Robert Kirkman’s twisted and twisting exorcist series, Outcast, burst from its humble comic book beginnings to the small screen last year. In preparation for the much-awaited second series, we were lucky enough to sit down with star Philip Glenister to talk exorcisms, evangelists and Englishisms…
Tell us about season two of Outcast…
What can I tell you? Well, obviously we set off where season one ends. I suppose the biggest arc that I can tell you is the fact that what we as the characters and the audience perceive as being this virus, this threat that’s spreading, turns out to be much, much, much bigger and more dangerous thing than any of us thought possible. That’s the biggest arc in season two. Season one was quite a slow burner in order for the audience to get acquainted with the characters, so the bar is raised pretty high now in season two.
The other things I would say is that Sidney, Brent Spiner’s character, is not necessarily the sum of his parts and is certainly not working alone. So he’s not just this sort of slightly strange figure, there’s some sort of thing going on there. What else can I tell you? I suppose, really, the crux of it is that we realise now is that anybody and everybody could be possessed, which creates a state of paranoia and fear and distrust amongst the townsfolk, which has repercussions to all the characters.
In season one we learned demons are attracted to Kyle Barnes. Should Reverend Anderson be afraid?
Anyone could be possessed! There is that fear, you know, and nobody knows who IS possessed, which causes this emotional ripple that goes through the town. Is this confined to the city of Rome or is this bigger? This could be on a global scale, even! That’s a question as well – how big and how far does this whole thing extend? But in a funny sort of way the roles are reversed in season two. Before, in season one, Kyle was wanting to wash his hands and not have anything to do with it; it was about the Reverend trying to get him on side. This time it’s the other way around. Kyle has realised he has to take this on, he has to take this fight to the fight, and he needs the Reverend on side. And I suppose from the Reverend’s point of view – or people’s point of view of the Reverend, they thought he was losing it and going crazy and he was just mad – people actually begin to see him in a different light. “Maybe he had a point! Maybe he wasn’t so crazy after all!”
All the characters have such extraordinary emotional journeys; certainly from my point of view. He hits rock bottom, he begins to question everything that he believed in to the point where he’s prepared to think he’s been kidding himself all along: “This is all bullshit.” And he has nothing in his life; he’s given it all up, his family, his son, for the calling. So when we come to see him towards the beginning of season two, he’s living in his car, he’s got nowhere to live. The church have booted him out! So he’s a bit of a lost soul, really. The only way for him to go is up. Either that or hit the bottle.
Is the car still smelly? I heard you say in an interview that it was disgusting…
There’s two cars. One of them just never works for some reason. Because we’re filming in August, it’s just so hot – the humidity over there. When you’ve got two cameras with lights stuck on the side, and wearing a coat and Patrick’s in his hoodie, and it’s like 103 degrees and 98 humidity… who said showbiz was glamorous? Dripping with sweat and having to do two and a half pages of dialogue on this low loader! It gets pretty smelly and nasty in there.
Did you have a design for cracking the States? Did you just think “This is a great show, it just so happens to be over there”?
I didn’t even know it was a great show, really, you never know until it airs. It was never in the scheme of things, really. I suppose I got to an age where, if I’m honest, I thought, if was gonna do it, I would have done it maybe 10 to 15 years ago. If you go to Los Angeles or Hollywood, those young leading men, which I’m not part of anymore, they’re two a penny, there’s so many of them – they’re all ripped and they go to the gym and drink fucking peppermint tea… boring! And so thank goodness that’s not me. [Laughs] So it’s nice that you can go in as a character actor and feel you’re not threatened with too much competition in that respect. There’s not that many of them. Not in Los Angeles, anyway. So yeah, it’s one of those sort of chance things that happened. My wife said, “You should give this a go, because if it doesn’t come to anything, come home! You have a career here, carry on. But if it works, great.” I have no intention of moving to the States, or anything like that; I don’t think that would be advisable for me. My home is here. And also so little gets shot in LA now. In Atlanta, Georgia, where they shoot The Walking Dead, I think Pinewood are building a huge studio complex there because there’s so much going down there. So ideally it would be nice to split my time between the two. We’ll see – we may not get picked up for a third season! You never know with TV shows, it can be quite brutal.
What was it about the States that appealed?
It’s pretty much, wherever you go in the world to film, a movie set or a TV set, the global thing. You have the grip who does his job or her job; you have a DoP, a camera operator – everybody has their role. It’s the same everywhere that you go. The difference is that the hours are much longer in America. Certainly working on a show like this, we do many, many night shoots, because according to the powers that be, demons only come out at night. Reg E Cathay, who plays Chief Giles, has a theory that they actually don’t start until 10AM, take two hours for lunch and then finish by four, which I happen to agree with! But we haven’t managed to convince the writers. So I think that’s one of the differences. But it’s quite fun being the only Brit in the cast and on the set. We have a bit of ribbing with each other – certainly when the whole Brexit thing happened! Brexit was June and we started in July, and I got there and they were all, “Brexit, man, what’s going on, dude? What happened to you guys, huh?” I was like, “Don’t blame me!” So of course on November 9, old Donny boy got in! I was like, “So, America! Fucking hell! Welcome to your fucking Brexit!” [Laughs]
Do you think Donald Trump is possessed by demons? If not, do you think it would be an improvement?
I think Donald Trump is just very, very self-possessed. I don’t think he’s possessed by demons, he’s just completely self-absorbed and self-obsessed!
