Interview: the cast of Outcast 'no ten-year-olds were harmed in the making of this production'
Philip Glenister, Patrick Fugit, Wrenn Schmidt and Reg E Cathey discuss the supernatural drama from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman
Following the phenomenal success of The Walking Dead, creator Robert Kirkman turns his attentions from zombies to possession with his latest project Outcast. Adapted from the Skybound / Image comic by Kirkman and artist Paul Azaceta, the show stars Almost Famous' Patrick Fugit as Kyle Barnes, a young man whose family history has been plagued with demonic possession. Philip Glenister plays country preacher Reverend Anderson, who seeks Kyle's help in a local possession case involving a young boy (Gabriel Bateman). Together, the pair attempt to discover Kyle's connection to the supernatural, but what they find has terrifying, far-reaching consequences.
We caught up with stars Philip Glenister, Patrick Fugit, Wrenn Schmidt (who plays Kyle's kindly adoptive sister Megan), Reg E Cathey (the local police chief) and Kate Lyn Sheil (Kyle's estranged wife) to discuss the show.
What makes Outcast different from other shows on TV?
Patrick Fugit: I think, like with the zombie genre, there had been a lot of different films and perspectives that come out and then Robert Kirkman came out with The Walking Dead and this idea that it's a never ending zombie apocalypse story about these characters. He's taking a horror genre and making it character-driven and then changing the way that we look at zombies and the rules of that world and I think he's doing the same thing here with the possession genre.
What Robert's good at is changing the rules and changing the perspective and also playing off those familiar possession movie tropes to make it feel familiar before he changes what's going to happen. He wants it to feel like these guys are trying to look at the bigger picture. Like The Exorcist is all centred around that one exorcism and then when the demon is out of the girl it's like, 'Ah, there we go, that's the end of that' and I think with Outcast he wants it to be like, 'Well what happens to the next person and how do we stop it from continuing? What happens to the person afterwards?' and that sort of thing.
Philip, your American accent is very impressive. How did you work on that?
Philip Glenister: Thank you! It's not my first, but it's a lot easier staying in an American accent when you're surrounded by Americans than when you're playing an American in the middle of fucking Bermondsey, surrounded by southeast Londoners going [adopts accent], 'Awight Phil, how ya doin', geezer?' We all had to sound pretty similar, so we had a great dialect coach who came down and basically just went through the scripts with all of us so we all sounded like we were from vaguely the same town. And I just stayed in the accent when I was out there and it was kind of fun. Obviously when my family were there I didn't stay in it, but I got the kids to do it in the supermarket once!
Your first exorcism in episode one of Outcast is pretty brutal. How do you go about punching a child in the face on camera?
Patrick Fugit: Logistically, it's tough, because if I really punch him, we get in trouble. Little Gabriel, who plays Joshua was an animal, an absolute terror.
Philip Glenister: Ran fucking rings round us, didn't he?
Patrick Fugit: We shot that sequence over two days, it was really physical, all the levitation stuff was like different kinds of rigs where we had to be getting in and out of harnesses and stuff like that and he was a pro, he committed 100% every take. We had a stunt performer who was a woman and was kind of around the same height as him, so a lot of the really physical stuff is either her and myself or my stunt double and her, but that's obviously like a crazy thing to do, to beat up a ten-year-old.
Philip Glenister: The point is, no ten-year-olds were harmed in the making of this production! But he had this maturity and this instinctive way of [acting] – we were all totally blown away, we were all like, we have to up our game because of this little fucker!
Did you read the comics as preparation?
Kate Lyn Sheil: I read the comics for the first time when I was on set shooting the pilot and it was an incredible gift to suddenly have, in addition to the script, so much more information about the world that you're existing in and the tone and some of the physicality of the character. They're really wonderful, but then as the show went on I think we all sort of felt that after we would shoot an episode we would take a look at the source material, because we didn't want to be influenced too much by it.
Because it's a Robert Kirkman show, did you worry that your character could be killed off at any moment?
Wrenn Schmidt: I think you could be worried about that on any television show. I feel like the moment they make your character happy, then you're like, 'Oh god! It's coming!'
Reg E Cathey: You know, Oz started that. I was on Oz and only four people were under contract. Quick story; a guy was late one day and [showrunner] Tom Fontana was like, 'You're late. Don't be late again' and the guy was all like, 'Yeah, Tom, yeah.' Guy was late again, Tom didn't say a word. In the next episode, that man was raped to death [laughs]. And that let everybody know, don't be late, because anyone can die at any time. But you know, nobody was late, there were no divas, nobody would refuse to come out of their trailer, nobody asked for red M&Ms. So I don't mind that you could die at any time. I mean, I say that now …
Did anything creepy happen while you were shooting?
Patrick Fugit: We had some people put up signs on their garages saying, 'Outcast is going to bring the devil to Chester [in South Carolina]'.
Philip Glenister: They also had signs saying 'Vote Trump', which was a bit of a clue.
Outcast airs on FOX UK on Tue 7 Jun, 10pm.