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

Biopics Britbox Trivia DC streaming service Awards Tour Hulu facebook Lifetime Christmas movies Certified Fresh theme song First Look Rock spanish language Summer Adult Swim CMT Opinion 007 Lionsgate Pixar GLAAD Sony Pictures Amazon Studios Set visit MSNBC documentary Fall TV Academy Awards President zero dark thirty cats elevated horror Netflix Apple TV Plus Spike Toys name the review BBC America jamie lee curtis Sundance TV DGA animated Holidays Cosplay Martial Arts mockumentary romance WarnerMedia cancelled sitcom Winners Drama christmas movies Superheroes The Walking Dead dramedy Comic Book 24 frames ABC cancelled television 71st Emmy Awards SDCC FXX USA Network batman Fantasy Pirates joker green book stand-up comedy miniseries latino diversity Photos Mary Tyler Moore 21st Century Fox Bravo Year in Review docudrama revenge versus Trophy Talk First Reviews 2016 cartoon dragons period drama Pop Paramount Network Reality LGBTQ FOX Emmys Elton John Lifetime romantic comedy technology Grammys festivals Food Network Starz Dark Horse Comics transformers Creative Arts Emmys Ghostbusters Lucasfilm SundanceTV zombies Writers Guild of America Syfy Spring TV crime IFC Crackle screen actors guild halloween AMC reboot unscripted USA Sundance politics natural history PaleyFest television VICE mutant Marvel Studios Watching Series NBC sequel harry potter independent YouTube Red Marvel Television Sundance Now Paramount Awards casting NYCC thriller hist blaxploitation canceled TV shows ABC Family Stephen King CBS All Access El Rey sports Film Festival Ellie Kemper TCM Vudu cancelled TV series Mystery slashers 2019 dogs Song of Ice and Fire cars Discovery Channel Baby Yoda Disney Plus Esquire TV renewals Country dc Thanksgiving RT History Tomatazos Rocky Disney+ Disney Plus Star Trek Brie Larson binge crime thriller ESPN Interview American Society of Cinematographers comiccon Shondaland Comics on TV A24 Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Amazon boxoffice Crunchyroll biography Netflix Christmas movies Rocketman spinoff Mindy Kaling PBS medical drama serial killer Star Wars WGN DC Comics kids political drama robots Infographic Kids & Family Extras IFC Films X-Men CBS finale Amazon Prime Video VH1 breaking bad Video Games Animation Red Carpet Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt video supernatural Trailer MCU Super Bowl DirecTV CW Seed OWN The Arrangement Winter TV Schedule Acorn TV Calendar E3 Turner Classic Movies adaptation Comedy comic tv talk YouTube movies richard e. Grant TCA Winter 2020 HBO Max Chernobyl Tubi series Mary Poppins Returns History foreign science fiction Hallmark Christmas movies Holiday Women's History Month streaming HBO Classic Film BET cinemax CNN Masterpiece SXSW APB 45 The Witch screenings Valentine's Day Western Turner RT21 Spectrum Originals composers Hallmark Amazon Prime golden globes Mudbound Showtime Anna Paquin sag awards teaser Arrowverse award winner comics cops ITV cults indie Character Guide strong female leads Walt Disney Pictures The CW Apple directors spain Musical Captain marvel justice league Marvel historical drama dceu crossover Fox News Film Superheroe Oscars Box Office Sci-Fi Cannes witnail MTV space police drama ghosts based on movie 2017 Action Logo Disney Channel TLC Pride Month Pet Sematary Apple TV+ Reality Competition Television Academy Peacock GoT Avengers New York Comic Con discovery TruTV psychological thriller doctor who psycho A&E See It Skip It 2015 Tumblr cancelled TV shows nature free movies Teen what to watch toy story cooking spy thriller blockbuster Ovation Warner Bros. Horror YouTube Premium zombie San Diego Comic-Con Nat Geo Emmy Nominations OneApp Disney TV renewed TV shows Binge Guide BBC game show aliens Freeform TBS Marathons movie TCA 2017 true crime TIFF Nickelodeon adventure Election social media ratings LGBT Best and Worst Universal Nominations E! war The Purge Podcast Black Mirror Christmas disaster canceled south america TV Land werewolf Quiz Disney streaming service Sneak Peek children's TV Epix travel Premiere Dates 2018 Polls and Games crime drama talk show 20th Century Fox National Geographic anime GIFs Musicals hispanic Endgame Music Comedy Central game of thrones Countdown Shudder Rom-Com spider-man Heroines singing competition quibi Family Cartoon Network DC Universe Tarantino FX TCA anthology Columbia Pictures vampires TNT book rotten movies we love 2020 YA Mary poppins