Hand of God: Five Things to Know About the New Taboo TV Show

by | September 3, 2015 | Comments

Hand of God — a one hour drama about a judge, Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman), with shaky ethics who claims God is guiding him in his quest for vigilante justice — is Amazon Studios’ newest streaming show to hit the waves. Before season one completed production, Rotten Tomatoes was invited to a set visit to check out the studio digs, watch some shots, hear a table read, and chat with the stars.

Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Hellboy), Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives, China Beach), Julian Morris (Once Upon a Time, Pretty Little Liars), and Alona Tal (Cult, Veronica Mars) talked passionately about their new show and how Amazon has recently been breaking new ground. But we also got to talk about other cool things too, like taboo TV topics, heated spiritual conversations on set, going to dark places, televangelists, and home shopping networks!


HAND OF GOD CONFRONTS THE TABOO TOPIC OF RELIGION HEAD-ON

HandofGod_S1_61_101_0050.CR2

While most shows veer away from topics like religion, Hand of God takes a more confrontational approach. Delany said of the hot-button topic, “We tend to be making fun of it or go fundamentalist. We tend to go to extremes in our country.” But that’s not the case with HoG.

The show thrills Perlman “in its portrayal of the stuff that we tell ourselves and build up for ourselves; to make us feel like we’re happy, and we’re whole, and we’re functioning, and we’re good citizens. But there’s this darkness that is always lurking underneath; every single piece of light has got a shadow behind it, and every shadow has light.”

Perlman told us the show examines everything we do in society that “kind of anesthetizes us into thinking that we have an order and conscionable life, and then there’s all the other s—. That’s the stuff we suppress with things like career, family, religion, God, etc. So there are these lines that keep getting blurred and then crossed out in this show… It’s so daring, and it’s not afraid to look at everything including God and religion in the most exposing of lights.”

When asked about discussions of spirituality that abound on the set, Morris said it can get heated. “But it’s a smart show,” he said “You need to have that debate.” Alona Tal agreed. “Dialogue is always a good thing,” she said. “Your mother always said ‘don’t bottle it up;’ all of it is important.” She feels that discussing things and trying to see the other perspectives are essential for any communication. “Not necessarily [regarding] religion on its own,” she continued. “It’s intolerance, impatience, judging — in all walks of life.”


THESE ACTORS HANDLE GOING TO “DARK PLACES” IN DIFFERENT WAYS

HandofGod_S1_43-50_101_0082.CR2

These actors have got to go to some dark, dark places in Hand of God. How do they get there? Delany, who plays Judge Harris’ wife Crystal, finds it cathartic playing such somber roles. “That’s pretty easy for me — the darker, the better,” she laughed. “I don’t have a problem going to dark places at all. I find it enjoyable because we don’t get to do it in our life.”

Perlman and Tal agreed that it’s important to keep it light on the set while playing with heavy material. “I find that I have to be super light to keep my sanity,” said Tal. “It’s not healthy for me to be in that state all the time.” Perlman feels supported by the excellent, vivid writing, which allows him to “get there” more easily, not just once, but for up to 35 takes. To do that, though, he must accept certain conditions of human nature. “I’ve made peace with myself a long time ago as an actor that the human genome is capable of everything and anything,” he said, “and that the reasons we don’t go down certain paths is not because they don’t exist inside of us, but because we’ve been socialized… [in a] kind of Pavlovian way… But that doesn’t mean we’re not capable of horrendous and horrific things if put in the right circumstances.”


JULIAN MORRIS DREW INSPIRATION FROM TELEVANGELISM (AND HOME SHOPPING CHANNELS)

HandofGod_S1_15_101_0053.CR2

Playing a preacher comes easier to Morris from his time as a youth watching television preachers… and home shopping channels. He was drawn to the preachers’ charisma and confidence, and the comparison to the shopping networks is evident. “Listen, you’re selling something,” he said. “The shopping channels have a lot to thank televangelism because if you go back to early TV, you had blocks of time when there was just dead air. At first that was filled around the country with televangelists. And then after that, the shopping networks saw, ‘Ok, well, they’re selling, you know, Heaven — let’s sell recorders! Or binders, or jewelry, or coats!’”

The televangelists that have intrigued Morris from the get-go include Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and T.D. Jakes. “These people are the most magnificent performers,” he said, “outside of what they’re preaching. And none of it is really motivational or really fantastic, but their powers of performance are incredible. Could you imagine T.D. Jakes playing any role in Shakespeare? You give him Richard III — he would be phenomenal. And they’re electrifying in spite of what they’re saying.” He feels that marrying the televangelical sales technique with salvation as a product may bring a great deal of power. “So when you have that much power, you can do a lot of good. You can also do a lot of bad. And that, to me, is why Paul is such a fascinating character because he does have the chops to be one of these great televangelists. He has that charisma. But he’s also kind of bent.”


RON PERLMAN BELIEVES AN ACTOR SHOULD TURN OFF THE “ACTING” BETWEEN TAKES

HandofGod_S1_03_101_0031.CR2

Perlman is a consummate pro, always coming to set having completely done his homework, which includes making decisions about the scene’s arcs and the writer’s intentions. “It’s kind of like you’re a musician and you’re just deciding what’s legato, what’s staccato, what’s fortissimo, so there’s a lot of that.”

And he doesn’t believe in staying in character when the cameras aren’t on. “I really, truly believe that the only time you should be playing the role is between ‘action’ and ‘cut,’” he told us. Once properly prepared, Perlman can focus fully on the reality of the scene at hand and the presence of the character. If someone is too preoccupied , that actor can get ahead of — or behind — himself, which doesn’t serve the material. “I know a lot of guys who get wrapped up in things and stay in character,” he said. “I just think that’s complete bulls—… When you’re doing it, you’re doing it; and when you’re not, you should not be doing it.”


THE CAST WOULD SAVE THE WORLD IF IT COULD

HoG_0200.CR2

Hand of God is a spiritual journey of divine intervention. Perlman’s character is convinced that God is leading him to avenge injustice. Whether or not it’s true in the reality of the show is yet to be seen, but we were able to hear from the cast about what they would accomplish with a little bit of divine assistance.

Perlman would choose to tackle hatred. “Hate is basically just an offshoot of fear,” he said. “Everywhere you turn, there are these hate-based actions taking place all over the globe. Tribal. ‘We’re going to destroy you so we can feel safe.’” He believes people need to “understand that they’re part of a community, know that nobody is better or worse than anybody else in their core, and live and let live. I just don’t get that. I don’t get why if you believe something, somebody else has the right to destroy you for it.”

Delany immediately thought of natural earthly disasters. “Things like earthquakes in Nepal,” she offered. “More of the environmental thing, because [resolving] that would take care of people for years and centuries to come.”

Tal, born and raised in Israel, would make everything peaceful on that side of the world. It’s one thing to wish for peace anywhere, but since she has first-hand life experience in such a tumultuous environment, she wishes she could just say, “I command thee, peace! Boom!” or offer guidance on how to create that peace.

This cast of characters would make for an awesome team of superheroes!


Hand of God premieres Friday, Sept. 4 on Amazon.

