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EXCLUSIVE: Interview with ‘Preacher’ star Julie Ann Emery

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We had the amazing opportunity to manage an interview with Julie Ann Emery, who plays one of the Grail’s best operatives, Lara Featherstone in the Vertigo adaptation series, Preacher. She replied to our questions with pleasure. Check out the interview below!

Let’s start with some personal questions. Who or what was your biggest influence to become an actress?
I am from a small town in Tennessee. The only theatre when I was growing up, for almost 100 miles, was the Cumberland County Playhouse. They provided a part time drama teacher for our high school and she recruited me after hearing me sing in the chorus. Of course I grew up going to movies, Carrie Fisher in Star Wars, Karen Allen in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Meryl Streep in… anything. I thought they were all amazing, but the movies didn’t seem possible for me. It seemed like a fantasy that someone could do that for a living. The Cumberland County Playhouse in my home town showed me a path to becoming an actress that would absolutely have been closed to me otherwise.

How did you get into acting?
I was recruited by our Drama Teacher, Mel Michel. She heard me sing in a choir concert and asked me to try out for her plays. Junior year she cast me against type to play Rizzo in Grease. Sandy was much closer to who I was in real life. Rizzo was a very foreign character to me. Successfully slipping into Rizzo skin, and her mind, and then taking the audience on the ride of her story line… that turned me into an actress for life. No question.

If you were not acting what would you be doing?
My family mostly thought I should be a lawyer because I’m good in a debat), but I would probably be a music teacher or choir director. In high school I played four different instruments in band, I sang in every choir, I was our marching band’s drum major, and I’ve studied piano since age 8. I was on the path to becoming a music teacher for sure.

What do you love most about being an actor?
My Papa Stowers used to say that my job was to walk around in someone else’s shoes. He’s not wrong about that. Walking around in someone else’s shoes, getting into their headspace, and bringing th audience into that headspace with me is what I love most. With Featherstone in Preacher, I get to walk around in multiple characters’ shoes at once.

How do you prepare for your roles?
Lots and lots of character history. Lots of behavior analysis. Lots of relationship work. Research. And then identifying the characters rhythms and headspace. I like to find opposites in characters. Oppositional behaviors. That’s a pretty nerdy answer.

How do you get into character?
I like to be incredibly off book. I don’t like to be thinking of my next line or cue while I’m in the scene. I like to be thinking the thoughts of the character. I also like to choose music for each character. I usually a specific song to play in my trailer in the mornings while I’m getting ready.

What kind of roles do you prefer?
Strong, actionary, complex, and complicated women.

Which has been your favorite character that you have performed?
That would be like choosing a favorite child. I can’t do it.

Do you like to watch the shows and movies you are in?
I’m not sure I LIKE it. I do find it beneficial as an artist to see what I’m doing and what is successful for the moment and what isn’t.

How do you wind down after a long day on set?
A hug from my husband and a good bath. If it’s been a stressful day I like to play on my XBox for a bit.

How would you describe yourself in one word?
No idea.

What is your favorite movie and TV show, and why?
I am a bit of a fan girl, so I have more than one at any given moment. Right now it’s Handmaid’s Tale, Looming Tower, Brooklyn 99, and like everyone else, I am anxiously awaiting the return of Game of Thrones.

Who is your favorite actor and actress from the currently active ones, including TV and cinema?
I have no idea how to choose. There are a lot of folks whose work I respect. Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchette, Christine Baranski, Jeff Daniels, Bill Camp, the list goes on.

Are you on track with any other DC/Vertigo TV show?
I watch Arrow, Constantine was pretty great, Gotham, and curious about Watchmen.

What upcoming projects do you have that you can talk about?
I am currently in Italy shooting Catch 22 opposite George Clooney and Chris Abbott and I’m really proud to be a part of it. It will be a mini series for Hulu in 2019.

And now let’s talk about Preacher. Were you following the series before you got the role of Lara Featherstone?
I was a fan of season 1. Fantasy/SciFi is right up my alley and I will give almost anything on AMC a watch. Preacher was a natural fit for me as a viewer.

Could you tell us something about the casting process for the role?
It happened very quickly for me. They had been looking for the role for a few months. I wasn’t right for what they were looking for in the beginning. My understanding is that the character changed for them as the audition process went on. Finally the audition came across my desk, and I was immediately in love with the role but I was finishing up a shoot on something the week of my auditions. I auditioned on a Wednesday morning before work, had a work session with Sam Catlin, our showrunner, on a Thursday morning before going to set, they tested me off tape for the network because I was shooting, and by Friday evening I was offered the role. I booked it on a Friday night and had to move to New Orleans for filming on Tuesday. That first Featherstone episode… everything happened very fast and furious for me.

