The cowboy known as the Saint of Killers, who was relegated to flashbacks seemingly unrelated to the main action in season 1 of AMC’s Preacher, may have snuck up on some viewers, but that’s about to change as Preacher season 2 premieres tonight with a two-hour episode that promises to feature Graham McTavish’s cowboy in a way that will leave little doubt as to his central role in the ongoing story.
“He is more prominent in season 2,” McTavish promises. “Right from the get-go in episode 1, he’s contributing to the action, that’s for sure!” Those who enjoyed the first season of Preacher may remember the cowboy showed up in modern times and was able to permanently dispatch an angel while making his intentions clear about finding “the preacher,” Dominic Cooper’s Jesse Custer.
“It pretty much picks up straight off from where we left everybody in season 1,” agrees McTavish, “and he has a singular purpose, and that is to get ahold of Genesis and thereby be reunited with his family. He doesn’t have anything personally against Jesse; he is merely a means to an end, and all the poor folks that stray into my path are merely people to be removed — again, without any personal animosity.”
Whether the cowboy will have much more to say as he becomes a more important figure isn’t really up for question, as McTavish will almost certainly continue to fill his mostly silent performance with a quiet but powerful menace. “He’s a man who’s economical with his words and his movements, so you have to retain this sort of skilled silence a lot of the time and allow that silence and stillness to be very eloquent in their own way,” McTavish admits. “If you were to suddenly place massive pages of dialogue in the hands of a character like the Saint of Killers, it just wouldn’t fit properly.”
McTavish asserts that his character’s slow pace is part of what makes him so intimidating. “I move at a measured pace in the show because that’s more frightening, I think, then seeing me run down the street,” he says. “There’s something much more menacing about a man that can take his time coming after you than somebody that needs to rush.”
McTavish’s performance is all that much more remarkable given that viewers do actually sympathize with the Saint of Killers in some ways. “You do feel sympathy for him because of what happened to his family,” McTavish argues. “He was a man that was trying to do good. He went back to help people, and where did it get him? And as the season progresses, I think you see me, certainly in relation to Dominic’s character, that you’re unsure who the bad guy is in those scenes.”
As for how the cowboy, whose scenes in Preacher season 1 take place in the 19th century, adjusts to modern times, it’s really irrelevant, according to McTavish. “He’s unencumbered by those things. He relates to them only in as much as sometimes he might destroy them or push past them,” he explains. “He’s not like us who go through our lives compromising and having to accommodate other things, other people, other views. He has none of that, none of those issues. He’s the Saint of Killers; he’s not the saint of conversation or yoga or whatever.”
McTavish brings great gravitas to his role in a show filled with humor, darkness, emotion, and violence. In the end, the cowboy is as gritty as Preacher itself. “I think that one of the great strengths of the show is that it doesn’t give you easy answers,” concludes McTavish. “It’s not neat. This show is about, I think, the inner struggle that humanity has with the good and bad sides of our natures.”
The struggle continues as Preacher season 2 premieres with a two-hour episode tonight on AMC starting at 10pm ET. The full audio of this interview is available in the July edition of our Sci Fi Fidelity podcast (timecode – 51:22). Subscribe or listen below! iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud