We’re just weeks away from reuniting with the dysfunctional and righteous televangelists we’ve come to know and love. Created by Danny McBride, the HBO crime comedy series The Righteous Gemstones follows a family of famous megachurch pastors led by respected patriarch and widower Dr. Eli Gemstone (John Goodman) and his wildly obnoxious children Jesse (Danny McBride), Judy (Edi Patterson), and Kelvin (Adam Devine) who have amassed an enormous empire that sustains their extravagant lifestyles.
Their reputation and pristine image is threatened when Jesse is blackmailed and pressured into giving $1 million to two strangers who have a tape of him and his friends engaging in unlawful and certainly unholy behavior. Over the course of Season 1, the Gemstones do everything they can to uphold the integrity of their family name as they get involved with some seedy and greedy people.
Praise be, Baby Billy! Here’s a cast and character guide for the eccentric folks that inhabit the world of The Righteous Gemstones.
Dr. Eli Gemstone (John Goodman)
Dr. Eli Gemstone is the face and long-time leader of the Gemstone family. He is the head pastor of the Gemstone Salvation Center which he started with his recently deceased wife Aimee-Leigh whom he regularly prays to and tries to make proud. While he also lives a pretty expensive life (the family has three private jets), he is by far the most down to Earth and genuinely religious member of the family. John Goodman is an Emmy-Award-winning actor known for his work in The Big Lebowski, Monsters, Inc., 10 Cloverfield Lane, and for playing Dan Conner in Roseanne. In addition to The Righteous Gemstones, he stars in The Conners on ABC and is the voice of Fat Freddy Freekowtski in the animated series The Freak Brothers.
Jesse Gemstone (Danny McBride)
Eldest son Jesse Gemstone is the whole gosh darn reason this crew got into this blackmailing mess! He’s quick to give in to temptation and has enjoyed his fair share of vices (including sex, drugs, and alcohol) but is trying to put that behind him to be a better family man for his wife Amber and three ungrateful sons, Gideon, Pontius, and Abraham. His greed and desire for more power and status in the church gets in the way, however, and pits him up against his fellow immature siblings.
Writer, director, producer, and actor Danny McBride is known for his raunchy comedy performances in projects such as Pineapple Express, Tropic Thunder, Eastbound & Down, Vice Principals, and This Is the End. He’s also produced a number of projects, including the recent Halloween and Halloween Kills, and will produce Halloween Ends, The Exorcist, and Hellraiser, which are in pre-production.
Judy Gemstone (Edi Patterson)
Judy Gemstone, the black sheep of the family, suffers from a serious case of middle child syndrome. She does her best to fit in and make her mark as the only daughter in the Gemstone family but is constantly being overlooked by her brothers and father. Judy tries to restrain herself from lashing out at her misogynistic relatives for their unfair treatment, but her craving for attention and unstable personality inevitably lead to screaming matches, doors slamming, and her sharing way too much personal information.
The hilarious Edi Patterson first worked with co-star Danny McBride playing Ms. Abbott in the equally-outrageous HBO series Vice Principals. The two instantly hit it off, and McBride hired Edi to play his sister and also be a staff writer on The Righteous Gemstones. She can be seen (or heard) in We Bare Bears, The Last O.G., Knives Out, The Fungies, and Troop Zero. She voices Talia in the podcast series Black Box with Kelsey Grammer and Joel McHale.
Kelvin Gemstone (Adam Devine)
As we learn in a flashback episode, Kelvin wasn’t expected (or wanted) by his siblings Jesse and Judy. Now as an adult, Kelvin specializes in connecting with the youth members of the church and spreading the word of the Lord to those who need it most. His prime example of his religious work is his best friend and roommate Keefe, whom he saved from a self-sabotaging and unholy lifestyle as a Satan worshipper. Kelvin is the only sibling that seems to be a true believer and to really care about living a moral life. He’s often mocked for his unique fashion sense and for his close relationship with Keefe.
Adam Devine is an actor, comedian, and writer you likely know from the hit Comedy Central series Workaholics which he starred in and created with Anders Holm and Blake Anderson. He also played Bumper Allen, the scene-stealing antagonist in Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2, a role he is set to reprise in an upcoming spin-off series for Peacock. He’s also appeared in Modern Family, The Intern, Isn’t It Romantic, and Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates.
Keefe Chambers (Tony Cavalero)
Keefe is quite the individual. He’s a not-so-bright and soft-spoken ex-Satanist with a heart of gold who idolizes his roommate and spiritual healer Kelvin. Though he is occasionally tempted to rejoin the dark side and return to his devilish roots, he worships the Gemstones and serves as the perfect example of religious transformation. He’s in endless awe of the Gemstones and their (alleged) admiration of God. Funnyman Tony Cavalero is in the main company at The Groundlings in Los Angeles and starred in the Nickelodeon series School of Rock. He played Ozzy Osbourne in the Motley Crue biopic The Dirt and has also appeared in Modern Family, Archer, and Miracle Workers. He’s also a graduate of the Virginia Military Institute.
