The HBO series returns on Sunday with two new episodes.
The Righteous Gemstones

The Righteous Gemstones

In March 2020, John Goodman and Edi Patterson were in South Carolina to begin filming the sophomore installment of their hilariously holy HBO comedy The Righteous Gemstones. Three days into production, the burgeoning COVID-19 pandemic shut them down. When they finally returned, creator-star Danny McBride had concocted an almost completely new season of television.

"We rewrote them on Zoom," says Patterson, who, in addition to serving as a Gemstones writer, plays Judy, the neurotic daughter of the televangelist family. "[McBride] convened like six of us and we met up almost every day on Zoom from August until after Christmas. It hit him as this idea that we could make it better — and I actually think that's what we did, which is awesome."

Gemstones is the third in a series of raucous HBO comedies from McBride, who previously created and starred in Eastbound & Down and Vice Principals, the latter of which also featured Patterson.

"He basically just told me about the idea of [Gemstones] and asked me if I would want to play his sister," the actress recalls. "Without seeing a script, I knew I wanted to be a part of it, whatever it was. Then, every step of the way, things got cooler and cooler and cooler."

The Righteous Gemstones
Edi Patterson and Tim Baltz on 'The Righteous Gemstones'
| Credit: Ryan Green/HBO

For Goodman, one of the industry's most respected actors, the offer to play Gemstone patriarch Eli came at the perfect time.

"I was on a situational comedy that shut down about two days before I got the offer from Danny," says Goodman, referring to the revival of Roseanne, which eventually was retooled as The Conners following the firing of controversial star Roseanne Barr. "So I had nothing better to do. [Laughs] But the script was so good that it was no thought, you got to do it."

All of the relationships between the respective Gemstones are unique in their own way, and that especially goes for that of Eli and his daughter.

"I love that lopsided dynamic," Patterson shares. "I feel like, as screwed up as she is, Judy would do anything to make him proud and make him happy. With that desperation, I think there's a ton of heart and comedy that can live inside of that."

When Patterson jokes that Eli does indeed love his kids, it's just that they're "really hard to love," Goodman cracks, "Real hard to love." He adds: "I love her, but I keep her at arm's length because I don't know what she's going to do next. It's true love, but it's difficult."

The Righteous Gemstones
John Goodman on 'The Righteous Gemstones'
| Credit: Ryan Green/HBO

Not making matters easier in that department was Judy's decision between seasons to secretly elope with the ever-sensitive BJ (Tim Baltz), who continually serves as the family's punching bag. But the unexpected wedding will be trumped by an unexpected visitor from Eli's past. McBride previously told EW that this season's "deep dive" would be about the origin story of Eli, which kicks off with the arrival of Junior, played by Eric Roberts.

"In my own mind, I had previously written a bio for myself, and this surpassed anything I came up with; it makes all the sense in the world," Goodman teases. "Junior brings out a whole different side of Eli. Eli's got a slightly different accent when he talks to Junior, and I noticed it in myself, I said, 'Jesus, he's going to West Memphis now.' It's a different sound and I just started doing it naturally with Eric. We hit it off from jump street. God, he's a lot of fun to work with. And, initially, Eli wants to be as far away from that [history] as possible. A lot of his motivation is trying to escape his past, but he kind of digs it [Laughs]. He's fairly comfortable there."

The Righteous Gemstones
Eric Roberts on 'The Righteous Gemstones'
| Credit: Ryan Green/HBO

And Patterson is fairly comfortable co-signing McBride's promise of a "bigger, nastier, and crazier" return.

"It's even wilder than last season," she admits. "When you filter down from the patriarch and things that Eli's dealing with, and you see how he deals with it, and how it affects everyone else's lives, I just think there was something so fun about that setup. And P.S., if you have John Goodman as that patriarch, you can't go wrong!"

The Righteous Gemstones will be resurrected this Sunday on HBO.

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