and masturbate. And if you don't like to do either of those, then you're fucked."
Yes, I cannot make this up; this was actually said.
It was hilarious, but then it dawned on me — this is exactly why he was cast as Cassidy. The fact that anyone's brain naturally works that way was absolutely mind-blowing to me. The van ride was quickly turning into one of the most funny experiences of my life, and it had only just begun.
Gilgun had more to say about filming in the middle of the desert, too. New Mexico is an absolutely gorgeous state, full of mountains and breathtaking scenery, but that's about it. Its rustic desert look is beautiful, but quite different from the low, gray British skies Gilgun was used to. Of course, he summed it up in the most Gilgun-like way possible:
"It looks like a painting, mate, but I wouldn't want it on my wall."
A bit offensive if you're a fan of New Mexico, but bloody hell, he was right. By this point, I was practically crying with laughter at all of the crazy, unfiltered things that were coming out of Gilgun's mouth nonstop. It was a little like being trapped in a van with a human tornado — and it was amazing.
As we pulled up to the cast's trailers I was saddened that the terrific van ride was coming to an end. But as we all hopped out, Gilgun kept up the nonstop chatter, including declaring that he was heading back to his trailer to watch Dances With Wolves, because of course that's what he'd do. He mentioned how great it was to meet all of us in person after we mentioned that we'd been at the event at SxSW the week before.
At this point, I mentioned the fact that he drew a penis on my poster. For a moment, he looked taken aback.
"I did draw a dick on your poster, didn't I? Bloody hell, I'm sorry, mate!"
Two seconds later, he recovered.
"Nah, not that sorry."
It was the perfect quip to end the perfect van ride. The fact he remembered a moment that, to him, was so minuscule, but to me so huge, was amazing. It reminded me that actors are people, too, and great ones like Joe Gilgun make the experience so much better.
I can honestly say, out of all the things that I did those few days, whether it was walking around Albuquerque or checking out the set of Preacher, and yes, even sitting down with the entire cast, that van ride was the highlight of my trip.
It gave me the chance to see Gilgun for who he truly is. He says what's on his mind and has a wickedly sick sense of humor, but past all that you see a thoughtful, considerate actor who truly cares about his craft. Thank you, Joseph, for the amazing experience. I hope we can share a van ride again one day!