Jodi Lynn Thomas previews PREACHER and the cause she’s championing

Jodi_Lynn_Thomas_SAGJodi Lynn Thomas recurs as Pearl on AMC’s recently-renewed Sunday night hit PREACHER and we spoke a bit about the show, and the causes that she finds herself championing.  Have a read through!

What a show! 
I love it.  It’s so brave.

Brave is a good way to put it. It’s not afraid to do what it wants to do.  You have a character named Arseface!
Right [laughs]. That show wouldn’t work if it wasn’t brave.  It’s like nothing else on TV right now.

You can’t say that about a lot of shows these days.  They’re a spinoff, they’re a reboot, or they’re something we’ve seen before. 
There’s a lot of formulas that they just know works for TV and sometimes that can be fun.  I’m into a lot of procedurals and stuff, even though it can be formulaic and stuff, but overall, it’s really nice to see a show that is so out of nowhere, and work, and have such a huge fan base.  It seems to be going really well with the fans and it’s getting a lot of great commentary and followers.  It’s just really exciting to be a part of all that.

It was in the works for a long time; they tried to make it right and honor the source material. 
Yeah, and that’s what I think is so cool about it.  It takes it’s own spin off of it; there is stuff that isn’t exactly true to the comic books.  They take some freedom which I really appreciate but at the same time, it stays true to the overall tone of the comic books and the fun.  Everything that the people follow the comic book for I think will still appreciate it because it does stay true to that overall tone.

Talk to me a little bit about Pearl – who has she been to us this season?
So she’s a smaller character but she is kind of a cool element that they added where there is a lot of darkness in the show, and there’s a lot of these sins, and then they have the Toadvine House – what was kind of a cool element was how they kept these prostitutes, in our minds, prostitute equals sin, but every action that they make, always come from some kind of innocent place.

Were you a fan of PREACHER the comic series before getting involved?
They started shooting the pilot here last year before they officially started doing the series, so I had kind of heard about it, people were talking about it. There was this little “Seth Rogan’s here!”  Around that time last year, that was the first time I had heard about it.  And then when I heard AMC, and Seth Rogan, PREACHER, all of that stuff, that’s when I started to look into it.  When I got the script, it wasn’t like “oh I don’t know what this is about.” I had a general idea, but before that last year, I didn’t have any idea what it was about!

I like that they built in that ToadVine is a part of this world and we can continue to revisit – we get just enough about the characters to know them.
They’re three dimensional, which is really cool.  Everyone has a full story background, even the smaller roles.  Everyone had an objective in mind, everyone was communicative.  They were always helping the actors; sometimes I’ve been on sets before where you’re a small part, you say a line, you get off set.  It wasn’t necessarily the case with this show.  They gave everyone a purpose for being there.  They gave everyone arcs for when they were on set, which is really cool and rare.  That doesn’t always happen.  I think that’s what is so cool about these misfit characters – you almost instantly relate to them and you see their pain, through their choices, and it makes them instantly relatable even if you can’t relate to the things that they’re doing, and the supernatural aspect of everything.  The show does keep it grounded so you see the humanity in it all. It makes it fun.  These guys coming back after you think they’re dead, and this vampire.  It adds a surprise element to the show, and they do keep it grounded, but they have these crazy things happening and amazing fight sequences and also, it appeals to a whole other audience that are really into this.

AMC has been so consistently great – MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, TURN, now PREACHER, you name it.
I agree!  Once I heard that this show was going to be on AMC, that almost automatically in my mind meant “oh it’s going to be an amazing show!” [laughs].  That doesn’t always happen – it’s a cool thing that AMC is doing – just by their name, I’m automatically convinced that something is going to be good.  You know that they’re doing something right when you feel that.  My favorite shows have been on AMC – THE WALKING DEAD; I’m a huge fan.  MAD MEN, HALT AND CATCH FIRE is a really cool new one that’s come out recently.  Yeah, they’re taking risks and I think it’s paying off.