Tag Cloud

Awards Tour Set visit Hollywood Foreign Press Association spinoff Turner versus Discovery Channel justice league die hard Peacock ESPN X-Men marvel comics elevated horror Calendar The Arrangement harry potter Bravo Tumblr french sitcom USA Network children's TV Disney Channel Emmy Nominations rotten slasher Turner Classic Movies jurassic park DGA Ellie Kemper 94th Oscars universal monsters Baby Yoda unscripted Alien CW Seed psycho Pop TV dramedy Universal BET marvel cinematic universe adenture hispanic Brie Larson sports GIFs debate streaming DirecTV Trivia TNT renewed TV shows Neflix social media natural history book adaptation ID all-time latino VOD spain best television kaiju adaptation Valentine's Day Anna Paquin asian-american DC streaming service Academy Awards boxing FXX Toys AMC Apple OWN Thanksgiving tv talk james bond Pet Sematary Endgame based on movie movie Summer award winner feel good biography Sci-Fi indie National Geographic canceled TV shows Freeform Star Trek 2018 prank transformers First Reviews sequels a nightmare on elm street trailers Broadway Countdown Wes Anderson Martial Arts target Tarantino 71st Emmy Awards 73rd Emmy Awards YouTube Premium kids Fall TV dragons TV One FOX Extras TBS doctor who Apple TV+ TCM Television Critics Association cancelled TV shows Nominations HBO ghosts The Witch 93rd Oscars 90s Cartoon Network TCA Winter 2020 BBC festival book MCU Kids & Family Mary poppins cooking screenings TCA 2017 romantic comedy Adult Swim Amazon Studios summer TV preview South by Southwest Film Festival worst Crunchyroll YouTube Red fast and furious Marathons Warner Bros. popular A&E leaderboard Shondaland olympics Star Wars 45 supernatural archives hist ratings Reality critic resources Mudbound festivals Family romance stop motion Best Picture high school indiana jones cartoon Comics on TV police drama comic book movies mutant comics heist movie genre Paramount AMC Plus Logo international japanese australia women dark quibi Cosplay Comic Book spy thriller crime thriller Elton John Red Carpet 20th Century Fox FX on Hulu anime CBS All Access live event Columbia Pictures 2016 DC Comics 2017 animated SXSW new star wars movies YA Biopics Netflix SDCC Watching Series Video Games Tubi rt labs critics edition thriller mcc discovery parents nature spanish NBA Box Office what to watch franchise Disney+ Disney Plus Crackle Pixar The Walking Dead LGBTQ Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 007 History child's play MSNBC MGM comedies south america crossover Binge Guide Instagram Live superman black comedy E! Black History Month Nickelodeon documentaries Women's History Month VH1 twilight Lifetime toronto blockbuster Horror laika Certified Fresh dc San Diego Comic-Con lord of the rings NYCC IMDb TV nbcuniversal streamig Mystery Paramount Network Election interviews Hulu japan American Society of Cinematographers BBC One monster movies period drama mockumentary Britbox Hallmark razzies diversity finale Disney streaming service Marvel Television venice comic Holiday Legendary rt archives Photos rotten movies we love Avengers biopic psychological thriller 2021 Food Network Ovation Sundance TV CNN Premiere Dates new york Sony Pictures Western kong Creative Arts Emmys reviews Oscar TV movies Best Actress blockbusters space Netflix Christmas movies young adult sopranos facebook Country Song of Ice and Fire travel broadcast Quiz halloween MTV Drama video on demand medical drama Best Director docudrama dogs golden globe awards Pacific Islander foreign batman historical drama Spring TV GLAAD FX classics Opinion TV green book hollywood theme song El Rey hispanic heritage month cops anthology 2020 free movies vampires Musical Schedule Action cars Film Festival ABC BBC America Mary Tyler Moore movies blaxploitation Focus Features DC Universe Travel Channel 24 frames 2019 Emmys golden globes Oscars Trophy Talk Dark Horse Comics Teen E3 Infographic Universal Pictures canceled scene in color docuseries Grammys OneApp Captain marvel Paramount Plus Super Bowl 2015 new zealand christmas movies trophy CBS HBO Go Chernobyl President Writers Guild of America Comic-Con@Home 2021 Cannes spanish language Comedy Animation pirates of the caribbean Year in Review wonder woman screen actors guild spider-man APB superhero Interview Heroines black composers aliens rt labs SundanceTV Nat Geo science fiction Pride Month obituary Television Academy disaster Rom-Com vs. dexter YouTube satire live action GoT revenge independent action-comedy breaking bad Tokyo Olympics comic book movie Rocky criterion CMT NBC Lifetime Christmas movies Syfy politics cinemax ABC Family Amazon Prime game show Amazon rom-coms Pop chucky Exclusive Video Hear Us Out directors cancelled Mindy Kaling 4/20 Prime Video Disney TCA Awards WGN Superheroe boxoffice Disney Plus Superheroes Spectrum Originals witnail richard e. Grant Reality Competition Holidays halloween tv The Walt Disney Company zombies ABC Signature ITV Musicals comiccon cats HFPA toy story TIFF zombie stand-up comedy Music Spike Lucasfilm spider-verse technology summer preview Walt Disney Pictures Tags: Comedy RT21 21st Century Fox Awards TV Land royal family TCA posters name the review cults talk show serial killer Tomatazos aapi political drama true crime scary telelvision video godzilla TLC TruTV Polls and Games legend Showtime comic books Starz saw mob Sundance basketball scary movies Winter TV gangster streaming movies VICE Masterpiece Black Mirror Acorn TV king arthur stoner Classic Film 79th Golden Globes Awards dreamworks cancelled television Fargo Paramount Pictures Stephen King robots RT History films Epix news Marvel Studios Fantasy BAFTA war Rocketman Fox Searchlight obi wan Hallmark Christmas movies IFC Films documentary crime Best Actor remakes 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards joker series worst movies Sneak Peek Ghostbusters 99% A24 reboot Christmas LGBT concert Film zero dark thirty Lionsgate PlayStation slashers cancelled TV series casting Character Guide suspense Arrowverse Shudder Apple TV Plus deadpool Podcast The CW PaleyFest Best and Worst Mary Poppins Returns teaser sequel BET Awards jamie lee curtis emmy awards Rock Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Vudu art house fresh WarnerMedia crime drama SXSW 2022 adventure critics 1990s Trailer werewolf Winners The Purge First Look sag awards Pirates The Academy New York Comic Con know your critic binge See It Skip It miniseries IFC Funimation scorecard Esquire PBS ViacomCBS Image Comics football 72 Emmy Awards Amazon Prime Video dceu Fox News HBO Max Comedy Central summer TV strong female leads nfl Marvel king kong USA italian mission: impossible TV renewals singing competition hidden camera Sundance Now game of thrones