Martin Imari (Gregory Alan Williams)
Martin is Eli’s most trusted ally and is in charge of making sure everything behind the scenes of the megachurch is going as smoothly as possible. He oversees the thousands of dollars worth of donations the Gemstone family receives and does his best to keep everyone in line. Actor Gregory Alan Williams is known for his work on The West Wing, Necessary Roughness, Greenleaf, and Chicago Med. He has 8 projects lined up, including My Perfect Wedding, which he’s starring in and directing.
Reverend John Wesley Seasons (Dermot Mulroney)
The Gemstone empire keeps expanding, much to the chagrin of local pastor Reverend John Wesley Seasons. John doesn’t have nearly as many followers as the Gemstones and is in no way able to compete with their enormous popularity and shiny presence. Though he pleads with Eli to reconsider opening up a new location right by his tiny church, the Gemstones do what they want (as always) and proceed to open a location in the Locust Grove mall. Dermot Mulroney is a very busy actor known for his work in The Family Stone, Young Guns, and My Best Friend’s Wedding. In recent years, he’s had recurring roles in New Girl, Shameless, Arrested Development, and Hanna. He has ten projects coming up, including the romance-drama Along for the Ride with Kate Bosworth and Andie MacDowell.
Baby Billy Freeman (Walton Goggins)
Billy Freeman is the bitter baby brother of the late Aimee-Leigh Gemstone. In addition to his impressive set of chompers, he’s got some deep-seated resentment toward Eli for stealing Aimee-Leigh from him and ruining their brother-and-sister song-and-dance duo in the process. While his body is in the present, his mind is stuck in the past. He still lives at his childhood home and continues to try to financially gain from his childhood act with his sister. Even though he and Eli have a contentious relationship, he’s called on to be the main attraction and head pastor of the new Gemstone Prayer Center in the Locust Grove mall. His new involvement in the Gemstone family, however, proves more harmful than helpful.
Walton Goggins is an Emmy-nominated actor from his work as Boyd Crowder in Justified. He’s a frequent collaborator with Quentin Tarantino, having appeared in Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. He’s also starred in Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Vice Principals, and The Unicorn. He currently voices Cecil Stedman in the Amazon Prime animated series Invincible and is set to star alongside Zooey Deschanel and Casey Affleck in Dreamin’ Wild.
Amber Gemstone (Cassidy Freeman)
Amber Gemstone is the loving and supportive wife of Jesse and mother to three young sons, Gideon, Pontius, and Abraham. While she doesn’t have a role in the church, she jumps at every chance she can to organize donation drives and emphasize the importance of religion and faith. She’s appreciative of and generous with her wealth and is seemingly unphased by Jesse’s outright obnoxious behavior. Prior to joining the Gemstones family, actress Cassidy Freeman played Tess Mercer in Smallville and Cady Longmire in Longmire.
Aimee-Leigh Gemstone (Jennifer Nettles)
Though she only appears in flashbacks in a handful of episodes, Aimee-Leigh is a crucial part of this series. She’s the recently-deceased wife of Eli and continues to be the cornerstone of the Gemstone family. In fact, if it wasn’t for her and her brother Baby Billy Freeman’s passion for publicly praising the Lord from a young age, there might not be a Gemstones empire today. Jennifer Nettles is known for her work as a songwriter and country singer as both a solo act and as part of the group Sugarland with Kristan Hall and Kristian Bush. She recently played the lead role of Jenna in Waitress in a limited engagement on Broadway and has also played Roxie Hart in Chicago. Her fourth solo album, Always Like New, was released on June 25.
Skyler Gisondo (Gideon Gemstone)
Gideon is Jesse and Amber’s oldest son. Against his family’s wishes, Gideon moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a stunt performer and escape from his chaotic family. At the start of the series, it’s clear that he’s been absent from his family’s lives for quite some time, and his parents do their best to not talk about him with the other children. (Ironically, it’s Jesse’s gross behavior that prompted Gideon to cut ties with his family in the first place.) Out in LA, he gets mixed up with Scotty (Scott MacArthur), a fellow stuntman-turned-low-level criminal who has it out for the Gemstones. Skyler Gisondo is one of the busiest young actors working today. He got his big break playing Bill Engvall’s son on The Bill Engvall Show with Jennifer Lawrence and has since starred in Psych, The Amazing Spider-Man franchise, and Santa Clarita Diet. He recently starred as the hateable-yet-lovable Jared in Booksmart and can currently be seen in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza.
BJ Barnes (Tim Baltz)
Oh, BJ, you poor innocent thing. BJ is Judy’s meek and insecure fiance. He loves Judy dearly and is frustrated that she’s not given opportunities to shine in the family’s televangelist business. The glaring problem, however, is that BJ is pretty terrified of his soon-to-be in-laws. He gets a nose job in an attempt to fit in with the vain and self-centered family, though a dinner table argument that quickly becomes physical messes up his cosmetic surgery. He lives in constant fear of his partner’s unpredictable mood swings and alpha personality. Eli and the rest of the Gemstones correctly suspect that BJ is living with Judy pre-marriage, which leaves BJ in a constant state of panic. Actor Tim Baltz studied improv at The Second City in Chicago and has also appeared in Veep, Parks and Recreation, The Conners, Drunk History, and American Housewife.
Season 2 of The Righteous Gemstones premieres Sunday, January 9 on HBO and has already been renewed for Season 3.