A new character is about to start causing trouble on AMC’s Preacher.
Julie Ann Emery makes her appearance as Lara Featherstone tonight on Preacher Season 2 Episode 3, “Damsels,” and it’s a role unlike anything you’ve seen her in before.
I recently spoke with Emery about her part on Preacher and why it’s a “worthy follow-up” to her character on another AMC series, Better Call Saul.
As a fan of the show already, Emery couldn’t pass up the opportunity to audition for a role on Preacher.
“The show itself is right up my alley. I watch most of what’s on AMC. There’s a quality of television on AMC that’s attractive to me. But also I am a sci-fi / supernatural fangirl. I was a big fan of Season 1. I thought it was really beautifully done,” Emery said.
So when Emery had the chance to be a part of Preacher, she gave it everything she had.
“When I auditioned for the role, I really went after it,” she admitted.
“It’s such a brilliantly written role for a woman, and that doesn’t come along all that often,” she continued. “She’s one of the best the Grail has to offer. She’s uber dedicated [and] very focused. She is willing to do anything for her cause — and that means anything. She will use her sexuality, violence, whatever. There is no line that she won’t cross to serve the cause. She’s wildly committed, and she has a wide range of tactics in her bag.”
“It’s thrilling to play her. I am just in actor heaven right now. She is a really thrilling character to play.”
In fact, this is exactly the sort of character Emery had been looking for, and she compared her to another character she played recently.
“I’ve gotten to play some really wonderful female characters over the last five years, but this character in particular was kind of… she’s a worthy follow-up to Betsy Kettleman on Better Call Saul, and I’ve been looking for that for a while. Sometimes as a woman in the industry, you end up auditioning for very kind of milquetoast roles, and Featherstone is not that. She’s actionary in her own right — the opposite of a lot of what the industry writes for women. I knew that immediately, and I knew I wanted it. Frankly, I wanted it so badly that I thought, ‘there’s no way I’m gonna get it.’ I thought I was just gonna blow it for myself entirely,” Emery said.
Of course, Emery was also excited to join the show because of the people involved.
“Sam Catlin is from the Breaking Bad world; I was a big fan of his writing already. He’s our showrunner. And Seth Rogan — I see all of his comedies. I think he’s wonderful.”
Emery said she didn’t know the comics before she began working on the show, but she started reading them to prepare for her role as Lara Featherstone.
“I got into them during the audition process,” she said.
“I sort of scanned through for the Featherstone bit, and now I’m deeply into them. They’re like reading this really wacky, screwed up novel. They’re wonderful!” Emery laughed.
“I wish that I had the comics on my radar earlier in life. They’re really, really well-done. There’s a lot of depth there.”
Emery enjoyed working on AMC’s Better Call Saul as well, and she was a fan of Breaking Bad before being cast on that show.
“It’s always a thrill to be cast in something that you’re a true fan of already. I mean, I thought Breaking Bad was just the best that we ever had on television,” Emery said.
“Sometimes, some of our really high-end television has a pretentious air to it, and Breaking Bad never had that,” she continued. “I just thought it was so brilliant. So to walk into that universe was such a thrill, and it’s the same with Preacher. There’s such a level of excellence there.”
With that, however, comes a bit of pressure.
“You want to live up to the material, because you’re working with all of these wonderful artists. That’s definitely true in the Preacher world too,” Emery noted. “We have some wildly talented people on both sides of the lens.”
Emery also spoke a bit about what it’s like behind the scenes of Preacher, including the welcoming atmosphere.
“Dominic [Cooper], and Ruth [Negga], and Joe [Gilgun] are very welcoming and fun — and genuine, nice people. The staff is wonderful. The crew’s very happy,” she said.
“Everyone is working really hard. Everyone is very dedicated, but there is a great focus on the work and a nice, fun atmosphere as well. I’m not sure if that’s influenced by New Orleans,” she laughed. “New Orleans is such a fun town to be in, but our crew in particular is a very happy crew. It’s a pleasure. And you know, Featherstone is a bit of a dive off a cliff for me as an actor, and it’s a relief to be in that atmosphere.”
Filming in New Orleans is also significant to the story itself. “New Orleans plays such a giant role in Preacher this season,” Emery explained.
“New Orleans is a character unto itself, and no matter where you look in New Orleans, there’s a feeling that there’s a little bit of up to no good going on, which really serves our show very well.”
Playing the part of Lara Featherstone has given Emery the chance to expand her acting skills in a new way. “The Featherstone in the show has added dimensions to her from the comics that can be challenging at times — in a great way. My skill set as an actor is being pushed in all directions, almost to its limit. It’s really wonderful.”
“It’s such a mashup of tone and genre,” she continued. “You know, it’s very pulpy, there’s some great amazing humor in the show to play, but there’s also wildly dramatic stuff to play. At it’s beating heart, the show is a human drama. We push the edges in terms of genre so much.”
Another show Emery enjoyed watching before she joined the cast was the short-lived ABC series, October Road, where she played Christine Cataldo.
“I was a fan of the show before I was on it because I loved the tone of it. It felt like my world,” Emery said.
“My character was just hell on wheels, you know? I mean she was just there to cause trouble for everybody. I like playing women who cause trouble for everybody, apparently. Featherstone causes a lot of trouble. Betsy Kettleman causes a lot of trouble. I like these women,” she laughed.
Emery also shared one specific memory from filming October Road.
“I had a lot of stuff with Laura Prepon. I’m very short, and she’s much taller than me. I remember there’s that scene where she punches me in the face, and I had on these giant heels because they really wanted us sort of eye to eye with each other. I walked through that yard on apple boxes. They taped apple boxes together, and I walked on apple boxes with my heels. And they were kind of wobbly and wonky,” Emery recalled.
“I think we need shows like that right now. We went through kind of like an anti-hero moment, which served us up some great television, but we kind of abandoned that world that October Road fits in so well,” she said.
“I found that show very relatable. I recognized people I know on it. I recognized myself in it. I really loved it.”
Emery mentioned at the beginning of our chat that she was a “sci-fi / supernatural fangirl,” so of course, we had to talk about some of her favorite shows from that genre.
“I’m wildly into Game of Thrones, and I read the books before the show was ever on the air, which I recommend. If you’ve not started watching Game of Thrones, read the books first! I loved the books. The books were crack for me. I mean, I could not get enough of them,” Emery said.
“My favorite of all time is Battlestar Galactica, no question,” she continued. She also named Firefly as a favorite. “I must have watched those thirteen episodes at least, I don’t know, fifteen times.”
Be sure to catch Julie Ann Emery on Preacher, airing Mondays at 10/9c on AMC.
*Featured image credit: Ryan West
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