Last year Empire talked to Sam Mendes about his planned Preacher adaptation and today, in between asking intelligent questions about his latest movie Away We Go, we got the latest on the project from the Oscar winning director. And the good news is that Preacher is inching closer to fruition - and that there is a script.
"It's getting closer," says Mendes. "I've seen a script and it's very good. We're a little further down the road than when I last spoke to you."
Created by comic-book wizards Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, the titular Preacher is Jesse Custer, a Southern priest inhabited by a heavenly being called Genesis in incident that kills off his entire congregation and sends him onto a demented hunt for an explanation. From God. If you're not familiar with the comic-book series, think Jonah Hex turned up to 12, with added supernatural powers and a supercharged moral indignation that makes Harry Callahan look like Reg Hollis. Click here for our full blow-by-blow.
If all this fire and brimstone sounds like an unusual choice for a man who's specialised in beautifully-crafted explorations of American family life, rest very assured for Mendes is a Preacher fanboy: "I love graphic novels - Road To Perdition was based on graphic novel - so I'm used to that form and Preacher is absolutely brilliant. I certainly feel it's a movie."
"It's funny, it's violent as hell, it's extremely blasphemous and profane, but it has an amazingly skilful tone," says Mendes. "I met Garth Ennis and I'm just a huge fan of it."
Custer, Tulip and Cassidy may have to wait in line, however, for Mendes to finish another adaption. Joseph O'Neill's Netherland is next on the Mendes slate, with screenwriter Christopher Hampton (Atonement) currently working on a first draft. "It's a brilliant novel but not an obvious film, so it needs a fair amount of work. I'm definitely committed to trying to make one out of it, though, and if anyone can do it, Christopher Hampton can. He's the most wonderful writer." The New York-set novel about an ex-pat who discovers cricket does seem an uncanny fit for the New York-based ex-pat cricket fan. "I thought 'I can't not do this', or at least try...". More on both projects as we get it.