After nearly 30 years holding the title of a worldwide best selling novel, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's notoriously "unfilmable" 'Good Omens' has at long last been adapted for the screen. The politically satirical fantasy novel tells the story of an angel (Michael Sheen) and a demon (David Tennant) who form an unlikely friendship when they team up to prevent Armageddon. The novel has been transformed into a six part mini-series for Amazon Prime by Gaiman himself, and was directed entirely by Douglas Mackinnon ('Doctor Who').
After speaking with Tennant and Sheen, and the creators of the project, we also had the chance to talk to the other members of the cast about their roles and the challenges they faced. Jon Hamm, who stars as the Angel Gabriel, described his excitement at having been personally asked by Gaiman to feature in the adaptation: "When an opportunity like this beautiful novel, that they wrote so many years ago, gets to be filmed. I wanna be a part of that!" His character was not originally a part of the book, so Hamm had to create the character from the bottom up, admitting that he based the Angel on past bad bosses for whom he has worked, both in his acting career and time as a waiter: "I've certainly worked for a version of that idiot who comes in and tries to help and then ends up making it all worse".
Adria Arjona also shared her experience in the role of Anathema Device, the descendent of the prophetic witch, Agnes Nutter (Josie Lawrence). "I'm so proud to be a part of this because I didn't have to play my ethnicity," Arjona confessed. "I just got to be this woman and play her story lineally, which to me was really special".
Both Hamm and Arjona agreed that behind the humour and fun, the socio-political message of 'Good Omens' was extremely relevant. "It was written during a post Cold War, peace time situation. Everybody is getting along and it's like, what could go wrong? Well this is going to go wrong: there's going to be a biblical confrontation between good and evil," Hamm explained. "I think now we're seeing a little more of a practical experience of that happening. That's why it resonates still, because [nowadays] the conflict is seemingly never ending."
In the epicentre of this epic confrontation of ideologies, Arjona highlighted the fact that Sheen and Tennant's characters manage to find a"middle ground", despite their obvious differences. "There's a way to find a compromise in everything," Hamm affirmed. "If truly heaven and hell can come to an agreement on something, then I'm pretty sure that the Lib Dems and the tories can figure out a way through!"
Amazon and Netflix: Changing Times
Josie Lawrence (Agnes Nutter) and Miranda Richardson (the spiritual Medium, Madame Tracy) similarly shared their thoughts about the making of 'Good Omens'. Both actresses praised Gaiman and Pratchett's presentation of female characters; Richardson declared, "I love the fact that the genders are kind of mixed. I love the fact that [Ana] Maxwell Martin is Beelzebub and Doon [Mackichan] is the Angel Michael and nothing is ever said about the fact that's weird or not".
Richardson similarly praised the new found creativity that comes with the era of streaming platforms: "It's fabulous for people on both sides of the camera. Because you get to go on a journey [...] it's not here and then gone". Lawrence agreed, explaining that the creators were able to create "a six hour film", rather than being restricted to the television series format.
Hamm echoed the same thoughts as his co-stars, explaining that the project is only now made possible, thanks to the freedom that comes with working for streaming services: "It wasn't filmable in the 90s and the early 2000s, and now here we are in a new world of content delivery and content creation where you can make essentially a six-hour movie".
All six episodes are now available on Amazon Prime, as of May 31st.