Preacher on AMC is one of the craziest hours on TV week in week out. Approaching the midway point of its second season, each episode has offered jaw dropping scenes, combining Tarantino level violence with laugh out loud comedy. This season features a search for God himself, an unstoppable cowboy from Hell, and actual Hell where a character called “Arseface” routinely talks with Hitler. This week at San Diego Comic Con, the gang from Preacher showed off a trailer for the second half of the season, which focused on The Grail, an evil organization competing with our heroes to find God. The only member of the Grail we got a close look at was Lara Featherstone (Julie Ann Emery). Back in episode 3, Emery first was a sultry blonde lounge singer who attracted the attention of Jesse Custer (Dominic Cooper). She proved way more than meets the eye, after sharing some intense screen time with Jesse, the audience watched as Lara ditched her wig and revealed her true identity. Last week, I got a chance to speak with Julie Ann Emery about her role on Preacher, the show, and her career.
Check out that interview below.
Geeks of Doom: Preacher is one of my favorite shows on television, and this season has blown season 1 away so far.
Julie Ann Emery: As a fan of season 1, I’ll take that as a compliment.
Geeks of Doom: As a fan then, what does it mean to you to be able to join this show with this cast of characters?
Julie Ann Emery: It’s not just being a fan season 1, it’s the creative minds behind it, too. Sam Catlin and Michael Slovis did Breaking Bad, there are so many high end artists to work with, that I would work with them on anything. But I’m such a fan of Preacher that it was a dream come true for me, and I went after the role pretty hard. All that aside, Lara is such a good role, I would’ve gone after it anyway. It’s such an amazing, complex, actionary female role.
Geeks of Doom: You’ve only been in one episode that’s aired so far, but you had a pretty compelling role in that one. You go from being the damsel in distress to being a very seductive character, then all of a sudden, you’re a lot more than meets the eye, and it’s obvious you’ll be playing a huge role later on. How important is it to play a strong female role, because I am noticing in a lot of the shows I watch and review, that strong female roles are becoming more prevalent on TV.
Julie Ann Emery: There are two things that are starting to take off much more on television than in film, strong female characters and also complex female characters. So not just the “girl with the gun,” but rather “the girl with the gun who has a complex internal life.” I think in the past, female roles have been stereotyped and we’re moving away from that. As an artist, it’s very exciting. It means everything to me. To now be a part of great show in such a creatively satisfying way, there’s absolutely nothing better.
Geeks of Doom: That’s great to hear. So again, you’ve only been in the one episode that’s aired thus far, and there was that great action sequence with Jesse after it appeared you were kidnapped. Do you have any big action scenes of your own, any major stunts we can look forward to?
Julie Ann Emery: Well that would a bit of a spoiler. I can tell you, I know people are anxious to see The Grail again, and there’s a lot coming up that will be very satisfying across the board. I don’t want to give spoilers, but I feel we take such great twists and turns. There will be a very big Grail presence.
Geeks of Doom: Yeah they teased so much in that one episode, and I kept waiting for them to get back to it this week, but this was a more emotional episode for the three main characters.
Julie Ann Emery: Yeah I know. Some fans really love the character driven episodes and some don’t. But you know, we got away with so much action so far in season 2… because there was so much time invested in season 1 in the emotional lives of our trio, the main characters. There’s so much investment in character development, which is a good thing in any movie or television show. But don’t worry. There’ll be plenty of Grail to go around.
Geeks of Doom: It’s funny. I actually wrote that in my review the other night, that in episodes like that, fans will complain that nothing is happening. But I feel on Preacher that those characters have earned your respect, and if they just want to stand and talk for an hour, you’re hooked.
Julie Ann Emery: Yeah. It makes you care more, you know you don’t want the Saint to kill everyone because you’re invested in these characters.
Geeks of Doom: You said you were a fan of Preacher. Did you read any of the comics in preparation for you role as Lara?
Julie Ann Emery: I had not dealt with the comics before. I grew up a fantasy and sci-fi fan, but the comics world was just not something that was readily available to me. But when fleshing out Featherstone, the character, I thought I’d go through Garth (Ennis) and Steve’s (Dillon) comics quickly and read the Featherstone bits, and then go back and do the rest, but that did not work for me. I got immediately drawn in. I tried to go panel by panel but a lot of the scenes with Lara have no dialogue so I’m using them to build her character development. But I’m reading them now. I’m about halfway through, and I love them and I don’t want them to end.
Geeks of Doom: Yeah, I stopped reading comics years ago, but when I start reviewing a show like Preacher, I’ll pick them up to do some research and they’re really good.
Julie Ann Emery: And they’re for adults. Comic book reading has evolved. They are so character rich. They’re explosive, high octane, and they manage an insane amount of storytelling in small amounts of time. It’s really impressive and they’re really well done.
Geeks of Doom: A question about your episode. Did you do your own singing? It was great if you did!
Julie Ann Emery: I did do my own singing, thank you. I hadn’t sung publicly in a long time, I used to do musical theater when I first started in my career. My husband is a Broadway singer and we were in New Orleans, and he helped me vocally. We had a brilliant staff and we worked and found the perfect arrangement for my voice and for the character. Because I’m not singing as myself, I’m singing as the persona, so you have to develop the persona of Lara the jazz singer, and then figure out what her voice sounds like. My natural singing voice is a little higher than that, so I tried to go lower, more breathy, and sultry specifically for the character. But thank you, I was really proud of it.
