As part of our coverage of the final season of Preacher on the AMC Network, I got to speak with Mark Harelik about playing Gof and his career.
What can you tell us about what to expect further into this season?
Well, it never hurts to ask for what you want, as long as you’re prepared to hear “Are You Kidding?!” I think I’ve avoided the price of several summer movies this season by watching the previews and learning the entire plot. But in a general sense, you can expect Jessie Custer’s hunt for God, who is MIA, to gain further momentum, and gradually drag every character into the maelstrom.
- How did you prepare for the role?
In the universe of Preacher, God has created Man in His own image, but Man has also created God in his own image. So God has human qualities, and humans have godly (sic?) qualities. So God’s physical appearance and inner life is a remarkable reflection of Man’s. (And vice versa) God (in the Preacher universe) is very specific to Jessie Custer’s culture, so His appearance is a lot like the God of Michelangelo, William Blake, Hallmark Cards, and classic American Christian popular (white) culture. He is also drawn very much from the Old Testament. He is a jealous God. He is a loving God. He is all-powerful, yet vindictive. Above all, He is a narcissist. In a nutshell – like Man himself.
Other than that mind-set, I prepared every day by fully shaving my face and head for the application of the Heavenly Wig, Beard, Moustache, and Eyebrows. That got me a lot of respect and deference on the film set. By the time the cameras were rolling, I felt very God-like indeed.
- Are you surprised given the subject matter that there was not more controversy over the show?
For those who hunger for blasphemy (by that, I mean, those who claim to hate it, but are obsessed with it), there will be plenty of controversy. Also, devotees of the Preacher graphic novel series have already found much to complain about because the television series doesn’t always adhere to scripture. In the end, if Preacher doesn’t provoke controversy, it hasn’t gone far enough. Its intention is to challenge hypocrisy and dogma. I suppose the bottom line is that if it becomes more popular after this final season, it will engender more controversy. Fingers crossed!
- How would you say your character has evolved?
You mean devolved. ‘Nuff said.
- How did you get into acting and what was your big break?
I went to the University of Texas as a music major (piano). I was crushed by my competition. I quit in frustration and walked across the south quad to the theater department. Plan B. I have been an actor and nothing else since then. After college, I attended The Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Santa Maria, California as a young stage actor. The artistic director, Donovan Marley was my teacher and mentor. I worked in regional theater for many years, performing in countless plays of all genres. Eventually, I moved to Los Angeles because I felt ready to compete in the film and television industry. As to big breaks, I am not an explosive device. I am an ice crusher. I began working where I could and persisted relentlessly. I have had many great gigs, and many gigs for bucks alone. I work for artistic satisfaction, personal challenge, and to support my family, not unlike your local highly recommended plumber.
- How was filming season 4 compared to other years?
Because we were filming Melbourne, there was no going home (to Los Angeles) and coming back between work days. Consequently, the season’s filming had a much more cohesive feeling than in previous seasons, where I came and went from the filming locations as needed. Not only did I become very accustomed to living in Melbourne (and loving it), I also became close with our Australian crew – a talented and dedicated group of artists, each in their particular department. Also, spending 5 months in Melbourne allowed me to decompress from the constant high level of stress and anxiety that pervade our current US environment. I encountered less acrimony, less partisan divide, less tribalism, less general stress overall. I enjoyed the benefits of living for a time in a country where the people have elected to pay higher taxes in order that everyone may benefit. The well kept and plentiful city parks and clean streets attest to that. The comprehensive bicycling infrastructure, the urban transit, the communal health system all contribute to a general sense of happiness, well-being, and fellow friendship. It was like taking a bath.
- What do you like to do in your free time?
I consume culture and keep my body alive. I enjoy traveling, reading, listening to music, seeing art, watching movies, riding my bike. I most of all enjoy spending time with my wife Spencer and my teenage son, Haskell. Most recent favorite book: The Nickel Boys. Most recent favorite record: Van Morrison & The Chieftains. Most recent favorite artist: James Turrell. Most recent favorite movie: Mike Leigh’s Peterloo. Most recent favorite destination: Lofoten, Norway. Put that one on your bucket list!
- What do you have coming up?
I’m directing a production of my play What the Jews Believe at the Berkshire Theatre Group in Stockbridge Massachusetts. I’m very excited to be doing that. My heart is still in the theater, where the actors are the only thing that’s happening.