“I try to shock people in new ways”

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“The Righteous Gemstones” star Danny McBride said Season 2 of his HBO comedy did not deliberately borrow from recent real life church scandals — including Justin Bieber’s former Hillsong preacher Carl Lentz getting fired for “moral failings”His cheating on his wife. 

“It actually stresses me out when these stories come out,” McBride, 45, told The Post from the show’s South Carolina set. 

“Because I’m like, ‘People are going to think we’re copying them – and they’re copying us!’ It is kind of crazy when you’ll see headlines and you’re like, ‘Wow, this stuff isn’t too far off [from the show].’  But I try to stay away from what’s in the headlines, because people already got that when they read that news article. So, I try to find new ways to shock people.” 

Amber (Cassidy Freeman), Jesse Gemstone(Danny McBride), and Amber (Cassidy Freeman), preach to their megachurch. “The Righteous Gemstones.” HBO

“The Righteous Gemstones,”(returning Sunday at 10 p.m.) The series follows a wealthy family of megachurch pastors and televangelists in the Bible Belt who live on a sprawling compound. They often travel by private jet.

There’s widowed patriarch Eli (John Goodman); his arrogant oldest son Jesse (McBride, also the series creator); people-pleasing youngest son Kelvin (Adam Devine); and daughter Judy (Edi Patterson), who bristles at the sexism of this world. Other family members include Jesse’s oblivious wife, Amber (Cassidy Freeman) and Eli’s brother-in-law “Baby”Billy Freeman (Walton Goggins). 

“Any time we have to do a church lunch scene, it’s one of the few times where you have everyone in the cast there,”McBride said. “So those would be the times we end up cracking up the most. Because there’s so many funny people sitting around the same table, and sometimes we try to f–k with each other and make each other laugh.” 

Amber (Cassidy Freeman) is the husband and wife. Jesse Gemstone (Danny McBride), is their Evangelical empire in charge. “The Righteous Gemstones.” HBO

Season 2 is also adding several new characters, including Junior (Eric Roberts), who is an old friend of Eli’s; Lyle Lissons (Eric Andre), a new friend of Jesse and Amber; and Thaniel (Jason Schwartzman), a journalist from the East Coast. 

“Eric Roberts is a legend [and] I always love getting to work with people that have so much experience under their belt,”Freeman, 39, spoke to The Post. “He was fascinating to work with. What I love is that everyone always comes to our show stoked to be there.” 

Amber Gemstone (Cassidy Freeman), the family matriarch, is “The Righteous Gemstones.” HBO

McBride, who resides in Charleston, SC with his family and children, but grew up in Virginia and was raised in Virginia, said that he got inspiration from his childhood experiences. This was because his mom was heavily involved with the church. He continued drawing from his own experiences in Season 2, he said, particularly for Kelvin Gemstone’s plot.

“Kelvin has this ‘God Squad’ this season. He has this army of muscle men,”He said. “And when I was a kid, there was a traveling group of these Christian muscle-men who would rip up phone books and stuff, to show their strength. And so that was finally brought to life in this show.” 

Jesse (Danny McBride), looks at his Evangelical empire “The Righteous Gemstones.” HBO

However, McBride said he doesn’t base his characters on anyone particular from his own life.

“When I play Jesse, I always try to imagine who Jesse thinks he is – and I think Jesse thinks he’s like Elvis, or something,”He said. “So it’s always trying to play a character who thinks he’s coming off in a different way than he really is.” 

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