Comic Book Casting: The PREACHER Movie

Religion is a touchy subject to explore in comics. If mainstream comics go near it it’s only in passing or in a vanilla, non-denominational sort of way,but for five years at the end of the 20th Century writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon explored it (and tore into it) with the seminal Vertigo series Preacher. Told over the course off 75 issues counting the one-shots, minis and the series itself, Preacher quickly became one of the series that defined Vertigo during its first decade.

Over the years, many people have tried to make Preacher come to life and live-action on either the small or the big screen. The director’s chair has been a revolving door of who’s who, going from Rachel Talalay (Tank Girl) to Kevin Smith (Clerks, Dogma) to Mark Steven Johnson (Daredevil) to Sam Mendes (American Beauty) and most recently D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, Eagle Eye). Much like Jesse, people hoping to make a Preacher movie should put the past behind them and look to the future to make this work. And here’s how.

The Concept:

In the wreckage of previous attempts to bring Preacher to life, one of the most common phrases that’s given as a reason it didn’t happen was “too religiously controversial.” To work, Preacher needs to embrace that because, well, there’s no way you’re getting God an in-bred descendant of Jesus, or a reticent man of God out of the book series. The most common film people might compare this to is Kevin Smith’s Dogma, but I’d look to more recent portrayals of gods and angels doing bad like 2010’s Legion. They made it work and so can this.

For the story of a Preacher film, I’d have to take some liberties with the storyline and use the first arc, “Gone To Texas,” as act one and then skip ahead to the “Proud Americans” arc for acts 2 and 3 and a face-off against Herr Starr. Some might consider it sacrilege, but Ennis himself has pushed film-makers to not be so “beholden to the comic” and this is how I’d approach that. If successful, a second film could circle back and show Custer taking his new friends to visit his family secrets.

The Director:

As previously mentioned, directors of all stripes have attempted a Preacher adaptation and fell through. This needs some big pull in the industry, and I’d rope in The Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow. Bigelow’s currently filming an Osama Bin Laden movie carrying on her true-to-life film streak, but it’s her older work on Near Dark and Strange Days that informs me she’s the right person.

The Cast:

Jesse Custer – Walton Goggins: Everyone from Ben Affleck to James Marsden has been attached to this role, but I’d choose an off-kilter choice from TV: The Shield and Justified‘s Walton Goggins. Some might pick Justified’s more handsome Timothy Olyphant for this role, but Goggins has more range and brings a more unique sensibility to this film and would fill out the role of the former pastor like no one else.

Tulip O’Hare – Elizabeth Banks: Tulip’s a hard role to cast, but once I saw Goggins in the Custer role Banks came to me as an ideal counterpart. She’s got the spirit to stand up to Jesse and everything he brings down on them, and could pull off a Southern accent better than Alabama in True Romance.

Cassidy – Chris Pine: Another would-be castee for the Jesse Custer role, but I’d put him as Cassidy to give the actor some room to really have fun with it. Pine’s always set as the straight man in the films he’s been in, but I’d like to see him get to play the wild one for once.

Saint of Killers – Scott Glenn: Ennis envisioned Clint Eastwood when writing the Preacher comics, but with that actor retired from being in front of the camera I’d reach back and grab one of the best on-screen villains in modern memory. He’s got a permanent scowl and a measured take on acting that would really send chills down you when he showed up on screen.

Herr Starr – Josh Brolin: Josh Brolin’s had uneven luck with comic book adaptations, but I think he has some mean comedy chops that no one knows about. Not that Herr Starr is a comedian, but someone playing the role needs to be able to take Herr Starr’s uniqueness and carry it out with force. Brolin could do that with a seriousness that would shock film-goers.

Arseface – Paul Dano: Arseface might be poked at as a one-dimensional character meant for shock value and nothing else, but those people would be wrong. It’s a unique character whose facial scarring turns him into a joke to some, but it’s a challenging role with a huge reward if done right. Dano’s role in There Will Be Blood sold him for me on playing this part.


  1. That is some inspired casting. I am picturing the movie in my mind’s eye… or whatever.

  2. Walton Goggins is perfect. Completely nailed it.

  3. Love the role reversal on Custer and Cassidy.

  4. I love all the casting except Chris Pine. I feel like the other actors listed are way out of his league.

  5. I’m not getting the Chris Pine. I don’t see it.

  6. I like pine, not sure if he could pull it off, but i wouldn;t be dissapointed if he actually were cast. That being said, to me saint of killers is a mountain of a man, my friends and ihave discussed this all in length and agreed that Ron Perlman was our choice for the saint.

  7. I was thinking more along the lines of Michael Fassbender or Guy Pearce as Cassidy. But Walton Goggins is absolutely perfect as Custer. Especially if you’re an avid Justified fan like myself.

