Philip Glenister & Kate Lyn Sheil on all things OutcastThe devil has arrived in South Carolina, and we have the new hit series Outcast to thank for it. Philip Glenister & Kate Lyn Sheil talk about a preacher’s life, that healthy dose of exorcism and human weaknesses
The Red Bulletin met up with Outcast stars Philip Glenister (Reverend Anderson) and Kate Lyn Sheil (Allison Baker) to have a devilish chat about the brand new hit show 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: Can you talk about the relationship that your characters share with Kyle, played by Patrick Fugit?
KATE LYN SHEIL: I play Allison Barnes, Patrick’s estranged wife. At the beginning of the series I am sort of reeling from some events that transpired several months before the beginning of the series. We have a pretty complicated relationship - a lot of love but a lot of pain as well.
PHILIP GLENISTER: That’s a bit like my relationship with Kyle. Early on I am sort of a father figure to him. As the series develops, the relationship develops and I am sort of the old school guard. It is a bit like in Rocky: I am Burgess Meredith and Patrick (Fugit) is Rocky. I come to kind of resent him at a certain point, because he seems to have this gift. I spent my entire life with religion and what comes along with it and suddenly this upstart comes along. But during the course of the series it comes to a stage where he needs me and I need him more than ever.
Kate, you play Kyle’s ex-wife Allison. We learn early on that at some point in the past you were possessed as well. How did you approach playing a character that has a demon in her?
KS: You try and ground it as much as you can in human terms. Things that you would understand. But then there obviously is something about it that is so outside of your experience. I wanted to see what other people on the show were doing so that there would be some underlying element of uniformity. But then I also thought it was very important for each character to have their own sort of taken individuality in their possession. It’s fun to do physical work like that.
How did you prepare for your roles
PG: The truth is, I didn’t. The writing is so good on this show and I always go with my instincts. If you have good writing you are sort of half way there. I just love the idea that this man - although being a man of the church and having a morality - also is very human. He likes gambling. He smokes. He likes to drink. He has all these human flavours, or if you like weaknesses.
What was the biggest challenge for you?
PG: I am pretty much a nonbeliever and find religion a rather threatening and dangerous thing, so it was a challenge for me to play a man who sees the need for religion as a force for good. While we were filming I saw this amazingly good looking young guy on one of the evangelical channels. He looked like a rock star with his ripped jeans, and he was sitting on the edge of the stage with his microphone and being kind of real. He said to his followers: “You could be Adam, you could be Eve.” I was completely caught. This was a great act and this guy was a good actor.
So you based your performance on him?
PG: I had to shoot this three page sermon that week and my inner light bulb went on. I thought: The reverend is a big fish in a small pond and he kind of revels in there. His flock is the old ladies. He flirts with them. So I wanted to be down amongst my flock, making eye contact, just seeing peoples reactions to me as the reverend. At the end of the scene I felt a tug on my leg from this old woman. I looked down and she looked up and said: “I’m converted.”
In Outcast you handle demonic possession like it can be solved.
PG: The reverend thinks it is within his power. Then Kyle comes in and they get to a point where they both need each other. Whether they want that, is a different question. They recognise that they can’t do this on their own. That’s what draws them together. That’s where their relationship becomes intriguing and complex, but very human as well.
Were you ever scared? Like in the first episode when that kid Gabriel punched you in the face. When you finished, would you go: “Actually this kid is terryfing. Get him away from me!”
PG: Joshua (Austin), who played Gabriel, was extraordinary. So smart. That’s what was scary. And he would play Patrick brilliantly. Put him around his little finger. They had an amazing relationship. We shot that scene over two and a half days and it was all storyboarded. No children were harmed! Gabriel had an amazing stunt double (Kelli Barksdale).
The kid didn’t get hit for real?
PG: No. Gabriel’s stunt girl was amazing. She doubles for a lot of children. You just stick a wig on her. My stunt double was called Duke by the way. Isn’t that the best, a stunt double called Duke? He looks like Daniel Craig. I said: “Duke, can you act? I might want an afternoon off for a game of golf. Duke will do it.” He made me look jolly athletic. (Laughs.)
Are you religious?
KS: I did grow up in a catholic household, but we were not particulary stringent about it. I am not practising any religion at the moment.
PG: Blimey, not at the moment? (Laughs.) No, I am not religious. I like to think that I have spirituality but I don’t think that needs to be god given. It’s not like somebody needs to tell me that. We were in Rome recently, and it was really interesting to see all the nuns and priests. I find that really quite fascinating.
What’s your take on demonic possession? Do you think it exists?
PG: I am kind of agnostic on that front. I’d rather say: ‘Of course it doesn’t. It’s all boll**ks.’ But who knows? It is a whacky, weird and wonderful world we live in.
KS: I am open to believe in anything. I do think there is a great deal of good and bad and all of those things in regular old human beings.
PG: I do think that we are lacking a kind of morality though in the world today. I think that has come about through large businesses, corporations and corruption. We are seeing it in all sorts of walks of life. And I think to get back on track we need to have some sort of moral guidance and leadership – whether that comes from the church or comes from politicians. I think it needs also to come from big businesses as well. Whether that’s possible or achievable, I don’t know.
THE FACTS: PHILIP GLENISTER
- Born: 10 February 1963 (age 53) in Harrow, Middlesex, England
- Spouse: Beth Goddard (m. 2006)
- Kids: 2
- Best know as: DCI Gene Hunt in Life on Mars
- Fun Fact: A fan of the rock band Genesis, he wrote sleeve notes to accompany the “Genesis - The Movie Box 1981-2007” DVD set, released in 2009. (Source Imdb)