Graham McTavish returns as the Saint of Killers in Preacher Season 2. After spending the majority of the first season in Hell, McTavish is happy to see the Saint back in the land of the living.
"He's off the leash. If he was on the leash in the first season, I'm not sure he was," McTavish says. But now he's really, he's after them. But I think what's interesting about it is that it isn't just about a sort of relentless Terminator-like pursuit across the New Orleans landscape. It becomes a much more interesting emotional journey for the Saint as much as anything else, while still providing a staggeringly high body count that my character contributes to the show. He doesn't do things in surgical fashion, the Saint. There's a lot of collateral damage when he arrives on the scene."
Despite the body count, McTavish says calling the Saint of Killers a villain would be oversimplifying him.
"I would definitely say it's more complicated than that," McTavish says. "I suppose in pure story terms he is the antagonist to Jesse's protagonist. But within all that, none of the characters in the show are straightforward in terms of good and evil. The interesting thing, I think, that Preacher offers, both in the books and in the show, is that all of these characters are deeply flawed. That Jesse struggles. I mean, the very fact that he was chosen as the host for Genesis shows that he is a man that struggles with the bad side to his character. So does Tulip, so does Cassidy. And so does the Saint."
"But I believe that my motivation is from the standpoint of love, really," McTavish says. "It's the love of his family that motivates him. The promise of being united with them in Heaven. It's the deal that has been offered to him by Fiore in return for getting Genesis back to them. So this isn't a personal hatred of Jesse Custer. Jesse just happens to be the person that is carrying Genesis and therefore has to be disposed of. There's a very kind of pragmatic side to the Saint. This is the Butcher of Gettysburg we're talking about, here. He's not the Surgeon of Gettysburg. He's a guy that really goes in all guns blazing."
As McTavish explains, there are actually some parallels that can be drawn between Jesse's quest to find God and the Saint's quest to kill Jesse.
"In some ways, they're very similar, I think. I think the Saint would recognize that in Jesse," he says. "They both have a relentless side to them. They have an obsessive side. When I finally meet Jesse in the second season, in some ways I think we're both looking in the mirror and that makes both of us feel a little bit uncomfortable. Certainly Jesse, I think, begins to recognize and enjoy a certain amount of darkness in his character. Equally, the Saint, when he's looking at Jesse, and he even says at one point to Jesse, words to the effect of, 'You're like me. Don't think you're any different to me.' I think that's interesting and I think that's what makes the show overall interesting in a way that other shows examine the complicated nature of the world that we live in. That in an age of polarization, where you're either with me or against me and all of this sort of stuff, that Preacher among other shows offers a more mature, complicated view of our existence."
The Saint of Killer resumes his hunt for Jesse Custer when Preacher Season 2 debuts June 25 at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.