PASADENA, California — Cyclops may soon trade his optic blasts for the power of the “Word of God.” “X-Men” actor James Marsden is onboard to star in the big-screen adaptation of the comic book “Preacher.”
“Right now it’s in one of those weird Hollywood states where financing is still kind of questionable at this point,” explained the 29-year-old actor as he relaxed in his hotel room, dressed in a dark shirt and jeans. “But they keep threatening to start [filming] in June, so if they do it, I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”
The brainchild of Irish writer Garth Ennis, “Preacher” was one of the breakout titles to emerge from DC Comics’ edgy, adult-themed Vertigo line of comics. Filled with dark humor, grim violence and iconoclasm, “Preacher” centers on fallen evangelist Jesse Custer who, feeling that God has abandoned humanity, sets out to find Him with gun-toting gal pal Tulip and Irish vampire Cassidy in tow.
Throughout its lengthy run, “Preacher” dealt with Jesse’s upbringing, his belief system, the “Saint of Killers” on his trail, his persistent visions of John Wayne’s ghost, and the massive superpower he can summon called “Word of God,” which can make anyone do whatever he wants.
Marsden, who returns as mutant hero Scott “Cyclops” Summers in next month’s “X2: X-Men United,” has long been attached to play Jesse with Ennis reportedly onboard to write and Rachel Talalay (“Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare,” “Tank Girl”) in the director’s chair.
The actor said it was the book’s mature themes and complex character dynamics that attracted him to the material. “I [like] the maturity of the relationship between Tulip and the Preacher, the mix between the issues that it deals with, that it’s kind of a Western and that he walks around with the image of John Wayne around him.
“I also like the bravery in Garth Ennis’ writing. He’s not afraid to tackle the hypocrisies of modern religion and things like that. A couple of people have said, ‘Boy, if Garth Ennis had created a religion, I would sure like to be a part of that.’ It just makes sense, the way he tackles things in it. It’s really heavy stuff [and] it’s incredibly well written.
“It’ll be interesting how much of middle America is gonna migrate towards [those] kind of themes [in a movie],” he added. “But I definitely believe in it and would love to be a part of it once it all kind of assembles itself.”