Graham McTavish on ‘Preacher’ Season 3: ‘It’s a Whole New Level of Dark & Twisted’

Graham McTavish in Preacher
Skip Bolen/AMC

AMC’s sinister series Preacher, which is based on Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s comic book series, returns Sunday, June 24, with an equally action-packed, violent, and devilishly clever third season.

We pick up with “Jesse (Dominic Cooper), Tulip (Ruth Negga), and Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun) return to Angelville, the Louisiana Plantation where Jesse was raised, and find old grudges and deadly obligations await them,” according to a press release.

“With the help of his friends — and a few enemies — Jesse will need to escape his past… because the future of the world depends on it.”

TV Insider spoke with The Saint of Killers himself, Graham McTavish, about the (surprisingly) weapon-less journey his character takes, hanging out with Hitler, and why he loves working on the television series.

The Saint is back and out for blood. What are we going to see from him in Season 3?

Graham McTavish: [Season 3] is a whole new level of dark and twisted, to be honest. I’m a huge fan of the comics from when they first came out, so I know these stories very well and it’s great to see some of these new characters being introduced.

[The Saint] is this relentless arrow of death. It’s always fascinated me when I read the comics, because he doesn’t have an enormous amount of time in each of the comics, but his presence is so strong when he appears.

He goes off on a big of a tangent [this season] because at the end of Season 2 he was taken back to Hell. When he gets back to Hell he has to have a discussion with Satan and there are matters to be settled. One that’s taken place, Satan sends The Saint on a journey and that journey is to essentially bring back Eugene (or Arseface as some people might call him) and Hitler.

I get to hang out with Eugene and Hitler. Not a sentence I ever imagined saying out loud, but it’s great, and those two actors — Ian Colletti and Noah Taylor— are just delightful. And if I do bring them back, then I will get my guns back. So I play this whole season without any weapons, which is interesting.

Graham McTavish as The Saint of Killers

How much time has passed between Seasons 2 and 3?

It’s immediate. In terms of my storyline I’m taken straight to meet Satan, and then I have what could be described as a heated discussion with him and the Angel of Death, and we move from there.

How does Tulip change this season?

Well, her relationship with Jesse (Cooper) definitely undergoes somewhat of a shift and her relationship with Cassidy (Gilgun) as well. That little triangle is fractured. They’re on separate paths but I will say those paths eventually converge by the end.

Do you think Tulip and Jesse will ever get a happily-ever-after?

I mean, they’re not the kind of people that are gonna wander off into the sunset and settle down and the white picket fence and all that kind of stuff. It’s always gonna be drama, you know, neither of them have the personality where they’re gonna back down to the other. So this season that is just increased to the max in terms of that back and forth — that tension between them.

Ruth Negga as Tulip O’Hare, Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer (AMC)

What was it like to put on that Western costume?

As a guy who grew up in Scotland and England, I never for a moment imagined that I’d ever be able to be a cowboy, and right from the first season, when I put on that outfit, I felt a huge responsibility to the character.

You walk differently, you sit differently, you feel just different wearing that hat, wearing that coat, the clink of the spurs, the feel of the holster.

You’re an actor who’s had multiple TV and movie roles. Do you like the TV format better because you have more time to expand a character?

I love film. We had television, obviously, when I was growing up, but not the kind of television that we have now, not the range of television, not the platforms available to us, so my first love, I suppose, was feature films. That’s what as a child really sparked my imagination — going into that dark theater for an hour and a half and just having your life changed… being taken on a story.

Now television is just on a whole different level, and it allows the writers and the performers to tell stories over a huge period of time. Maybe 60 hours to 80 hours.

From that point of view, [TV] is probably my favorite way of working now. You do have to work faster. But having said that, the opportunity to tell a very full and complex story is so much better in TV.

Is there a character that you would like to spend more time with onscreen?

I’d love to do more stuff with Herr Starr (Pip Torrens). I haven’t done anything with him yet. One of the slight problems with The Saint is that in this season pretty much everyone I interact with, I kill.

I always felt sorry for guest stars that would come in last season because they might as well have just left their car running and because I was gonna be killing them within moments of meeting them.

Of course Preacher is dark and violent, but it’s also funny in its absurdity.

It’s very funny. Very deliberately funny. I mean it really walks that fine line between very dark, disturbing, horrific stuff and real burst out laughing “Oh my God, I can’t believe they’re doing that” sort of humor. And I think that’s one of the great subversive appeals of the show is that it surprises you in terms of the genre that it occupies.

You’ve got vampires, you’ve got assassins, you’ve got secret organizations, you’ve got a cowboy!

I have to ask about Outlander: Could we see Dougal in a flashback moment?

As far as I know, from the books, there are more than two flashbacks that feature Dougal MacKenzie, so I would love to put on that outfit, even for just an episode or two. Just to see what happens with him because he was a great character to play.

I’d always welcome a return of Dougal, so fingers crossed.

Preacher, Season 3 Premiere, Sunday, June 24, 10/9c, AMC