A big part of the show is that the characters are haunted by their pasts – will this continue? Will we see more about Reverend Anderson’s past?
We’ve sort of touched on that. I don’t think there’s as many flashbacks this season. We’ve sort of channelled that now, it’s really about upping the level and the gearstick, if you like, really getting on with the story. And through that, the emotional fallouts in the characters themselves. There’s not as many scenes, for instance, with Patrick. I have a few nice scenes with Megan, because obviously Megan had no time for the Reverend – she thought he was just a complete phoney and fake. But then something happens within this season and she reassesses the Reverend a little bit. I had some nice scenes with her. That was fun. A few different sides to people.
Can you tell us about new characters?
Doctor Park is one of them, played by Hoon Lee from Banshee. I can’t really say much about him, I’ve been sworn to secrecy! But he’s a very interesting, quite divisive character, on the whole. We have what’s his name… Bob The Builder… no, not Bob The Builder, I keep calling him that, he runs a junkyard… Junkyard Bob, he’s called! He’s a fine comic character, he’d make a fine cartoon. And an actor called MC Gainey plays him, he’s great and good fun. Kept asking me for Michael Caine stories! And Madelyn Deutch plays a new character who has a separate church, one of these ones in the woods, a converted barn. It’s one of those hippy dippy churches, a bit odd, a bit freaky. I get drawn into all that as I’m looking for something after being booted out of my own church. I’m trying to get a job, basically! So there’s something interesting going on there, which all comes full circle, as well, it’s all part of the big story.
Your character now has seen the power Kyle and Amber have. How will that affect his role, moving forward?
Well, that’s a very good question and I’m not sure I can answer that! Because Amber has the power that her father has, it’s not so much a threat to Anderson, it’s more of a threat for Kyle, because his daughter now becomes a player in terms of the enemy, they have something else to try and stop. So if anything it’s about Anderson and particularly Chief Giles all coming together to work for the greater good. They can’t afford to be in the opposites. Their ways and means and methods of going about it are still conflicting, but the bottom line is they recognise now that the stakes are so high the only way they can sort this out is tby working as a team and trusting each other.
Is it true you converted an extra during the shoot?
I converted an extra? No, no, it was a joke! [Laughs] Can you imagine?? That would’ve been a laugh! What it was, in the first season in episode two I had a big sermon scene where I’m sort of terrifying the life out of my flock by saying “The Devil is comin’, he’s in our midst” and all this. I was talking to the director about how to shoot it and said it would be fun to use the aisles and to move around and get in people’s faces and get eye contact and things like that. So we did a big master shot, with a crane at the back of the church, and he said, “Move freely, we’ll just follow you.” I went up and down the aisle and all that, and we did it in one take for the master shot. And the people started clapping. This little lady just tugged on my jacket, and I looked down and she looked up and said, “Well, I’m converted!” The only other one we had was that a couple of people walked out on a couple of my sermons, on religious grounds. They were warned! But then some had to walk out anyway, as that was in the context of my speech, but the idea was that some would get up and walked up. And the director told me they’d walked out and never come back!
Did you get any inspiration from any wild-eyed US evangelists?
I did, I watched a bit of the Evangelical channel, which is really rather captivating. The older guys really kind of “fire and brimstone” it and you think, “Jesus, they’re gonna have a fucking heart attack!” “Give me your money and I’ll heal you!” People are buying this? It shows how easily people are brainwashed. But the one thing that really scared me – and I admired it, too – was this young guy that I watched who was very cool and very ripped and took the stage in this church, and was draped over the edge of the stage in this church in his ripped jeans and was just talkin’ about Jesus. “Yeah, Jesus, man!” He was very quiet, none of that fire and brimstone – he was very laid back and just, “So what did Jesus teach us, man?” “What the fuck, this guy is GOOD!” He was like a rockstar within this group, a big fish in a small pond. I talked to the director about it and he agreed, completely, that this is the Reverend’s stage, that aisle down the middle is when you see those huge concerts at Wembley or wherever and Take That or One Direction go out with that big walkway – that’s kind of his stage, his moment where he’s a rockstar for five minutes, scaring the shit out of his flock with the devils amongst us.
When Hugh Laurie did House he stayed in the American accent all day when he was filming – do you do that?
I stay in it, absolutely. It’s just much easier, really. It’s quite fun! Especially when you’re out in the mall. Or shopping centre, I should say! You know, just to stay in the accent and see if you can fool people. It was quite fun, one of our runners on the show… I took my golf clubs as I like to play a bit of golf, it keeps me sane, so on Sundays I’d have a golf day. This guy, Clint, would come and join me. He’s originally from New Orleans. So every time I made any British gesture or reference, he’d be like, “Man, what is that? What does that mean, man?” “It means fucked up. You say it here!” So you had all these moments like that. And then they’d ask me where I was from and I’d say London and they’d think I meant London, Ontario. “Why you got an American accent?” “Oh, fuck off, give me a break.” Occasionally I’d be very British with my Michael Caine accent on set if we did too many takes. “That’s it, you got it, look at it in the rushes.” And Reg E Cathay got hold of this and after every first take he’d say, “You got it, it’s in there, it’s in the rushes, haha!” And he goes off to do House Of Cards in Baltimore for a few days and came back and said, “I got them all saying it, man. Spacey’s sayin’ it. It’s in there, man, haha!” I’m spreading the word! Less takes and we’ll get home quicker!
Outcast is back for a second season starting 3rd April, only on FOX