Michael Sheen has told Sky News that the late Sir Terry Pratchett was “very present throughout the filming” of Good Omens.
Pratchett wrote the 1990 novel along with Neil Gaiman, who previously said he brought the show, for Amazon Prime Video, to the small screen to fulfil the author’s dying wish. He died in March 2015 following a battle with Alzheimer’s.
The miniseries sees Sheen portray an angel, who must work with a demon, played by former Doctor Who star David Tennant, in order to save the world from an apocalypse triggered by the birth of the Antichrist.
At the world premiere for Good Omens in London, Sheen spoke about the pressure everyone felt to create something Pratchett would be proud of.
The actor added: “Neil took that very, very seriously as a sort of last wish of Terry’s, so Terry was very present throughout the filming of it.
“And in fact I believe his hat and scarf are going to be in the audience tonight, so he’s sort of with us tonight at the premiere as well, so Neil really took that on board.
“And we felt pressure as well, it’s hard not to feel the pressure of all the fans of the book, it’s so beloved and I’m one of them.
“I read it 30 years ago when it first came out, so to be able to be part of bringing it to the screen, felt like a huge responsibility but it was just a joy really in the end, it’s so beautifully written, there’s so many amazing people in it, we just had a real laugh.”
Speaking alongside Sheen at the premiere, which was stylised to resemble the Garden of Eden, Tennant agreed.
He told Sky News: “I think because Neil had written the scripts and was running the whole thing, that took the pressure off us to an extent.
“Because it felt like yes, this book is beloved and yes it has a huge expectation and desire to see this adaptation, but we’ve got the boss here, well one of the bosses, so any decisions we made, as long as Neil approved it, we knew we were on relatively safe ground.”
Tennant also predicted an apocalypse, like the one depicted in his new series, could be “seconds away”.
The 48-year-old, who recently revealed he’s expecting his fifth child with wife Georgia Moffett, claimed the current political climate in the UK and abroad had made the source material for the series “terribly prescient” once again.
His co-star Sheen compared the situation today with the period before the end of the Cold War, saying: “When they wrote the book Terry and Neil both felt like it was a bit weird because everyone was getting along so well.
“They were both writing about an apocalypse 30 years ago. It was the end of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall was coming down.
“But now, as the TV series is coming out, everything has started to get a little bit more apocalyptic.”
Tennant agreed: “It all feels like it could be seconds away. We can only hope that there are people who can stop it.
“If you want to drag a political lesson out of it, it’s that there are two polar opposite fundamentalist standpoints of heaven and hell – and the two who have any chance of solving it have to meet in the middle.”
Miranda Richardson, Frances McDormand and Anna Maxwell Martin are also part of an ensemble cast.
Good Omens is launched on Prime Video on 31 May.