I think people are afraid to take risks – I watch everything, but I feel like I’ve seen it all before.
It’s the same thing with movies and a lot of art – art is not great if it’s safe.  I know as an actor that my work is not good if I’m playing safe.  There’s something that when you don’t take risks, people get bored.  A lot of the stuff, let’s just say they rely on money a lot [laughs].  It’s understandable.  In order to have a business and a thriving business, you need to rely on money, so what they do is they see what works and what works, they put money into.  Then, all of a sudden, we’re closing things in, and leaving out all of this other stuff that could be amazing that we’re not giving chances to.  When people take risks, and somebody’s willing to go out on a limb on a show that they’re not sure is going to work, based on past precedence, but they want to take a risk, not only do we see a change and huge things that come out of it, but I think we also open the doors for a lot bigger things. Not just shows – but we can totally throw in booking females in lead roles, mixing things up with race.  Open up our eyes, open up our minds, and we take more risks and chances, we give a lot more people a lot more opportunities to do amazing things.  People have that choice and they can make it.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a formulaic show, either, because I do enjoy them, but it is really amazing that I love indie films more than anything; they’re the ones taking risks! [laughs]  It’s really cool what we can accomplish together when we do that stuff.


What are you working on or what else can we look forward to?
I did a feature film last year called PRICELESS which talks about sex-trafficking and has a commentary on that, but it’s also a love story, a romance, and I had a really strong emotional tie to that one.  The role that I booked, it was a little too close for comfort [laughs].  I’m not a prostitute, but it was a prostitute role, and that one got a little too close to home.  Even to the point where I was in the audition and they asked me how I related to the character, and I just opened up, and tears were coming out.  It’s a strong project for me, and I think it’s going to speak to a lot of people.  I hope that the work that they did and we did together creates some kind of communication about that stuff.  A lot of people don’t want to talk about it, and a lot of people want to have an opinion but it’s not always educated.  And I think if people were to look into the causes of this stuff and what really happened, I think we could make some changes and make a difference, because a lot of the stuff my character, for example – I could connect to her even though I hadn’t been in her shoes. It’s emotional.  We have the same human feelings and the same storyline.  That’s the great thing about being an actor – I was able to connect to her even though I don’t relate to the story, and I hope other people will be able to relate to her and the other characters as well.  I think we can make a difference.

I think with a lot of the stuff like that, people are so used to seeing something like that being sensationalized in the movies and they don’t connect to the fact that it could happen in real life.  But it’s happening and we need to start the conversation.
The sad thing is that it’s happening too much without anybody talking about.  People see this stuff on TV and it’s dramatized and they make assumptions about [sex trafficking] and they don’t see what’s actually really happening or what could cause that to happen, or people can actually land in that lifestyle.  It’s not always their fault; a lot of people want to place blame and make sense of out of things because it doesn’t make sense to them, and the truth is is that it really happens all the time.  The numbers are ridiculous.  I’m from Las Vegas, NV, originally, but even as I watched these documentaries, it was blowing my mind how much this stuff was just available to people and there was nobody doing anything about it.  The scary part, on another note, with the whole prostitution side – prostitution is illegal, so one of the scariest parts of learning about it to me was that if a prostitute went up to a cop to ask for help, they were going to be most likely put into jail because they were a prostitute.  We don’t know how they landed in that role, or what happened to them, and when they ask for help, not even the law can necessarily help them because of the walls we have put up.   That’s interesting and something I would like people to maybe talk more about – it’s worth a conversation, if anything. If you don’t agree, or you have other thoughts, it’s worth a conversation, it’s worth talking about because these are people’s lives so it does matter.

Have you gotten involved in any specific charities or support groups yet?
Oh yes, all of the above.  Once I got finished with that project, I had already been involved in a lot of charitable things, a lot of them have been with animals. Growing up, my mom was an assistant veterinarian and she worked at a pet shop, and so I grew up and we took in a lot of abused pets, and that always was really difficult to me – to understand how somebody could hurt something that can’t even speak up for itself.  That was always a really scary thing.  I adopted a rescue dog and put my voice out there for animals.  I’ve created my own scholarship fund; this is more for entertainment purposes, but for people who have less income, we created a scholarship for people who can apply to go to workshops and classes where they wouldn’t normally be able to afford, and that’s been a really cool thing.  I haven’t gotten directly involved with the sex trafficking conversation yet; a lot of that was this project, but I know when it comes out, I will be doing more of that and will be looking into more of that.  I talked to somebody on set who was doing some of the stuff that they do in the film, where they go in, and they save these women – just hearing those stories, I’m not going to lie; it scared me.  They put their lives at risk for people they don’t even know.  The things that they have to do – you can easily get killed doing any of these things, and it’s hard for them to leave, so you’re taking a huge risk for maybe not a huge pay off.  Maybe you do all this stuff, and you put your life at risk, and this person doesn’t want to leave, and you could have gotten killed for just being there.  A lot of that stuff, I did speak to some people. It blows my mind and I have huge respect for those people.  I don’t know how I’m going to get directly involved, but I do plan on getting involved!