‘Preacher’ exclusive: Jodi Lynn Thomas on filming experience, embracing the ‘weird,’ and more

On this past episode of “Preacher,” we had a chance to witness a rather unusual storyline go down regarding the Tulip character learning a thing or two about the treatment of some local prostitutes. As a result of that, she decides to take some matters into her own hands with some more-than-chaotic results. It was a fun storyline to follow for many reasons; it was a little zany, it had a surprising conclusion in the hour, and each one of the women involved had their own unusual aesthetic and personality.

One of the women involved in this story was actress Jodi Lynn Thomas as Pearl, who came up with her own unique take on her character and how she fit into this world. Recently, we had a chance to talk with her about playing Pearl, being on this set, and how she’d love to appear on another popular New Mexico-based show.

CarterMatt – I have to imagine being on set for this was a weird, fun experience.

Jodi Lynn Thomas – Absolutely! I love weird, so this really was perfect for me to be a part of. (Laughs.) Anytime that they threw out something that everyone was like ‘that’s strange,’ I was like ‘yes, let’s do it. Let’s get into this.’

This is a show that — it just makes sense to me, let’s just put it that way. It’s fun, it’s weird, it’s dark, but also has a really good comedic twist to it. It’s got supernatural elements, and it’s amazing. It’s really cool to have something like this on TV. I love it.

So when did this first come into your orbit?

I’m not going to lie to you — I love being on set. When I first heard about ‘Preacher,’ I just knew that this is something that I really wanted to do. Pretty much a year ago they shot the pilot here [in New Mexico], and I had wanted to work on it for about a year. I had no news as to whether or not it was going to be picked up as a series, and then when it was and they came back and started casting, my first audition, I got it. It was that quick and I was really grateful.

How did they explain the role [Pearl] to you, and what you were going to be doing?

That’s a good question! My role is obviously a prostitute. You hear prostitute, and my thought was ‘oh my god, am I going to be in my bra, or in my underwear, what’s happening?’ I got the sides before I got the role, so I had an idea of what it was going to be like. I went into wardrobe after I got the role, and those girls were wearing trashy, fun, weird clothing. They are a different kind of prostitute. They all have this innocence about them; they’re more than just ‘oh, you’re just prostitute #1.’ They are more involved, and that’s what I really like about the role that I got.

Did you have a lot of time during production to see the bulk of the cast?

I pretty much met everyone I think, and that was awesome. They were all as amazing as you want them to be, and that’s a huge relief. That’s really cool, because you meet Dominic Cooper and you just think ‘I hope he’s nice to me’ (laughs), and he was! He was a friendly British man, very polite. Everyone was really cool, and were there for a higher purpose.

Really appropriate for a show about a preacher.

(Laughs) I meant it more from the artistic side, but I know what you mean!

What was your familiarity with the source material going into this? Did you know the comics?

No, I didn’t. I had done some research before I started working on it. I’m still reading the comic; I have it on my desk … Also, there’s a part of me, it’s weird, where I want to be surprised by things. I wanted to know enough about the show so I could be in it, but not enough where I would get in my head. I waited towards the end to get the comic and started reading it, and I’m sort of taking my time because I’m also watching the show. I’m trying to not mix too many things in at once here.

When you approach this sort of character in Pearl who is within a sort of weird, supernatural world, do you try to play into those circumstances at all? Can you really tap into what any sort of experience would be like when it is so far beyond what we really know?

For this character, it comes from a place of ignorance, and for me that works because she doesn’t know what’s happening. The audience doesn’t want to see the homework [behind making the character]; they want to see an honest reaction to what’s happening in the moment. There were a lot of things that I did with Pearl, but overall I really just worked from a place of surrendering to the moment, and pretending like everything that was happening around me was happening, which isn’t always easy to do but that is the job. That’s where it really came from. There is a lot of me in her, and I think that’s where a lot of the reactions come from.

What else do you have coming up? Do you have any other shows or movies that you’re working on right now?

I have a film coming out this October, and we just got news it has a national theatrical release, so that’s good news. It’s called ‘Priceless.’ It’s about sex trafficking, but it has some other elements to it like a nice, romantic element. It’s got a cool story. I’m really proud of that one. I think there’s a lot of heart that was put into that film so I hope people get a chance to see it.

What are some of the other things that you are looking to do and explore a little more? You’ve done some really good New Mexico-based stuff like this [and ‘Longmire’]. I’m sure ‘Breaking Bad’ or ‘Better Call Saul’ has come up.

That was actually why I moved here, which opens me up for some awkwardness because I never got on ‘Breaking Bad.’ But, that does open up the possibility of being on ‘Better Call Saul.’ I found ‘Breaking Bad’ through a friend, and I was just thinking in my head ‘I have to get on this.’ I’ve met Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul, I’ve met them through parties and running into Aaron Paul at the grocery store. (Laughs.) I haven’t been on it yet, but cross your fingers!

Thomas could not say whether or not you’ll see Pearl turn up on “Preacher” moving forward, but given the scope of the show we’d presume anything is possible.

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