Based on the Skybound/Image comic title by creator Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead) and artist Paul Azaceta, the 10-episode Cinemax drama series Outcast follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a young man who has been plagued by demonic possession all his life, and who is searching for answers and redemption. Now, with the help of Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), a preacher who has personal demons of his own, Kyle embarks on a journey to regain the normal life that he lost, but quickly realizes that there are things much more sinister at work than he ever could have imagined.
While at Comic-Con to chat with fans about the show’s first season and what’s to come, co-stars Patrick Fugit and Philip Glenister sat down with Collider for this exclusive interview about what attracted them to Outcast, why this show can be exhausting to make, the evolving dynamic between Kyle and the Reverend, when we’ll start to get answers, the role Sidney (Brent Spiner) plays in what’s happening, already shooting Season 2, and getting to have a bit more fun with their characters, now that they know them a little better.
Collider: Was part of the appeal of this the fact that it’s so much more psychological and character-based than just straight horror?
PATRICK FUGIT: Yeah, I was not initially interested in the possession genre when I got the material for the project. It was the scenes and how well they were written. The character that came out during those scenes and trying to bring Kyle to life, and then doing those scenes with Phil and watching the Reverend come to life, was definitely my favorite part.
PHILIP GLENISTER: I agree. It would have been a pretty average, boring show, if it just had horror and no substance behind it. The bottom line is that it’s very character driven. It’s not so much the fear factor, but the unsettling, disturbing element to it, which makes it all the more scary, in many respects. Certainly, I have friends back in England who have been watching it and are completely hooked. They wouldn’t normally watch a horror show, but they’re enjoying it because it’s got a story, it’s got an arc, and it’s got interesting characters.
What’s it like to work with and collaborate with Robert Kirkman, who has such a clear vision for this show and knows what’s going to happen with these characters, all the way through to the end?
FUGIT: I think he’s learned a lot, over the years of working on The Walking Dead and writing the comic, and seeing how the two of them parallel or split. Now, he’s started from the ground floor with both this show and the comic, and he’s got an awesome lore that he’s put together for it and we have awesome writers. It’s very fun.
GLENISTER: We’ve got an incredible crew, as well, who are really on it. We’re getting the bunch back for Season 2, which is nice. It’s nice to have familiar faces who are familiar with the show, as well.
How does it feel to go back to these characters for Season 2, now that you have a better idea of who they are?
GLENISTER: What’s nice for us is that we know the characters now that we’re playing. Maybe we can have a bit more fun with them and try some things out, now that we’re more comfortable in their skins, in many respects, and the audience has seen it and had a nice reaction.
For Season 2, are you learning things about your character that you never would have expected with Season 1?
FUGIT: Yes. Some cool stuff pops up, in the first few episodes of Season 2, but we can’t say anything about it.
GLENISTER: We’ve been given the first three scripts.
Is this an exhausting show to do, physically and emotionally?
GLENISTER: It is, yeah.
FUGIT: We shoot a really tight schedule, and it’s five and a half months long. We’ve got this marathon, but we shoot it at a sprint pace, so it’s pretty tiring.
GLENISTER: Also, we do a lot of night shoots, as well. The week starts normally, and then, by the time we get to Friday, which we’ve renamed Fraturday, we shoot until 3 or 4 in the morning.
FUGIT: And that’s a nice wrap time. Usually, it’s 4:30 or 5, and we can’t shoot anymore because the sun is coming up.
GLENISTER: We will the sun to come up earlier. It’s like having permanent jet lag, every weekend, and then you do it all again.
FUGIT: It can be tiring, but it’s a great atmosphere and it’s awesome material. Any job security is nice, in our line of work.
GLENISTER: We’re also lucky that we’re a cable show, and not a network show. You can be in the middle of filming for a network, and I’ve heard that somebody will turn up and say, “Okay, it’s over. That’s the end of the season.” And you’re like, “I just learned a four-page monologue, you bastards!”
Kyle and the Reverend started working together, but then a lot of tension arose between them, as the Reverend became resentful of Kyle’s gift. How can they move forward?
FUGIT: We’ve established that we have a similar end goal, which is to stop these things, but our methods are very different and our belief systems are different. The places we’re both willing to go to, morally, are different.
GLENISTER: It’s about them having to reach a compromise, in order to move forward. At this stage, there’s still that barrier to cross. The Reverend is losing his mind and losing the will of the people. He’s gone from being the man that people looked up to in the town to losing that support. Really, the only two people he can turn to are Kyle and Chief Giles. They’re the only two that actually still believe in him, so he needs to hang onto that.
FUGIT: They have yet to see how well it can work, if they put their minds together.
Has Kyle come to terms with everything that’s happened and everything that is still happening?
FUGIT: I don’t think so. I think he’s still on his way. He’s beginning to accept some things. The fact that he has this ability to exorcise these demons is something that he’s coming to terms with. I think he’s starting to see it more as a tool now. He’s starting to see things that he can do that are a means to an end, but he still has a lot of resolution to cover, especially with his family. He thinks he’s protecting them, but that’s going to blow up in his face. He’s still got a lot of that to come to terms with. I think he’s come to terms with this power, and I think he’s come to terms with the fact that he and the Reverend are going to need each other. The question is, are they able to realize that and work together.
