Danny McBride Talks Leap of Faith With HBO's 'Righteous Gemstones'

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“I think a lot of times when Hollywood does stories about religion, what they do is criticize or lampoon people for their beliefs and I don’t have any interest in doing that,” McBride told THR at the show’s premiere.

HBO gathered the faithful at the Sherry Lansing Theatre on the Paramount lot on Thursday night for the premiere of the newest series, The Righteous Gemstones. Stars Danny McBride, John Goodman, Adam DeVine and Edi Patterson were all on hand to walk the white carpet and celebrate the release of the dark comedy set in the world of southern megachurches.

The show follows the Gemstone family, led by Goodman, the successful and ruthless pastor of an arena-size megachurch, and the struggle for power and influence amongst his three children, played by McBride, DeVine and Patterson.

McBride was inspired to create the show after he moved to Charleston, S.C., two years ago and was struck by the area’s depth of religious feeling.

“It got me thinking about my childhood of going to church and growing up and it had been a long time since I had been to church.... I started researching these megachurches and seeing how they’ve adapted and grown and changed things to keep people interested and it suddenly felt like a world that I wanted to set a story in.”

He also made clear to THR that the point of the show was not to make fun of religion or people of faith.

“I think a lot of times when Hollywood does stories about religion, what they do is criticize or lampoon people for their beliefs and I don’t have any interest in doing that. I don’t know enough about what I believe to cast judgment on people about what they should believe or not believe so for me it was about creating a story that felt authentic to this world.”

The theater’s lobby was transformed into the Gemstone Salvation Center, complete with church pews, a wall-sized family history and votive candles. There was a cocktail reception before the screening where guests sipped wine and snacked on french fries and grilled cheese sandwiches.

DeVine stars in the show as Kelvin Gemstone and he shared that he was happy to be cast by McBride despite an embarrassing experience the first time they met years ago.

“I’m such a fan of Danny’s. When I met him for the first time I was at a party and I said, ‘Oh my God, you’re Danny McBride,’ and I had like a true fan moment. And he goes, ‘Yeah, man, good to meet you. And I go, ‘You’re a bright, shooting star,’ and he goes, ‘What?’ And I grabbed my girlfriend and had to leave the party because I just embarrassed myself in front of my comedy hero.”

True to McBride’s previous comedic efforts, the show alternates between moments of light comedy and dark plot twists that kept the audience laughing and on the edge of their seats at the same time.

Patterson plays Judy Gemstone, the only daughter and the family’s often ignored middle child. She told THR that she thinks fans will respond to the strong comedic chemistry the cast has.

“The very first day of shooting it was me, Danny, Adam and John and we were standing at the mother’s statue, there was an immediate thing with all of them. It was so easy. It was so fun and it was one hundred and twenty degrees outside. The conditions were not easy, but everything about it creatively was like, ‘Oh, wow. Holy crap. This is right.’”

Following the screening, HBO hosted a lively afterparty in the theater’s courtyard. A large purple neon cross loomed over guests as they indulged in a lavish southern style buffet.

The Righteous Gemstones will premiere on HBO on Aug. 18.