The Walking Dead is one of the biggest shows on television. Derived from the much-loved graphic novels by Robert Kirkman about zombies and the last remaining humans on Earth, it has mad mega-stars of all the actors and firmly put zombies into the mainstream again. Hoping to repeat that winning formula with his next TV series, Kirkman has adapted his Outcast comic for the small screen. Set in the small US town of Rome, West Virginia, it follows Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit), a 30-something recluse whose life has been plagued by demons, first his mother then his wife. He comes into contact with Reverend Anderson (Philip Glenister), who believes he can help Barnes with his demons.
Screenjabber had the opportunity to attend a Q&A with the cast at MCM Comic-Con in London. The cast panel consisted of Fugit, Glenister, Wrenn Schmidt (Megan Holter), Reg E Cathey (Chief Giles) and Kate Lyn Sheil (Allison Baker).
What can you say about the show?
Patrick: One of the things I enjoy about The Walking Dead is it’s about characters and it’s about what happens to those characters in different moral situations and I think with Outcast there is a lot of horrific elements, but it is, at its heart, about these characters and the demons they have personally. Roberts’s done a great job.
Philip, tell us a bit about the Reverend
I play the Reverend Anderson; he is a big fish in a small pond. He’s a kind of troubled soul. He’s described as “the soldier of God” and he has a past history with Kyle. Through what happened with Kyle’s mother. So he is kind of like a father/mentor figure [for Kyle]. He gave up family life for the pursuit of the righteousness. Underneath that brash exterior, there is a man who is troubled, broken and lonely soul. That’s how I would describe him.
Patrick, tell us a bit about Kyle
When we meet Kyle he has isolated himself in a pretty dark state. He is staying in the house he grew up in. He has completely shunned himself from the rest of society. He surrounds himself with darkness because he believes he has something to do with these possessions that are happening around him.
Wren, tell us a little bit about Megan
I play Megan Walter, who is Kyle Barnes adoptive sister. She is a child psychologist in the local elementary school. She grew up in Rome, West Virginia and has lived there her whole life. She has married a police officer. At the beginning of the series Megan is very much the only person in the town who is in Kyle’s corner. Something quite catastrophic has happened in his life that doesn’t match up with who she knows him to be. She is kind of the only person on his side. She is smart. She has a great sense of humour. She makes a lot of poop jokes; she is very concerned with Kyle’s bowl movements. She goes on a really big journey on her own. There is quite a lot happening underneath that strong facade.
Reg, tell us a little bit about the Chief
The Chief is Chief of Police of Rome, West Virginia. When the darkness starts making itself evident in his town through his friend Reverend Anderson and through the juvenile delinquent [Kyle Barnes] he has had to deal with in the past, it changes his whole world view and he has to come to some decisions about what he has to do.
Kate Lyn, tell us about your character
I play Alison Barnes, the estranged wife of Kyle Barnes. At the beginning of the show we meet Alison who is trying to pull the pieces of her life together. They have a daughter together and the focal point of her life is taking care of her daughter.
What drew you all to the show?
Patrick: It was cast by Lorraine Mayfield out of Los Angeles, who is very supportive of me and usually does very interesting projects. That was my initial entry. I didn’t know a lot about Robert Kirkman, then I started reading the first episode and there is great character drama in there. The horrific elements are quite cerebral, which I appreciated. They are not jump scares; they are not really gory scares. They are a little unsettling. A bit disturbing. It seemed like exciting storytelling.
Reg: The chief isn’t in much of the pilot and he was a white guy. So what drew me into it was I talked to Robert and Chris Black and Adam Wingard. Robert Kirkman is like an intellectual bear. This giant guy who is really friendly, very smart. The best thing that he did was how he got all the writers together. The creative team day to day.
What sets Outcast apart from other TV shows?
Patrick: It’s a cool combination of storytelling themes to be a part of. You have possession, which is very genre. There is also characters that you grow to care about quite a bit and they are all facing their own personal demons. It’s an exciting combination
Philip: One of the cool things for me is in the writing and storytelling and we have an amazing mind in Robert Kirkman. I love the way it’s announced as “from the mind of Robert Kirkman” not the pen but the mind. I think the great thing is all the characters are incredibly nuanced. Everything is thought through. I think that’s very exciting. It means the writers, showrunners etc really care about the project.
Wrenn: I would echo everything that Philip and Patrick have said. I would also say what Outcast does in a lovely way is there are strong female characters that are not dependent on male storylines. They are definitely interwoven but it’s one of the first times I’ve felt like a character I’ve been playing has an agenda of her own. I love the fact that Kate and I play incredibly interesting and nuanced characters.
Reg: It’s about the character development. But it’s also really scary. You will be frightened. And it will interrupt your sleep. And you’ll dream of dark, dark things [laughs].
Kate Lyn: I’m very excited to be part of a show that is portraying nuanced female characters. To echo all my cast mates, I think the writing on the show is very impeccable and the horror elements feel very earned.
• Outcast airs on Fox in the US and the UK