As Allison realizes what really happened, will that make things even more difficult?
FUGIT: We will see. The reason Kyle has been hiding it from her is ‘cause he believes that, as strong a person as Allison is, that’s going to deconstruct her. It will destroy her, if she understands what happened that day. It will be the end of any ability to reconcile. That’s what he believes. Hopefully, that’s not the case with her. Hopefully, he’s wrong about that. We’ll find out.
Does Kyle feel like he’s in a place where he could rebuild his life with his family, or does he feel like he still has a ways to go?
FUGIT: I think he feels that way, but Kyle is prone to making very emotional decisions and doesn’t tend to think things through, very much. He’s gotta adjust that and make some more logical decisions.
GLENISTER: I think they all have. The Reverend has to, as well.
FUGIT: But, learning that he’s not ready for that kind of a set-up is part of the rest of the season. All of the characters make some decisions that they’re probably not happy with, and there are some heavy consequences that come along with that.
Will we get answers to things like why Kyle has this ability, why this is happening in this town, and why it’s affecting these people?
FUGIT: Some of it gets answered. You get some answers in the last episodes of the season. What happens is that things get uncovered, and then, due to circumstance, the dominoes start to crash and fall, throughout the rest of the season. It’s really the beginning of their evolution, as characters and as teams – the good and the bad, the light and the dark – and what that means for everybody involved. So, you do get answers, but it also sets it up so that the next season gets to answer more of the questions than the last bit of the first season.
What can you say about how Sidney will play into things, in the rest of this season?
FUGIT: Episode 8 is a great episode for learning about Sidney, and also learning some of the history of Rome and of these possessions. I don’t want to spoil too much, but it also starts to shift the perspective of Kyle, particularly, in terms of what these things are and if they are actually the good guys or the bad guys, and if Kyle and the Reverend are actually the good guys. There’s a shift in perspective that Sidney brings about, and he’s also the catalyst for all of this crazy shit happening. You find out that he’s much more organized and his roots go deeper into Rome than we thought they did.
As you found out more about the mythology of this world and where things are going, did your perception of your character change?
GLENISTER: I don’t know. It’s such a relentless process, filming it, that it was really just about getting through it, towards the end, and keeping your energy level going. There was some big, heavy emotional stuff, so we were in acting mode. It’s not until you’ve walked away from it, and then you start looking back at it, and you start watching it on TV, which I’ve done, that you see the shifts. I don’t tend to look too much into it. I just try to feel it and allow the writing and storytelling to govern what I do, rather than trying to remove myself from it. It’s just really good writing, so you want to stay within the parameters and see where the character goes, at certain points.
FUGIT: I think it is interesting, particularly what moral structures are formed and destroyed, throughout the second half of the season. We see Kyle becoming more solidified in his mission and in his perspective of this phenomenon, and in his moral landscape and what he’s comfortable with. The Reverend and Kyle have opposite paths. Kyle starts very unformed and downtrodden, at the beginning.
GLENISTER: There’s a role reversal, almost. While Kyle becomes more formed, the Reverend, who we think is formed, starts becoming more unformed again. Kyle starts believing this more, and the Reverend becomes the unbeliever.
FUGIT: The desperation causes the Reverend to make some crazy, awesome decisions that are fun to watch.
GLENISTER: And quite fun to play, as well.
Do you think it’s helped Kyle to have a mission to focus on?
FUGIT: Kyle had very little guidance when he was younger. We know, from the flashbacks with his mom, that his father wasn’t around. After that, he started going into foster care and he had a very unstructured childhood and development stage, through becoming a man. I think that he had times where he was given a mission. At one point, it was protecting Megan. At other times, it was being a husband and father, and having a family. And then, that was taken away from him. At the beginning of the first season, he’s not the type of person who has the mentality to be able to create self-missions. He can’t create purpose for himself. And so, having this come along is good for him. We can see that he doesn’t make the best decisions and sometimes he’s a little bit of a dipshit. So, it’s good that somebody is putting a mission in his lap.
Some of the best moments of this show have been the interactions that you guys have had with Grace Zabriskie. What was it like to shoot those scenes?
GLENISTER: They were scary.
FUGIT: She seems to be this sweet old lady, but she has a very specific facial structure that lends itself to surreal or bizarre storytelling and character discovery. She’s very nice and sweet. She was dressed as this sweet old lady and she had her hair curled, so when I met her, I was talking to her that way and saying, “Yes, ma’am.” I was being quiet and respectful, giving her space. And then, she started swearing like a sailor and was talking about growing up above a music and theater venue in New Orleans, where gypsies performed. She grew up with gypsies. She is a legit old school performer.
GLENISTER: It’s like she’s from a different decade, almost, like one of those old Hollywood movie stars, like Bette Davis or Joan Crawford.
FUGIT: She always makes interesting decisions while we’re doing the scenes. She’s so good at inhabiting that crazy, twitchy energy. She commands it.
GLENISTER: It’s fun to play opposite because it spooks you a little. She is fascinating.
Outcast airs on Friday nights on Cinemax.