Besides Michael Sheen and David Tennant as the angel and the devil, Jon Hamm and Adria Arjona also feature in Amazon Prime Video’s new original series Good Omens. I caught up with the actors in London on the eve of the show’s release and chatted with them about the series, their roles and their plan for doomsday.
Q: Hi Jon and Adria, welcome to The Quint. I’ll start off by asking you what’s your first memory of reading Good Omens? Did you read it when it came out in 1990? I’m sure you (Adria) read it much later.
Jon Hamm: I read it pretty soon it was first published. It was definitely from the early to mid-nineties when I read it. It was recommended to me by somebody and it was one of the first books that I took for reading, just for enjoyment and wasn’t assigned to me as part of my schoolwork. I didn’t have to write a paper on it or anything, I just really enjoyed the story and that brought me into Neil and Terry’s collected bibliography. It’s just a never ending parade of worlds and gifts and fun things to find and fun stories to read. That’s the thing I really remember the most about reading it was just how involved and epic and large and rich the story is.
Adria Arjona: I actually read the script first. I grew up in Latin America on a tour bus, I feel like I always have to excuse myself, which is almost like a cave, living in that tour bus all around Latin America. When I came back, I got the script. I read it and I really kinda fell in love with each and every single one of the characters, which were so well rounded and written in a non judgmental perspective where it makes every single character very human and relatable and understandable and I really like that about Neil’s and Terry’s writing. When I read the book, I read it in Spanish. It was just so much easier, I didn’t have to go to Google every other sentence which was really nice. As we were filming, I started reading more and more of Neil’s work and I just all of a sudden started getting so much respect for him as a writer and as a creator.
Q: Now, reading a character in a book, only gives you only so much. Then you have to add layers to it, to the physicality of it. So what did you bring to your character, Archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm), after you of course read the book?
Jon Hamm: The tricky thing is that my character is mentioned only in passing in the book, as just an idea. There’s no scenes, there’s no dialogue, there’s really nothing in the book other than he is one of the celestial entities and if you’re familiar with the Bible then you’re familiar with Gabriel and the whole deal, right? But the wonderful benefit I had was that I had one of the creators of the book sitting next to me to answer any questions and I don’t know if it is true or not but I’m virtually certain that Neil and Terry at some point of their years long process of writing the book, I’m sure that they had stories for all of the angels - Gabriel and Michael. But, probably they just didn’t need them, there had too much story. They needed to tell their story the way they wanted to. You could probably go off on a whole tangent about how the angels interact and behave and we see snippet or two of that in the show as the show goes on. That’s the benefit of getting another whack at telling the story. You can colour in parts that you didn’t have time to do in the book.
Q: What about Anathema?
Adria Arjona: I think if it would have been in any other process, it would have been a little scary for me because I understand that when you read something, you kind of create the world in your head and it’s tricky when you’re trying to create one vision or is it gonna match everyone else’s vision of this character. But in this case, like he said, I never felt like that as I had Neil right there. I could reference the book and I did, multiple times but I had the men that wrote it. Everything else that maybe he didn’t put on paper was on his mind. It was so much easier, for me and so much more comforting because as an actor you have to make so many choices. In this case, every choice was always reassured. I always kind of went back or if I did something that he didn’t think was very much like her, then he would comment and we would work on it. So I think that was the biggest gift of having Neil on the set.
Q: Now, if the world were really coming to an end, Jon, who would you be with in your last moment?
Jon Hamm: Probably, Adria. It would be really awkward for her fiancé. Sorry guys, it is on brand for the movie and Amazon asked that I come by (both laugh). I think you’d want to be around your family and your friends. I have very little family left at my advanced age. But I have really good friends and you know those are the people you spend your quality time with. And we live a crazy life, for in a moment’s notice we have to come to London and live in a hotel for six weeks to shoot this thing and it can be really lonely at times. Your family and friends are the people that really know you and you don’t have to be on or entertaining or anything. You can just be who you are and they are very accepting of that. Those are the people I consider very important in my life and obviously if the world was going to end, which I really hope it does not in my lifetime or anytime soon. That’s what I would choose, I think most people would choose.
Q: And you Adria?
Adria Arjona: I think so too. I think I would pick my two brothers - a nine-year old brother and a twenty-five-year old brother. I think we have done this whole life together, ever since we were babies. There’s never been a moment I remember, not being a part of their lives. So if I were to end it with someone, I think it would be my two brothers.
Jon Hamm: Or George Clooney. If you are anytime near George Clooney that would be really fun. There's always good coffee and a comfortable chair. So there you go.
Adria Arjona: Maybe I'll meet him at the end of the world.
Q: Thank you so much for talking to us and all the best for the series.
Jon Hamm: Thanks so much. Pleasure meeting you,
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