Bringing the devil to South CarolinaOutcast’s Patrick Fugit on nightmares, demonic possession and battling his inner demons
Patrick Fugit is the main character in the new TV series Outcast from Robert Kirkman, the mastermind behind The Walking Dead. You’ll find no zombies in the Outcast universe, but you can expect a story as dark, intense and full of terror as any in the TWD world. Read on, if you dare.
THE RED BULLETIN: Is it true that people held up signs saying you were bringing the devil to South Carolina while were shooting the series there?
PATRICK FUGIT: (Laughs.) Well, the devil never showed up, so they never had any proof. Nobody ever came on set and told us that we couldn’t shoot somewhere or disapproved of it. Most People were more curious than anything. But yes, people had put up signs saying that our cast will bring the devil to South Carolina.
Was that scary for you?
Scary? A lot of people in the south have firearms, but nobody really bothered us.
Religion seems to be quite a difficult topic to handle in America.
True, but it is also America. So you’re pretty much free to say whatever you want to say. The show has several different perspectives on the beliefs of the reverend and the beliefs of Kyle and religion in general. It can be difficult, but it is something that I have always enjoyed exploring.
How difficult was the shoot? Especially the scene when you had to punch a kid?
Gabriel (Bateman) who plays the ten-year-old Joshua in the first episode was so committed to his performance, and so intensely in character while we were shooting the scenes. Everybody sees me hitting him, but really I was fighting for my life that day.
He was pulling my hair and scratching me. A lot of the scene is just me actually trying to contain his rage. He bit me really hard. It was planned, but you know, it is acting at the end of the day. I kept trying to tell him: “You don’t have to bite me as hard as you can!” But he has got some jaw muscles on him.
Do you believe in demonic possession?
I don’t myself. I have never seen anything or experienced anything that would suggest otherwise. I am somewhat spiritual. I grew up in a religious atmosphere in Salt Lake, Utah, which has a high population of The Church of Latter-day Saints members or Mormons. So I have been around that sort of stuff and chose to live without it.
Are their any personal demons that you have had to battle?
I have in the past. I think everybody has that. My best friend who I grew up with passed away very suddenly in 2012. It was unexpected, and I think it created a darkness, but also somewhat of a rebirth for me. It changed a lot of my perspective on the world and a lot of how I behave in the world.
In which way?
I think before that happened I would tend towards the darker side. I was interested in playing darker roles, experiencing more conflict. Afterwards - it didn’t happen right away obviously, because it was a very tragic time - but after a while, because of the person he was and the legacy he left behind, I was almost overwhelmingly and obnoxiously positive and I bright. I asked myself the question: “what is it you want to leave behind and in what condition will you leave the world? And I’d like to think that it is going to be in a very bright and positive way.
And this is one of those cheerful roles …
Well, Kyle Barnes is a dark character and there are dark things happening. But for me it is interesting to try to find the light in the character, and the things that I would enjoy watching in a character. So how can we go through this first episode with this man who has cast himself out, isolated, who is very dark and sad, and at the end of the episode beats up a kid? How do we still like him at the end of that? Hopefully my character accomplishes that and will continue to accomplish that down the line.
Is there a special relationship between your character Kyle Barnes and the reverend?
It is tense between us. The reverend and Kyle have different beliefs on how to handle what is going on, what it is, and how to solve it. We have some intense scenes where upsetting things happen. We don’t beat up a kid every episode if that’s what you’re thinking, but there are things that happen that will make you feel very uncomfortable. So there needs to be some light, something that gives you a break from all that darkness.
Have you read the Outcast comics?
Yes, when I went in to go for the audition, there were 5-6 issues out, and I got those issues to get an idea for the tone and the characters appearance. Robert tried to send them to me for free, but I was like: “I want to support this.” And it is fun. I didn’t grow up being a comic book kid. I was a video game kid, still am.
Which games are you playing now?
Now my girlfriend and I are playing The Division. I am playing The Witcher 3 still, because it takes forever. I just started the Hearts of Stone DLC and I love that. We also play a lot of Fallout 4. And we are always playing Borderlines.
Pretty dark stuff there, too.
Demonic possession is seen as something that can be solved in the show. How?
One of Robert’s key points is: With films like The Excorcist, it’s like: “Okay, we have this person that has a demon in him, so we need to get the demon out and then that is the end of the movie.” Robert’s perspective on this is like: “What is causing that to happen? How many people are afflicted? And what do we do about that?” The reverend’s point of view is: “We just have to find them and get rid of the demons.” Kyle on the other hand wants to know where they come from, why they chose the people they chose, because obviously they have chosen people very close to him. And if he can figure out that pattern maybe he can stop it.
Do you have to be religious to get possessed by a demon?
That is a question that the show asks. I mean there is a point of tension between the reverend and Kyle because the reverend talks about being holy and being a sinner and that sort of thing. And Kyle asks the questions: What did my mother ever do? She went to church, she did all the things right. And Joshua, he is a 10-year-old boy, what could he have possibly done to deserve that? So how do they choose them and is it about religion? It is an interesting question that the series continues to ask throughout the first season.
Why should people watch Outcast?
Well, if you enjoy genre specific storytelling, it is definitely that. It is disturbing and scary, but it is also more about characters then ever in terms of Robert (Kirkman’s) writing - definitely more than in The Walking Dead. It is not just a drama, it is not a period piece, it is this horrific and supernatural topic.
Did you have any nightmares or strange dreams while shooting the series?
The only nightmares that I have would be that I have forgotten my lines. I have a recurring nightmare where I have been cast suddenly to play Spider-Man. Because when I was a kid I liked Superman, I liked Batman, I liked Zorro and He-Man, but Spider-Man was like the sh*t. When they were casting Spider-Man, I was about the right age and I wanted this part so badly. I didn’t get it, obviously, but as the years went on and I would have these dreams, that they would grab me and be like: “You are playing Spider-Man. We need you on set right now. Tobey Maguire is sick.”
Then what happened?
I go, but because I am taller than Tobey Maguire the suit didn’t fit me. And then they would hand me the script for the day and the words will always be changing and Kirsten Dunst would never say the same lines in two different takes. And I was like: “What is she doing? She is screwing me up!” Yes, those were the nightmares that I had.
What was your scariest moment on set?
(Laughs.) I have to filter through all these things that I can’t say. In the house that we shot – it is a real house, Kyle Barnes house is real. I was exploring and there was an attic that I hadn’t found somehow while we were shooting. I didn’t know this attic was here. The lanyard was dangling down from the door and I pulled it open and the ladder popped out so I climbed up. The attic was pretty much empty but for a chair that was sitting there, looking at the ladder. It was an empty chair, and I have a thing about empty chairs. I am not superstitious really, and I don’t believe in ghosts, but I also won’t sleep in a room where there is an empty chair. It just freaks me out.
Don’t you have that problem in every hotel room?
If there is anything like a couch in my hotel room – anywhere that a ghost could sit – then I have to put something on it. I put my bag or some shoes on it, just to be safe. So I climbed up the staircase to the attic and I was completely alone. There was nothing in this room apart from this chair bolted to the floor. My first thought was, “why the f**k is this chair here in the first place, and why is it is bolted to the floor?” There were also all these dolls that had to be from the early 1900s. It was really creepy. The scariest thing was that nobody really new about it. It was not part of the show, it was part of the f**king house!