The A-List Actor Who Could Have Starred In Preacher

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AMC's freshman series Preacher stars Dominic Cooper as the preacher Jesse Custer, and it's hard to imagine another performer in the role. According to producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, however, a different actor had once been in the running to headline the new show. James Franco himself could have been the leading man on Preacher. Here's what Evan Goldberg has to say about what might have been with Franco:

We had a nice conversation with James Franco at one point. He looks very Jesse-ish. He was into it but just literally he has to make 4,000 things in 20 different formats. It would take up his time and he wouldn't be able to do a Tori Spelling movie or whatever the hell he was going to do.

Evan Goldberg revealed that James Franco had been an early candidate to play Jesse during the Preacher press conference at San Diego Comic-Con (via Slashfilm). As great as Dominic Cooper is in the role, James Franco actually could have been a solid fit for Jesse Custer. Franco is no stranger to playing bizarre roles, and the preacher from the supernatural comic series by Garth Ennis could have been right in his wheelhouse. Besides, Goldberg is totally right that Franco has the right look for the Jesse of the comics. The cheekbones alone should have gotten Franco a callback.

jesse custer preacher comics

Of course, James Franco was never tied closely enough to Preacher that he would have been a serious candidate for the role of Jesse by the time production began. Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen apparently mentioned Jesse to Franco early on in the production process, years before Preacher would premiere on AMC. The three have worked together in the past on big screen comedies, but Franco has been busy enough recently that Goldberg and Rogen never seriously talked to him about joining the series.

Unfortunately, the show hasn't quite performed as well as AMC must have hoped. Unlike the other comic-based series on the network, Preacher's ratings have been mostly unimpressive throughout its first season. Still, Preacher has done well enough that a second season has been ordered. There's no saying if an A-list actor in the leading role would have resulted in better numbers right off the bat; hopefully more people will tune in to see Dominic Cooper as Jesse in Season 2. Who knows? Maybe James Franco could make a guest appearance. He may be too busy for a regular gig, but his connections to Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen could possibly pull him in for a one-off appearance.

Tune in to AMC this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET to catch the Season 1 finale of Preacher, and don't forget to check out our fall TV premiere schedule to see what you'll be able to watch on the small screen in the not-too-distant future.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).