The “Outcast” Speaks: Patrick Fugit on Kyle, Kids, Kirkman, and More

By | September 26th, 2018
Posted in Interviews | % Comments

The beauty of Outcast is that of its unlikely hero, Kyle Barnes. Kyle is a man still figuring out the mysteries of his past in demonic possession and a broken childhood when he’s thrust into the very unlikely role of savior of his hometown of Rome – – the same town that cast him out after his wife’s own possession was mistaken for domestic abuse. He’s also getting accustomed to a new role as father, not just returning to primary caretaker for his daughter Amber, but navigating the reality that Amber shares her father’s gifts. As we wrap up the second season of the television adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s series, I had the privilege of chatting with series star Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Saved!, Gone Girl) about the series and Kyle’s future.

(Please note this interview was conducted before episode 9, “This Is How It Starts,” aired in the United States. The second season finale, “To the Sea,” will air in the United States this Friday, September 28th.)

Tell us where Kyle is at as we go into the final two episodes this week and next.

Patrick Fugit

Patrick Fugit: Well, Kyle, when we met him at the beginning of the first season, was in a very self-centered place. Not necessarily in the negative way that is usually associated with being self-centered, but he was very focused on what was happening to him and what he could do or not do to make it better. And as these two seasons have gone on, season two we’ve seen him start to become involved in the broader scale of this conflict, this sort of war going on. And he’s sort of deciding how much he’s willing to commit.

[The] middle of the second season he basically tried to disengage again. Kyle seems to be a big fan of trying to just get the fuck out – – just grab his daughter and his wife and just get out. So that’s obviously not the solution. I think it’s like, a failure formula. And I hope he’s figured it out by now. But I think he’s getting to a point where he realized he’s going to have to be selfless to protect his family and to protect what he believes in and what he loves about the world – – which is Amber and Alison. He’s gonna have to be selfless.

Yes. He can’t just be his own island. And believe me, in episode seven when he decides he’s gonna go off the grid and take Alison and Amber with him, I was yelling at my TV. I think I gave you a couple of Questionable Parenting Awards, and it wasn’t the first time either!

PF: You know, that’s hilarious. Because I would constantly bring that up. I’d be like, “you know Kyle’s being a shit father right now.” Kyle had those behavior patterns as part of him, and they served him somewhat, and they served the plot somewhat. They were somewhat frustrating to me because I wanted, as somebody who cared about Kyle, to get on mission and really wise up. Like really be able to, on a larger scale, affect this world around him and stop making stupid mistakes.

Since we brought up Amber and the children of the show, I have a firm belief, both this season and last, that the kids are smarter than the adults. And you see that a lot with Amber. How do you think she’s come into her own over these two seasons, especially now that she’s realized she has the same gift with the paranormal and the supernatural that her father has?

PF: Yeah I mean, one of the things that was great about the character Amber was the little girl who plays her, Maddie McGraw.

She is a talent.

PF: Oh she is. And actually I’m gonna go watch her play soccer in the morning. I keep up with her family and she has a huge family of like a million kids or whatever. There’s actually only four. But they feel like a million kids like when you’re around them. It’s terrifying. But she is a very intuitive young actress. And when we first met, we were kind of thrown into our first scene together and it was a little bit awkward, for both of us I think. At least it was for me. I’m not a father. And so I was like, “okay, how fatherly is Kyle with Amber? How fatherly can I be with this young actress?” I don’t want to make her uncomfortable. I don’t want it to look weird and do something that parents who are watching would be like, “What is this guy doing? Parents don’t do that!”

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And so, I made a point of starting to hang out with her while she was on set during season one and then it turns out we get along really really well. And we have so much fun and that was able to sort of create a bond that came across on screen and a comfort [level] that allowed us both to be a little more relaxed around each other. And we were able to start really getting into some cool stuff where Amber, like you’re saying, would express this sort of intuition in these scenes where Kyle’s comforting her sometimes, but it also is like, Amber is equally as assuring a force in his life as he is in hers. It’s almost like this awesome need they have for each other.

And what I really like about it is it makes us care about what Kyle wants. Because that’s obviously what Kyle wants – – to live in that world with her and Alison. And so, I really want, as an audience member, to want that for Kyle. And Mattie was so good and we had so much fun that they started writing more stuff for Amber to be involved in. And that really created one of my favorite elements of the show: the way that Amber sees the world. She can tell when her dad’s lying intuitively. She can tell when something is going wrong or when somebody is bad, and she can tell when somebody is good. And she also wants to be a warrior in this fight – – she wants to stand on the front lines with her dad and protect her dad the way that he tries to protect her. And I love that. I would have loved to see more of it. I always joke that I wanted to see Kyle tossing Amber like an exorcism projectile into a group of possessed people the way that like Beast throws Wolverine on the Iron Giants in “X-Men” and stuff like that. But actually, I really would like to see Amber allowed by her parents to step up and really contribute.

It impresses me that she is so young. When I first started watching the show, I was like, she’s probably about eight, nine, ten years old. And then as I’m doing a little prep for this interview, I discover her age in the show is around six. So she is definitely a child that is wise beyond her years. And really can say so much in so little. The line that sticks with me is when she revealed that Kyle was alive, that he wasn’t dead on the operating table. And she just simply said, “Fireflies can see other fireflies.” And I think that’s when I was completely blown away.

PF: [W]hen we started filming she was six years old. I think she’s nine now. But yes, she has that ability to sort of be still, as Amber. Like she’s a ham. Like this little girl has so much energy. When I was around her, it was like weight lifting like, there was never a time when she was not going to start trust falling around me. So I always had to keep my eye on her and it was always like, going to dig up snails or going to look at the scary haunted house that Kyle grew up in, or tag or jumping off of stuff or jumping up stuff. It was like, crazy high energy.

