Good Omens 2 cast on Heaven and Hell and everything in between: “the most radical thing I’ve seen on TV”

For many fans of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s 1990 novel Good Omens, Prime Video’s 2019 screen adaptation surpassed all expectations: not only did it boast a dream cast – its leading characters, angel Aziraphale and demon Crowley, were played by Michael Sheen and David Tennant – but the script was written by Gaiman, who had been spurred on by a posthumous letter from Pratchett that encouraged his old friend to press on with the project.

The reviews were equally enthusiastic, with the Standard calling the show “devilishly good” and a “zany apocalyptic comedy”. How could it not be, really? Here was a Gaiman-penned comedy series about Heaven and Hell, armageddon, the antichrist, and two incredibly old and cynical angels– one of whom had become particularly fond of all of Earth’s delights: Glyndebourne and Châteauneuf-du-Pape included. Frances McDormand was the voice of God, Brian Cox was Death, and Benedict Cumberbatch was Satan – TV really doesn’t get better, or sillier, than this.

Now the show is back, and having already dealt with the book’s plot in season one, Gaiman (and co-writer John Finnemore) has had free reign to take the storyline in any direction. This time it’s Angel Gabriel (Jon Hamm) who is causing the duo issues, as he arrives in London’s Soho nude and unaware of who he is, or what he’s doing. His appearance sets off an increasingly chaotic chain of events that once again draw the attention of the bossess at both Heaven and Hell.

In keeping with the show’s quirky meeting of new and old (the creation story, set forth by a floating David Tennant) and familiar meets unfamiliar (a bow tie-wearing angel in Soho), some of the cast reprise their old roles. Others, like Nina Sosanya and Maggie Service, have come back as new characters. A handful have undergone actor switches: Bridgerton’s Shelley Conn, for example, has replaced Anna Maxwell Martin as Lord Beelzebub.

“To get to play a character who… tells a story over the whole season has just been a real total unexpected dream for me,” says Service. “It’s really rare to get to explore a different corner of the universe in the same show.”

Maggie Service as Maggie (Courtesy of Prime Video)
Maggie Service as Maggie (Courtesy of Prime Video)

The Red Dwarf and Doctor Who actor played a demonic nun last season, and now plays sweet and earnest record store owner Maggie. On paper, it looks like a personality switch as stark as night and day, but the show constantly plays around with notions of good and evil – Sheen and Tennant’s flamboyant characters are the perfect example of this – making the change over less clear-cut.

“I loved being a satanic nun,” adds Sosanya, who also made the switch and now plays coffee-shop owner Nina. “We were all really lovely characters, even though they were satanic... And then coming back was just kind of delicious because you get to do a whole new thing but with a lot of the same people, which is rare on telly.”

By all accounts, filming season two was a blast. Cast members including the show’s leading angels (Liz Carr’s Saraqael and Quelin Sepulveda’s Muriel) and devils (Conn’s Beelzebub and Miranda Richardson’s Shax) were given a lot of space to lean into their complicated and sometimes hilarious characters. “You know, it’s larger than life. And yet, we’re all playing it for real,” says Carr.

“On set and off, there was just a great camaraderie with people, and just some amazing actors that you found yourself privileged to be working alongside,” she adds. This season, McDormand, Cox and Cumberbatch have not returned, but a number of actors including Siân Phillips, Peter Davison and Alex Norton have joined the cast.

Nina Sosanya as Nina (Courtesy of Prime Video)
Nina Sosanya as Nina (Courtesy of Prime Video)

Gaiman popped up on set sometimes, which also gave the actors a boost. Plus, the actual filming sites were fun to work in: Heaven, for example, was filmed in a derelict ex-office building, partly transformed into the glistening white hanger that’s seen on screen.

“You had this beautiful room, but only half of it was beautiful,” says Carr. “The rest was just a regular old office block – carpet tiles and everything.”

Meanwhile, detailed life-sized streets were built inside a hanger to create Good Omens’ Soho. “Absolutely everything was either hilarious, or beautiful,” says Service. Although much of the look of season two was inherited from season one, actors were still able make their roles their own: Conn added gloves, a bowler hat and a little fly pin to Beelzebub’s now famous get-up.

Season two leans more into its different relationships: shop owners Maggie and Nina have a blossoming friendship, while the new show’s trailer hints that something romantic could be brewing between Aziraphale and Crowley. Following on from all the drama of season one, where the duo spent most of their time trying to outsmart their respective bosses, they’re now spending a lot more time on planet Earth.

“At the end of season one, they’re no longer affiliated with Heaven and Hell, respectively,” says Service. “So season two is an opportunity to see them in a completely different realm.”

Jon Hamm as Angel Gabriel (Mark Mainz/Prime Video)
Jon Hamm as Angel Gabriel (Mark Mainz/Prime Video)

Sosanya adds: “From their very first meeting, from before the beginning, they have had a spark between those two characters... And just watching any characters on a journey together is kind of fascinating.”

The sweet and more subtle relationships at the heart of Good Omens balances the series’ more explicitly dramatic storylines, which often involve the breezy subjects of the universe: God, creation and the apocalypse.

“[The show is] maybe making the point that it is those small, or seemingly small, human emotional things that make the world go round,” says Sosanya. “Those little interactions between people every day – that’s actually just as big and universal as battling heaven and hell.”

Service agrees: “Whether you’re a human or an angel or a demon, everybody is searching for something.”

Good Omens is not all silliness, after all. By playing with the notions around good and bad, the show works as a subtle reminder about “the shades of difference,” as Carr puts it, “that maybe reflects representation, [or] diversity.” Carr, an international disability rights activist as well as actor, was thrilled to join the series for a number of reasons, but it was Gaiman’s understanding of her disability that really won her over.

“I learned that my angel would float in heaven, in her wheelchair, and on Earth. Any barriers that she came across, she would perform a miracle, and everything would become accessible,” says Carr. “When Neil told me that I was like, that’s absolutely the most radical thing I’ve seen on TV, in terms of disability. For years, if ever.

“I thought, my God, you’re so smart, and so clever. There I am in heaven, where I’m meant to be this cured and whole person. And instead, I’m just as I normally am, but I’ve got a great chair.”

Quelin Sepulveda as Muriel (Courtesy of Prime Video)
Quelin Sepulveda as Muriel (Courtesy of Prime Video)

So what can fans expect from season two, which sees Douglas Mackinnon returning to direct? The cast are in a consensus that the next chapter is moving, thought-provoking and full of adventure.

“I think this season has a real sense of... uncovering a mystery,” says Service. “It’s just got some really joyous minisodes that dart all over the place.”

“I think it’s doing what good sci fi and fantasy does; it asks the questions,” says Sosanya. “It’s using the ideas, our very human ideas, of good and bad ... to answer profound questions about the human condition.”

Good Omens season 2 is released on Prime Video on July 28