Hamming It Up
Gaiman’s TV adaptation of his and Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens is coming to UK terrestrial TV this January and here’s one of its stars Jon Hamm who plays Gabriel talking about it…
Do you see any similarities between Gabriel and any other characters you played?
Yes. Playing Gabriel is not dissimilar to playing Don Draper. I hasten to add that I don’t dress like Gabriel or Don in real life! Don’s idea was that when he walked into any environment, he was putting on a costume and playing a character. His stage was his office. Gabriel is not that guy, but he is a manifestation of perfection. He has not a hair out of place or a spare thread hanging. It’s meant to be intimidating.
Does it work?
No. Gabriel thinks it’s perfection, but it’s not true. I see versions of that in several different characters. It’s the idea of someone whose outward manifestation is perfect, but whose inward manifestation is less so. Gabriel is so committed to his image of perfection that he doesn’t notice what’s in front of him.
Could you please outline your character for us?
My take on the Angel Gabriel is that he is a very officious guy. He wants to go by the book, and the book in this case is one we are all very familiar with! The part should be played as it is written. He is the officious guy from head office who does not brook any contradiction.
Is Good Omens a depressing piece?
No. It’s ultimately positive. Despite the dark hue and the malcontent ideas that Neil plays with, at heart he’s a sweet optimist. That’s the tone and the taste that you’re left with. We probably shouldn’t have an army; we should just rely on our better nature. That’s a really nice message to give people right now.
Will it provide escapism in these turbulent times?
Yes. Escapism is something we want from TV. This will make you feel good before you turn on the news. Watching Good Omens, you think: “This is way sweeter than the nonsense that’s on the news.” This drama is a great appreciation of what we can do as people to make the world better place. There is a terrific sense in Neil’s work of people pulling together and talking sense. It’s saying: “Maybe we have had a rough year, but there’s always tomorrow.” I really hope people feel better after watching this.
Do you feel like TV is going through a halcyon period?
Yes. People are talking about a new golden age of TV. It is enabling creative people to put their imagination on screen and make it compelling for the viewer.
Do the advances in special-effects technology help?
Yes. There will always be storytelling that doesn’t depend on visual effects, but with those effects you’re able to tell wild, fantastic stories like this. There’s been a recent uptick in dramas like this. Shows like The Handmaid’s Tale and Game Of Thrones present different universes that filmmakers are now able to realise because technology has caught up.
Why is it the right time to be making this?
I’ve always thought Good Omens would be such a great movie, but in the old days, you could have never done it. It would have looked DIY and would have lacked the grandeur that this story deserves. I’m reminded of the old Doctor Who with the cardboard sets! It did not look as advanced as it should have. But now the technology has caught up with the creator. The artistry matches Neil’s vision. This story is so clever and so funny, and now you can tell it with all the bells and whistles. It will be really entertaining – as long as we don’t mess it up!