What is it like on the set of Preacher?
Very focused but fun. The cast genuinely likes each other and we love our NOLA based crew. They work themselves happily into the ground to make the insane vision of what is Preacher come to life every episode. It’s a very challenging show on an 8-day shoot.

What do you love most about being on Preacher?
Featherstone. Featherstone. Featherstone. I love my character. She is challenging and transformative and fabulous.

Do you have any fun stories from the set?
You’d think when The Grail is on set together it would all be very dry and serious. It’s not. The Grail is a hilarious handful behind the scenes. Malcolm Barrett makes me laugh all day every day.

How would you describe Featherstone? What do you think about her?
Complex. She truly believes in the cause. She believes without a doubt that she is a good guy, but there is something in her where her heart used to be. That place is a flat void now. I think her personas are more normal than she is herself, which means she is a brilliant observer of human behavior, but does not allow herself to be much of a human in real life. She also doesn’t consider herself in terms of gender. She is capable and serious and considers herself a soldier in the fight, being a woman never comes into play for her… until Herr Starr is in the room.

Do you and your character have something in common? If yes, what is it?
Dedication. We both enjoy hard work, and I tend to go down an obsessive rabbit hole when it comes to work. Featherstone is the same.

Are there any deleted scenes that you really wanted to see on the show? Do you remember any?
Some scenes have been trimmed, but we have not had deleted scenes in the show. AMC airs the show as is. And our show is so huge, with so much stunt work in every episode, we don’t really have time to be shooting things that might get cut. Our writers have to be very strategic.

Which is your favorite moment with your character until now?
Stripping the glock and putting it back together while calmly reasoning with Herr Starr for the value of our lives last season was pretty sweet.

If you could switch roles with someone on the show, who would it be and why?
The Saint of Killers. He carries those demonic pistols and he gets to ride a horse sometimes! My dad owned a Dairy Farm for most of my childhood. I grew up on horseback. I’ve always wanted a job where I got to ride.

Were there any talks or plans about your character having blonde hair and glasses like she does in the comics?
Not by the time I was cast. They were originally looking for more of a blonde bombshell for the role. But once it was me, it was me. I already had the Featherstone bob.

If we’re not wrong, you wrote and directed a web series, in which you played the main character as well. Do you want to direct anything else in the future? A Preacher episode for example?
I did write and direct a digital series. Back when that world was still the wild west. It’s called Then We Got Help! and has some of the best actors I know in it. We shot it for almost 0 budget, but it was an ensemble show. I had a smaller role than the others. And I liked it that way. I have signed on to direct a movie, we are still raising funds for it, and I do very much hope to do more directing in the future.

Can you say anything about Preacher Season 3?
It’s a crazy town cuckoo ride!! Buckle up!!

Which is your favorite episode from Season 3? Can you share a little tease of it?
I like to keep a spoiler free zone, but there is a story line later in the season that I was thrilled with.

People are saying that Preacher isn’t like any other TV series, it’s kind of a guilty pleasure. What do you think that makes this series so special and different from other shows?
It is a genre mash up and we deal with content that no one ever believed would make it onto a TV screen. Preacher pushes the envelope in almost every possible way. Match that with a head writer, Sam Catlin, from the Breaking Bad world, Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg’s out there humor, and such a high end cast… that is always going to make for something unique.

How would you convince someone who isn’t following the show to start watching it?
I would ask what their viewing taste is first. Preacher isn’t for everyone like a Network show. Preacher is niche and challenges even its audience. Watch at your own risk. If you think you can handle it.

In Episode 9 of Season 2, your character namedrops Budapest. Have you ever been in our capital, or are you planning a visit someday?
Yes! In the first scene with Herr Starr! I have never been to Budapest but it is on my travel bucket list. You all will have to give me a must see in Budapest list!

Preacher Season 3 starts July 19 in our country. Do you have any message to the Hungarian fans?
THANK YOU FOR WATCHING! And buckle up. Last season was high octane. This season is just off the wall nuts!

We say thank you once again to Julie Ann for making this great interview happen. You guys be sure to follow the new episodes of Preacher Thursdays at 11:30 pm on AMC!

Photos: AMC

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