Good Omens is a whimsical, joyous show about the least whimsical and joyous of subjects: The end of the world. Working off Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's cult novel of the same name, the Amazon Prime six-episode mini-series follows the demon Crowley (David Tennant) and the angel Aziraphale (Michael Sheen) breaking rank to prevent a long-fated Armageddon.
The TV show premieres almost three decades after the book's 1990 publication. "Neil [Gaiman] always talks about how this book was written at a time where everyone seemed to be getting along pretty well. Now that we've done the TV adaptation, it seems the world could end at any number of ways," Sheen told Refinery29 during a press junket for the show. "That's an unfortunate bit of timing for the world. But good bit of timing for the marketing."
Now, the news is full of predictions for when organic life will be coughed off the Earth's back. 2040? 2050? Tomorrow, with the push of a button? Good Omens is landing in a world that has the end of the world on its mind. We asked the star-studded cast of Good Omens for their apocalypse predictions and how they process the existential dread that comes with living in the year 2019.
"Not with a bang but with a whimper. We're being warned that the end of the world is nigh, and we should do something about it, in terms of climate change. It's hard to get people motivated, it seems, about the end of the world. Ironic. I remember growing up, when I was 8 or 9, and the hearing about the possibility of the end of the world for the first time. I watched a TV show about Nostradamus' predictions. The concept of the end of the world hadn't struck me then. Just the concept — my world shattered. I didn't sleep that night. I started having nightmares."
"It feels like a bang is more likely with every passing day, at the moment. It's an interesting time to be making a show about the end of the world. It does feel like it could come upon us sooner than we had anticipated, doesn't it? It feels like we're hurtling toward the end of days. I remember as a kid the Cold War was a very real thing. I used to lie in bed thinking of what would happen if they started firing weapons. That sort of went away, and now it's a whole 'nother raft of possible ends."
"Just the question itself gives me so much anxiety. There are so many existential questions surrounding that question that I have yet to figure out. I hope it ends in a flash. Just, boom. And that I don't know that it's coming."
"When my wife [Megan Mullaly] and I read articles in California about earthquake preparedness, I follow them and make sure that I have the proper supplies and game plan in place. But I don't have the capability to imagine the end of the world occurring. I grew up in a farm family. Either by nurture or nature or both, I'm only a pragmatist. Given all possibilities, I'm going to assume that the world won't end. But I come from a stock of Irish who can make things out of wood and catch a fish. Hopefully it won't come to this, but if it does let's try to all have a meal and get our distillery back in order as soon as possible."
"I try not to think about how the world is going to end, honestly. I find that growing up in the Cold War era where the end of the world was even more present than it seems to be now — it's a bummer. I think one of the things that the show really illustrates is just how nice it is down here. Wouldn't it be nice if we kept it a little while longer? That's a nice takeaway from the show. Just because something is meant to be inevitable doesn't mean it has to be. I'm a weird optimist."
Writer and creator
“I thought of the end of the world for years in the mid ‘80s, when it was Russia and America. You'd listen to people on the radio explain ‘mutually destroyed destruction’ as a deterrent. And you’re going, ‘What about not doing any of that stuff? Mutually assured survival sounds really good.’ We have no real evidence of more life out there. As far as we know, an awful lot of things that are happening on this plane is unique. There’s no sushi out there out in the universe. There’s no toast. Which is my way of saying, ‘This is a wonderful planet. It’s worth preserving and looking after.’”
"Death is seldom fast for human beings or anything. If the world is going to end it’s going to be slow and painful over millions of years, rather than some cataclysmic moment. Even if we had a nuclear war, everybody wouldn’t be dead. There’d be a pile of people who’d survive in New Zealand and they’d carry on without electricity. But I’ve got faith."
Good Omens is available to watch on Amazon Prime now