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In case you missed it, there’s been a rumor circulating that DJ Caruso, director of I Am Number Four and Salton Sea, is in the running to helm an adaptation of the excellent Garth Ennis-Steve Dillon comic series Preacher. The report surfaced late yesterday from /Film‘s Peter Sciretta, who attributes the information to a “well-placed Hollywood spy.” Speculation has been running high since September, when Total Film reported, via producer Neil Moretz, that a then-unnamed director had signed on to replace Sam Mendes, who dropped out five months earlier in favor of the next James Bond film.
Preacher was published from 1995 to 2000 by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Over the course of 66 issues, Texas preacher Jesse Custer goes on a search for God — the actual big guy in the sky, not some metaphorical hooey — with his hitwoman girlfriend Tulip O’Hare and a frequently drunk, dubiously trustworthy Irish vampire named Cassidy. The story goes to some wild places and some dark places, and some wildly dark places, too.
Getting back to the news at hand, I actually had Caruso on the phone yesterday before the Preacher rumor broke for a chat about his new release I Am Number Four. You can look for a full report from that interview later this week, but the Ennis series came up rather randomly in the course of our conversation, so I thought it would be worthwhile to break out this snippet today.
Caruso was once connected to a film adaptation of the comic book series Y: The Last Man. Although the project failed to go anywhere, it’s clear from hearing him talk about it that he appreciates the story. I Am Number Four, with its superpowered aliens, got me wondering whether he’d ever go after a comic-book adaptation again, so I put the question to him directly.
“I love the Wild West, man. I really love Preacher,” he replied. “It’s fantastic. I think that’s what would sell me [on taking on a comic book project again]. I don’t know if this is still what’s going on with it, but Sam was going to direct it, Sam Mendes, and John August was writing the screenplay.”
It’s hard to say how to read that comment. Caruso could be playing ignorant while these rumored talks are under way. The fact that he volunteers Preacher as an example could even speak to that possibility. Alternatively, the rumor could be simply that, and Caruso just genuinely loves the series. As anyone who’s read the Ennis series knows, it’s hard not to.
The appeal for Caruso in both Preacher and Y is the big-picture stuff. “I like those because I think there’s something, as cool and as fucking gnarly as they are, there’s a great sort of core good vs. evil. The genesis [in Preacher] being the mating of the angel and the Devil in a way,” he explained. “I love that kind of stuff. I love big themes, things like that. For me, it’s something that I love and I read, but Y: The Last Man and Preacher are the two that I like a lot [for film potential treatments].”
As a follow-up, I asked if comic books are a direction he’d like to move in again with his filmmaking, despite Y never getting off the ground. “I’m always wide open,” he said. “But I think what’s happening is, Hollywood is just jumping on the bandwagon and trying to capitalize. It’s got to be a picture that you as a filmmaker can relate to and tell a good story for. So yeah, I’m always wide-open for [opportunities like that].”