The Hitler who debuted recently in Preacher season 2 might be the most sympathetic version of the historic mass murderer that’s ever existed onscreen. Executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg didn’t disagree with that assessment during interviews at a Film Independent at LACMA screening of Preacher in Los Angeles this week, although they did tease that the Fuhrer has a darker side.
Shocking, we know.
“Hitler’s not going to remain in his current situation forever,” Goldberg said.
The last we saw of him, Hitler was being viciously kicked by a room full of bullies, including good old “Arseface” Eugene. In Preacher’s vision of Hell, where denizens are forced to relive their worst memory over and over (until the machinery breaks down at least), Hitler’s become contemplative, quiet, and apparently regretful. He can’t even stick up for himself. That’s probably not going to last, however.
“I think there’s still other sides to Hitler,” Rogen said.
Other sides, like a darker side?
“I would say Hitler’s got a Hitler side,” said Goldberg.
If there was ever a show that was going to get away with portraying Hitler in a sympathetic light, it’s Preacher. The AMC adaptation of the classic Garth Ennis-written comics holds nothing sacred, including God himself, who in the series’ lore has ditched his throne and left Heaven in shambles. Next to that awesome blasphemy, what harm is a little likable Hitler?
“It’s something that I’ve been obsessed with for a long time, that we kept discussing, and it slowly became something that was hard to resist,” Goldberg said. “Hitler’s been there for like 70 years–what would he have realized in 70 years? We think that one thing he would come to see is that many of the things he did in fact were heinous. And over 70 years in Hell, with all the people still coming down to Hell, if he could talk to them, maybe he’d have a different perspective than you’d expect.”
“It was probably one of those things that someone brought up jokingly, and then were were just like, ‘We could actually do that,’” Rogen said. “If there’s one show that could do that, I guess it’s this one. So we might as well do it.”
Hitler is just one of the many twisted additions in the show that never appeared in the original comics. At this point fans have come to expect that the show is a very different story, although at the end of season 1, when main characters Jesse, Tulip, and Cassidy had finally embarked on their long-awaited road trip from the books, it had briefly seemed like the show would start hewing closer to the source material.
“I think just as at the end of the first season everything lined up to a place where you completely recognized it, you just got there in a way you would never have expected. I think that type of thing is what we’ll continue doing,” Rogen said. “There will be benchmarks where you recognize every element of what’s happening from the comic. I think just how we get there is hopefully surprising and original.”
Season 2’s next episode, “Dallas,” will focus on the three main characters, particularly on more unexplored backstory for Jesse and Tulip–backstory that’s wholly original to the show.
“In the comic you just kind of wonder, you know, ‘How the f*** did they get there?’” Rogen said. “As [the characters] start to feel like real people and they occupy a real physical space and there’s human beings performing it, you just start to ask more questions. We’ve adapted a few things now. There’s some questions in a comic you don’t ask, but as soon as there’s a human there, your brain starts to wonder a little bit. It’s interesting.”
They always eventually want to reach the important “milestones” from the books, though.
“I think we’re always kind of getting closer to the core of the comic, because as we progress onward a lot of the key characters that everyone loves are going to come into play,” Goldberg said. “We don’t want to waste any of the good characters. We want to bring back all of the craziest, most memorable, most bizarre Garth creations.”
Preacher showrunner and Executive Producer Sam Catlin teased some upcoming storylines from the books they’d like to portray on the show. “I love the Saint of Killers origin story from the books, I think that’s really cool,” he said. “There’s so many world yet to conquer: San Francisco, and New York, and the south of France, and Cassidy’s origin story, all those things. There’s so much that we’ve yet to draw on.”
When Goldberg and Rogen first pitched Preacher to AMC, they’d envisioned it as a “straight up” adaptation of the books, Sin City-style. “Garth was the first person to be like, ‘You know that’s a bad idea, right?’” Goldberg said.
What the show transformed into instead is a sometimes meandering–but always compelling–exploration of themes and characters whose payoffs have so far been worth it, despite the time it takes to get there.
Preacher season 2 is currently airing Mondays on AMC. Check out GameSpot Universe on YouTube for our Preacher episode breakdowns and much more.