PETALING JAYA, Sept 3 — Pitch Perfect actor Adam Devine is trading in singing acapella to play a young megachurch pastor in the HBO’s satirical The Righteous Gemstones.
The show tells the story of the fictitious televangelist Gemstone family who behind their vast fortune and charitable work, lies a tradition of deviance and greed.
In a phoner interview with Asian press members, Devine said his on-screen megachurch family is just like any powerful family who runs a conglomerate.
As such, he believes viewers in Asia will be able to relate to the fun series.
“There’s a lot of greed, infighting and it’s also very funny,” he said from Los Angeles.
Growing up Catholic, Devine revealed he was jealous of his friends who attended big megachurches just like that of the Gemstones in the series.
“The Catholic religion is very traditional and these Christian megachurches were awesome.
“They had rock climbing walls for the kids, they had popcorn machines, it seemed like everyday was a party for these kids,” said the Iowa-born actor, adding that kneeling on hard wooden panels was not as fun for him.
Devine plays Kelvin, the youngest of the three Gemstone siblings while Danny McBride (who created, wrote and directed the show) plays his elder brother Jesse and actress Edi Patterson was cast as their sister Judy.
Taking on the role of the Gemstone patriarch is John Goodman.
The dark comedy casts a spotlight on the hypocrisy of those hiding behind the veil of religion.
The 35-year-old actor said the idea appealed to him because no one has done a show on corrupt megachurch pastors.
“You see these people throughout the years that are embezzling money and getting caught doing cocaine and getting caught with hookers.
“Most of them are great people but there’s definitely some maniacs in the bunch and I think this was the perfect show to bring that to light,” the Workaholics star said.
With religion being a tricky topic to navigate, the show finds a delicate balance of mocking the hypocrisy of certain megachurches, while not isolating certain portions of the audience.
“No one likes hypocrites, I think that’s a pretty universal truth across the board that no one likes when people are saying one thing and doing another.
“Especially people that are taking advantage of other people on such a grand scale like some of this megachurch pastors are,” he said.
Devine credited McBride and the writing team for doing an amazing job of keeping the show fun and edgy without alienating religious folk.
“Danny keeps saying, ‘Who am I to say what happens after you die?’ He certainly doesn’t know and I know I don’t know.
“They did a great job of making fun of this specific family and not as a whole,” Devine said.
To nail the part of pseudo-hipster Kelvin, Devine observed megachurch pastors to see how they dress, talk and walk on stage, especially the youth pastors whom he says try their hardest to be cool despite coming across a little forced.
The stand-up comedian also said credit goes to McBride for giving him free rein to make the character his own.
“I never had an idea he shot down. Everytime we wanted to try something, we did another take. As far as being an actor goes, you can’t ask for a better job and boss,” he said.
The Righteous Gemstones airs Mondays 10am, exclusively on HBO GO and HBO (Astro Ch 411/ 431 HD). The episode encores on the same day at 11pm on HBO.