  8. Pine was brilliantly wacky in “Smokin Aces”! He’s one of the crazy white supremacist brothers.

    I think even better for the role of Cassidy would be Fassbender. He’s Irish, to boot.

    Really nice list though! Goggins is a particularly inspired choice.

  9. I would love for someone to take a chance like this on Goggins. By the end of the Shield I was convinced he was a genius. He took Shane from being a plus one, with very little character, made me hate him, then love to hate him, then really root for him. I now think he could play anythig given to him. I think Elizabeth Banks would be great fun too

  10. Chris Pine’s a reach, but every one else seems pretty much perfect. This could very well happen right now! (Fingers Crossed)

  11. All fine casting choices with the exception of Brolin. I think Sir Ben Kingsley would make for a better Star.

  12. Even though I’m not his biggest fan, tarantino really is the perfect person for a preacher movie

    i’d go franco for custer and colin ferral for cassidy

  13. Herr Starr = Christoph Waltz

  14. I always imagined Cassidy being played by Colin Farrell but being a big fan of Justified I really dig the choice of Goggins as Jesse. This would make for a better HBO or Showtime series then a movie IMO.

  15. I haven’t read Preacher but Chris Pine is in my opinion an excellent actor who doesn’t receive nearly enough credit. I’ll watch pretty much anything he’s in because I find him so enjoyable to watch.

  16. Ole Clint is not out to pasture yet, acting-wise. He’ll star in Trouble with the Curve, a baseball movie being released late this year. It will be directed by his long-time assistant director Robert Lorenz — the first time Clint hasn’t directed a movie he’s starred in since Wolfgang Peterson’s In the Line of Fire in 1993.
    Though I can dream of Clint playing the role, I still like the Scott Glen choice for the Saint of Killers.

  17. I would choose Cillian Murphy for Cassidy. He’s the perfect combination of handsome, likable and charming as well as creepy, off-putting, and intense. He could do wonderful things with such a layered and complex character.

  18. this needs to be made into film

  19. I’m not totally down with the Jesse or Herr Starr casting but everyone else us spot on

  20. I love Walton Goggins as Jesse… IF… this is an HBO series. I’m not sure a studio would trust him in the lead role because he’s not really a name actor, but for an HBO series he could definitely be the lead. I really think it would be an amazing casting job if they went with Goggins but like I said I’m not sure if a studio would go that way. So I’ll proceed as if this were an HBO series (Which would be better in my opinion anyway)

    Jesse – Walton Goggins
    Tulip – I love Elizabeth Banks but I don’t love her for tulip… I can’t think of anyone better though.
    Cassidy – Michael Fassbender (Perfect choice but he’s fast becoming a mega star so…)
    Saint of Killers – Michael Biehn (Maybe not a preferred choice by many of you but he’s really an under-used actor who can play “grizzled” as well as anyone) or Ted Levine or Chris Cooper
    Herr Star – Ed Harris (Hands down…)
    Arseface – Paul Dano works for me

  21. Okay, I have no idea about the first guy cos’ I’ve not watched anything he’s been in but from what I can gather, he’s a perfect choice so we should leave him at that ๐Ÿ™‚ Although lets face it, Jesse Custer in the comic is a lot better looking (yeah it’s wrong I fancy a character over my actual boyfriend…he proper hates himself for getting me hooked lol), but movies don’t have to fully the comic…but we don’t want another Constantine on our hands!

    So okay, being a woman and a fan of strong women in media, Tulip has gotta be one of the best female characters written…ever! So as much as I love Miss Banks, I think her face isn’t nearly dynamic enough to play the part. I just don’t think she’s bad ass enough, so I understand casting is hard! Maybe Michelle Williams because she’s pretty but she can pull off a gritty look. She’s a mature actress too but doesn’t look too old ya know?

    Cassidy’s pick is too clean. He’s a gritty, dirty Irish man and I think Christian Bale could play him perfectly ๐Ÿ˜› Or maybe someone more Irish. I liked someone’s suggestion of Cillian Murphy too!

    I am okay about the others, and I really love the Star and S.O.K choices, another suggestion for Herr Star is Gary Oldman and what about Geoffrey Rush/Jeff Bridges as Saint of K? But let’s face it, if they could get Eastwood, wouldn’t it just be magic? I mean I can forgive any other casting then if Clint would do it :’)

    I just want to know who you’d pick for Jody? I know he’s not a huge part but I think he would need to be included in the story because despite a lot of haters, Jody is a one hell of a character ๐Ÿ™‚ He needs to be a proper tank!

    Oh and somehow Nicholson needs to be put in this movie if it ever does happen just for the lulz and again, it doesn’t need to mimic the comics totally, but who would be John Wayne lol :’)

  22. My cast is
    Jesse – Clive Owen
    Tulipa – Umma Thurma
    Cassidy – Robert Dawney Jr
    Herr Star – John Malkovitch

    i made these posters too