Note: This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike.The dream bromance we never expected, Michael Sheen and David Tennant just don’t quit. The pair make for a yin and yang, chocolate and vanilla, good and evil dynamic in the Neil Gaiman series, Good Omens. Like most of Gaiman’s work (including American Gods and The Sandman), Good Omens deconstructs popular mythology, lore, canon, and beliefs with playful wit and larger-than-life characters. Sheen and Tennant’s are no exception, playing the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, respectively.
The series chronicles their relationship since the beginning of humanity, back in the Garden of Eden. As The Hold Steady song “Cattle and the Creeping Things” goes:
I heard the dudes blamed the chick
I heard the chick blamed the snake
And I heard they were naked when they got busted
And I heard things ain’t been the same since…
Good Omens intertwines the history of humanity with the eternal lives of Aziraphale and Crowley, from that gardening mishap to a possible apocalypse. The excellent first season covered all the ground of the original book, which Gaiman wrote with the late, great Terry Pratchett, who passed away before the story continued. There were plans, however, for more, and the second season sees those come to fruition with a bevy of action, comedy, history, and fantasy, and a surprising depth of emotion.
Sheen and Tennant spoke with MovieWeb about the new season, their characters and mutual respect for each other, and the show’s meditation on the nature of good, evil, and humanity.
David Tennant Loves Michael Sheen
Sheen and Tennant are the proverbial angel and devil on humanity’s shoulders in Good Omens, two sides of the same coin in many ways. Thus, their performances are inextricably interlinked. We asked them what they admired about each other’s performance and how it brings out the best in their own character work.
“That’s two difficult questions rolled into one there, isn’t it?” opined Tennant with his characteristically charming accent. “I mean, I think that we very much enjoy working together. We’ve often said that, or certainly I feel that Crawley doesn’t really exist without Aziraphale.”
“Likewise,” added Sheen. Tennant continued:
And therefore, any performance that one gives doesn’t really exist without the other performance, and that’s what creates the whole, really. If there’s a sort of heart of the show. It’s, it’s where these two characters meet. And that’s always a sort of joy and thrill to play.
Michael Sheen Loves David Tennant
“I mean, I love watching what David does with Crawley,” explained Sheen, “around the idea of someone who, underneath everything on the surface, there is a kind of decency and a love there. And being able to see how he expresses that through kind of a mask of Crowley, I find that endlessly enjoyable and fascinating to watch. And I think, that’s as me Michael.” He continued:
“I think that’s also what pushes Aziraphale as well. So in scenes that are very emotional — I think you’re right, I think in season two, we get to some incredibly emotional places. And seeing what David’s doing, and what Crawley is doing, definitely pushes me and Aziraphale into places that you wouldn’t necessarily think that that character would go to.”
“Yes, and I think the thing that sort of sums up Aziraphale and what Michael does for Aziraphale, for me,” added Tennant, “there’s a sort of learned naïveté, there are two opposing things. There’s a creature who’s existed for millennia, but who seems constantly surprised about everything. There’s a sweetness to that, a kind of purity to that, that has a wisdom to it. And the two things shouldn’t exist at the same time, but there’s something that Michael captures that you can’t really bottle, which is what pulls Crawley in — and infuriates him at the same time!”
I think they’re both infuriated with and drawn to each other, irrepressibly.
Good and Evil Omens Alike
One of the most interesting thematic aspects of Good Omens is how it plays with theological and moral ideas of good and evil, and how they’ve remained the same in some ways by also evolved and relate differently to humanity today.
“What I keep rediscovering with this story and these characters,” said Sheen, “is that absolutism is dangerous. And that the window dressing of religions and philosophies and that kind of stuff can be the stuff that people kill for, and it’s the stuff that’s at the heart of it, which is always about loving, that’s what you need to get to, through the gray areas and the flaws.” He elaborated:
It is our flaws that make us aware that we need each other and that, through embracing your flaws, you reach out to someone else, and that’s what connects us. And I think that ultimately is what I keep finding in this story all the time.
“Good and evil are not simplistic concepts,” added Tennant, “that they all exist within a variety of shades of gray, and what trumps all of that is meeting somewhere in the middle for some sort of tolerance and kindness and understanding. I think that’s sort of at the heart of what Terry and Neil were saying, albeit dressed up in this wonderful, hilarious, glorious fantasy story”
“That’s why I think there’s such a great recipe in this story,” explained Sheen, “where you have these huge epic, apocalyptic, massive backdrops and contexts, and big philosophical questions being asked, but ultimately everything comes down to people being a bit rubbish at things, a bit inept.
“There’s something sort of glorious about that,” concluded Sheen.
There’s something pretty glorious about Good Omens season two, as well. All six episodes will be released exclusively on Prime Video on July 28th in more than 240 countries and territories worldwide. You can check out the trailer below: