'Good Omens' Casts Benedict Cumberbatch and Announces Premiere Date

David Tennant and Michael Sheen in "Good Omens" (Photo: Amazon Studios)

The highly anticipated televison adaptation of Good Omens announces not just a premiere date, but one last casting update: Benedict Cumberbatch!

Anglophile TV watchers know Amazon Studios recently got into the British television game. The streaming service has produced Masterpiece-style shows like The Collection (which eventually even ran on PBS,) as well as BBC adaptations of King Lear and more recently the new version of Vanity Fair. Perhaps the most significant move Amazon made, outside of the $250 million spent on the rights to Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, is the multi-series deal they signed with best selling author Neil Gaiman at the end of last year. This move came after working closely with Gaiman on the first adaptation ever of the beloved British classic comedy novel he wrote with Terry PratchettGood Omens

Good Omens is Gaiman's second TV adaptation after STARZ optioned and brought American Gods to the small screen in 2017. (Season 2 drops this March, and will immediately move to Amazon Prime streaming after each installment airs.) However, unlike American Gods, which is a multi-season epic with one episode a week, Good Omens is a one-off, a six-episode standalone miniseries. The official premiere date in May 31st and all six installments will arrive at once, making the show eligible for this year's Emmy race.

 

That was the big news dropped at the Amazon Good Omens panel, which was part of the final day at this winter's installment of the biannual Television Critics Association Press Tour. Gaiman was on hand, as were stars David Tennant and Michael Sheen. Tennant plays the evil demon, Crowley, while Sheen is the angel Aziraphale. Faced with the apocalypse and having misplaced the Anti-Christ, the two of them team up to try to save the world so they can continue their comfortable, Queen-soundtracked lives there.

As Gaiman stated at the panel, the series is a bit of a meditation on realizing where evil comes from.

Part of the joy of Good Omens is the idea that there is good and there is evil, but the weird thing is that you don’t find them in Heaven and you don’t find them in Hell; you find them in human beings.

 

The premiere date wasn't the only news announced during the Good Omens session, as Gaiman cheerfully noted that doing this series had brought the closeted fans of his and Pratchett's novel out of the woodwork.

For instance, when an undisclosed actor dropped out, Parks and Recreation star Nick Offerman was not only happy to grab the role, but even offered to pay for his own ticket to South Africa where the series was filming. This fandom helped the show nab a few more topline actors than initially planned as well. When it came time to cast Crowley and Aziraphale's bosses, the Good Omens cast list wound up with an embarrassment of riches, with Frances McDormand as God and the newly announced addition of Sherlock star Cumberbatch as Satan.

Yes, you read that right. God is an American. Somewhere David Bowie is muttering "I told you so."

The cast also includes Jon Hamm as the angel Gabriel (middle management), Miranda Richardson as Madame Tracy, as well as rumored guest spots for Mark Gatiss and Derek Jacobi. 

Good Omens will land on Amazon's streaming service on May 31 and will be available to watch for all Prime members.