Move over The Walking Dead, Outcast has arrived
Fans of The Walking Dead will no doubt recognise the name Robert Kirkman - after the runaway success of his comic book series The Walking Dead, it was no surprise that its television adaptation would gain such a cult following. And it looks like he’s set to do it again.
A prolific comic book writer with a real knack for horror, one of Kirkman’s latest projects, Outcast, was picked up for TV within a week of the first issue hitting shelves. But the wait is finally over and one of the most anticipated new shows of the year is set to land on June 7. And it looks amazing.
So what is Outcast and what sets Robert Kirkman’s work apart from the rest? We were lucky enough to catch up with the cast for a chat, and Patrick Fugit summed it up perfectly:
Joshua (Gabriel Bateman)
“With the zombie genre, there had been a lot of different films and perspectives that had come out about it. Then Robert Kirkman came out with this idea: it’s just a never-ending zombie apocalypse story about these characters, which was interesting because he’s basically taking a horror genre and then making it character-driven and then changing the way that we look at the zombies and the rules of that world. And I think he’s doing the same thing here with possession.
We’ve got possession genre films that we’ve seen, and we know the tropes; they feel pretty familiar when you watch more recent possession stories and compare them to The Exorcist and older possession films. What Robert (Kirkman) is good at is changing the rules and changing the perspective, and also playing off those familiar tropes to make it feel familiar before he changes what’s going to happen.
I know Robert has been concentrating a lot in terms of developing the story; he wanted to feel like these guys are trying to look at the bigger picture. He talks about The Exorcist – it’s all centred around that one exorcism, and then when the demon’s out of the girl, it’s sort of like “Oh, there we go, that’s the end of that!”.
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 happened before? What happens after? What happens to the person after?"
Set in a small town in Virginia, Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Gone Girl) plays Kyle Barnes, a man who has fallen apart after a lifetime of unknowingly losing his loved ones to demonic possession. But there’s something different about Kyle and, after some convincing from Reverend Anderson, the two of them set out on a mission to save humanity. Or at least themselves. Maybe.
Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) & Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister)"Kyle starts off in a sort of isolated dark space, and through the course of the season he starts to link up with the Reverend, although they have opposing views of what’s going on and opposing approaches which causes some tension. But I think Kyle is starting to figure out that he can actually have a say in what’s going on and control his destiny in a way, but there’s a lot of stuff to explore, questions to be answered.” Fugit explains.
The role of Reverend Anderson may be Philip Glenister’s (Life on Mars, Mad Dogs) first foray into American television, but the popular British actor has been perfectly cast. Whilst watching TV Evangelists for inspiration, his epiphany came just days before filming his first big sermon scene.
“There was this young guy and he’s like a rock star, he’s like a member of One Direction. He’s got ripped jeans and he’s got the microphone and he’s kind of on the edge of the stage and it clicked – he’s like the rock star!”
And you have to hand it to him, when it came to delivering his big on-screen sermon he nailed it… even without the ripped jeans.
But as Glenister reveals, Reverend Anderson is no simple preacher. “What’s fascinating for me is the complexity of the man. He’s a broken man inside in many respects, calls himself a ‘Soldier of God’, but at the expense of having an estranged wife and son who he’s passed over for this cause.
As we see during the course of the series, when Kyle comes back into his life with this touch that he’s been working on all his life, he’s like the new kid on the block taking over from the old guard, and there’s kind of a resentment and an envy and a jealousy that spills out that says a lot more about the Reverends place.
But during the course of the series we see that the two of them need each other - as much as the Reverend needs Kyle, Kyle needs the Reverend, so they have to come together for this common cause. And it begins to spark something back in the Reverend, it gives him a purpose again, that’s what I think he gets from Kyle.
They give each other a kind of purpose which is what they were both lacking, and that’s what brings them together and that’s what they have in common in the first place. Two quite broken, dark spirits in a bad place.”
Robert Kirkman joins the cast & crew of Outcast on set while filming the first episode
Patrick Fugit and Phillip Glenister are joined by a great cast including Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire), Reg E. Cathey (Se7en, The Wire, Oz) and Kate Lyn Sheil (House of Cards), all of whom were won over by the strength of the script and their faith in Robert Kirkman’s vision.
As Wrenn Schmidt told us, “I got to meet Robert (Kirkman) without knowing who Robert was, and just talking to him about the world and the character is really interesting because he’s very laid back, but he has very clear opinions.”
Reg E Cathey was a little more to the point: “He’s so smart without being a douchebag.”
And that’s always a very good sign.
Outcast is destined to be the next big thing for fans of terrifying television, but I do have one warning, and I will only say this once: Do not watch the first episode whilst eating. Seriously. Just don’t.
Outcast airs Tuesdays at 10pm on FOX.
You can stream each episode as they air on Live TV and Catch Up on demand with an Entertainment Month Pass.
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