Geeks of Doom: You’re welcome. Also in that episode you had some crazy great chemistry with Dominic Cooper. As a fan of the show it felt like he was cheating on Tulip just talking to you.
Julie Ann Emery: It should, right? You could feel that tension there right?
Geeks of Doom: Definitely. What is it like sharing a set with this cast and hanging out on set? Especially, I have to ask, Joseph Gilgun, who comes across as such a wildcard. He’s so entertaining to watch.
Julie Ann Emery: So I’ve been mostly a journeyman actor in my career. I’ve had recurring roles on some of the best shows on television, and every set varies a lot as far as as how welcoming it is, or isn’t. The Preacher set is definitely great. It’s like some weird screwed up family for sure. Dominic, Ruth (Negga), and Joe are also very welcoming, there was no standoffishness. They were really excited when everyone showed up. Joe was very welcoming but he’s kind of a wildcard in life. He makes a ton of jokes… he’s not too different from Cassidy. He’s a lot more studied as an actor than you’d think. He works really hard on set at getting Cassidy just right, and he’s really delightful to be around.
Geeks of Doom: If he turned out to be a vampire in real life, I don’t think I’d be too shocked. It’s awesome as a fan to hear how inviting the set is because it raises the enjoyment level when it looks like everyone’s having fun.
Julie Ann Emery: Yeah it’s great. Even Graham McTavish is so effective at playing the Saint of Killers, he is so scary. Even in real life when he’s in all the get-up with the gun and hat and everything, but he’s such a nice man, such a wonderful human being.
Geeks of Doom: It’s funny. My wife is a huge Outlander fan and I’m a huge Preacher fan, and we met him at NYCC last year and he was genuinely the nicest guy.
Julie Ann Emery: It’s such a transformation. And he also has very little dialogue and the dialogue he does have is repetitive. But he is that character and it’s such an impressive acting job.
Geeks of Doom: So when will we see Featherstone next?
Julie Ann Emery: I’m not supposed to talk about it. AMC is keeping things very close-lipped. I am a series regular so you can expect lots of Featherstone coming up. I will say this… I am so very happy with the writing for my character, and I am very excited where things go this season.
Geeks of Doom: One final question outside of Preacher. As a veteran of some of the best shows on TV, what was your favorite role or experience, aside from what you’re doing now?
Julie Ann Emery: You know, it’s funny but Featherstone has topped my list now. I’ve been lucky to have played a wide range of stuff, not just repetitive characters. Betsy Kettleman on Better Call Saul was definitely a highlight. I did not understand her when I first read her. One of my early experiences was a short lived series called Line of Fire. Rod Lurie directed it and that show really set a tone for me. It holds a special place in my heart. We were all trying to make each other better, which doesn’t happen all the time on network television.
Geeks of Doom: I really appreciate you giving us a few minutes. Good luck with the rest of the season of Preacher.
Julie Ann Emery was incredibly polite and very fun to talk to. It was exciting to hear how enthusiastic she was about Preacher, her role on it, and the cast in general. You can see Julie Ann as Lara Featherstone on Preacher, Monday nights at 9:00 EST only on AMC.
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About Julie Ann Emery:
Best known for her breakout recurring role in “Better Call Saul,” AMC’s highly buzzed about prequel to “Breaking Bad.” “Better Call Saul” revolves around Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk), the shady lawyer of Walter White, the hero of “Breaking Bad,” and is set roughly six years before the two men meet. Julie Ann Emery currently played the role of Betsy Kettleman, one of the most mysterious characters in the series, who at first glance appears to be an average wife and mother, but has much more going on underneath. She can also be seen in the film “Gifted,” along side Chris Evans and Octavia Spencer.
Julie Ann is also known for the feature film “Hitch” (“a sweet turn by Julie Ann Emery as Eva Mendes’ best friend”…USA TODAY), Julie Ann Emery made her big screen debut in the hit romantic comedy alongside Will Smith and Kevin James. Building on that momentum, she went on to star as Holly in the hit indie-comedy “History of Future Folk” and as Annie Cayne in the family film “Dakota’s Summer” with Keith Carradine.
No stranger to the small screen, you may also recognize Emery as “Ida Thurman” from the Emmy and Golden Globe winning mini-series “Fargo,”with Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Oliver Platt, and Bob Odenkirk, She starred as Special Agent Jennifer Sampson in Rod Lurie’s critically acclaimed series D”Line of Fire” (“an agent so fiery and confident…she’s reminiscent of Jodie Foster in The Silence of The Lambs”…NY Daily News). Emery also worked with Lurie as Secret Service Agent Joan Greer on ABC’s political drama series “Commander in Chief” alongside Golden Globe winner Geena Davis and Emmy winner Donald Sutherland. Emery appeared as Amelia Keyes in Stephen Spielberg’s Emmy nominated mini-series, “Taken,”and in recurring roles on USA’s “Suits,” Direct TV’s “Damages,” “The Riches” for FX, Showtime’s Emmy-nominated drama series “Dexter,” and NCIS.