But she understands how to sit in that Amber persona very sort of quietly. And Amber seems very tight and reserved. She’s been through a lot obviously. Which comes across in that performance, that portrayal. But yeah, man, I love that stuff. When Amber just knows, it’s like, everybody’s freaking the fuck out. But Amber knows what’s up.

Obviously the reason we recap the show at Multiversity is it’s based on a comic series by some little known independent guy named Robert Kirkman. I think you may have heard of him. 

PF: If he keeps with it he’ll make it big.

I think so. Were you familiar with the original comic series that I understand just ended in June before you took this role?

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PF: I had not been aware of it. So I hadn’t been into comic books .  .  . like when I was a kid I got really into Spider-man. And that was, but it was so long ago that like, if I re-read all the Spider-man comics now, I would be totally, there would be no spoilers. But yeah, when I heard the show was a comic, my agents told me, “we’ve already bought you all [of] the whole series that’s out so far.” I think it was five issues at that point when I did the audition. So I went and picked it up and read through it and familiarized myself with it.

[T]he great thing about comics is that they have a very limited space to story tell what is is they want to get across. So, any frame in a comic takes hours of work. And any frame in a comic means something – – so it’s all storytelling. What’s great about comics I think is that you can’t really waste any frames because it’s like pages and illustrator hours, and so it’s like everything means something. So it was very interesting to see what it was about Kyle’s form language. It actually helped more than I thought it would. Kind of tuning into that tone that they wanted to look for.

There is another comic connection to Outcast – – the late Reg E. Cathey. And it was actually his name was the first that caught my eye when I was looking at the cast list. I know everybody knows Brent Spiner because he was Data on Star Trek: the Next Generation, but I knew Reg E. Cathey first from Netflix’s Luke Cage. Any particular memories you have of working with him since this was one of his last roles?

PF: I loved working with Reggie. I could spend hours talking about the memories. That’s what Reggie was on set. Some actors come on and they’re just sort of there to check the box. We didn’t really have anybody like that on Outcast. We had some fantastic actors that I had so much fun working with. But they all have different focuses. And Reggie’s was always lineage. Always legacy.

So it was like, Reggie would kind of float on set and he would both be creating these memories for everybody but also recounting memories he brings with himself. So, we got stories about him coming up, doing plays, doing theater and things going wrong on stage – – or what he learned about acting, doing certain parts and things like that. So I always talk about Reggie like he would be the campfire on set. Reggie’d be like this campfire on set and it’s like, you should go sit next to the campfire because you’re gonna get warm. And you basically get to hear him tell these stories and I would learn something every time. I’d learn something about life, about myself.

He was like this sage that would just wander on set. He was this artist sage. he would be either playing saxophone outside his trailer and he’d be practicing and he loved it, but it was also like a piper’s call. It was like, “hey guys, come hang out at my trailer, let’s play some music.” And so he would always be doing that. You could always hear his booming voice everywhere, and his bone shattering laugh. And he was usually singing. He had this very grading, very deep voice, which allowed him to sing these really haunting renditions of … what’s that song from O Brother Where Art Thou? “The Lonesome Valley?”

Oh yes.

PF: Yeah. “You’ve got to go…” he and I would sing that and he would sing “Old Man River.” I have these old recordings of him singing every now and then on set. And it was just like that all the time. He’d get on set, he’d start laughing, he’d start telling stories and you just sit there and he’d be listening and then it’s like, we’d have to go work and he’d be like, “no dang it!” We were like halfway through the story, but then you get to continue it an hour later.

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I believe he might have been a bit sick while we were filming season two. There were a couple times where I was like, R”eggie doesn’t seem totally well.” And so he would get to an exhaustion point where he’d be like, “Alright, what else we got to do? Isn’t this enough?” We had this joke like, you guys should just go check the rushes, which means look back at the footage. It’s an old Hollywood saying, or maybe an old British saying. So he would start saying that.

And then he’d joke with me, he had these pot gummy bears. I don’t want to implicate him in anything too crazy, but he would bring these medicinal candies with him to South Carolina. Whether he was getting a little bit tired or a little bit over it, he’d look at me and he’d be like, “Hey, brother, I think it’s time for some gummy bears. What do you think?” I don’t like the actual sensation of being high so I’d be like, “No, man, you eat all the gummy bears you want.”

He will be missed. He’s been one of my favorite things to watch in the show because I get to see him go from, there’s one scene where he was giving the Reverend a hard time and he went from anger to sadness to humor all in one beat, without stopping. I was blown away and realized what a talent we have lost.

PF: Absolutely.

Assuming the show has a third season – – and my fingers are crossed that it does happen – – what would you want to see the show explore? Whether it’s for Kyle, for Amber, for the town, for the reverend, what would you want to see happen in a third season?

PF: It’s kind of hard to say what I would like to see without spoiling the end of season two. But .  .  . I would like to see shit hitting the fan. Like, I really like the way that the show handles its slow reveal of the context of the world. It’s a slow burn. – – you’re watching Reverend deal with his own shit, Chief is sort of getting the lay of the land and figuring out, this stuff [that] is actually happening. Same with Kyle’s sister, and Kyle’s wife. It’s like, the reality of it is all hitting them. Kyle has known it’s the reality since he had to go into hiding.

But I would like for it to be apparent, almost like an apocalyptic setting. I would think that would be really cool. Where it’s like, it gets even bigger than you think it would have got and Kyle, Amber, Alison, you know, everybody. Everybody has to then fight for their lives. They gotta really start working together, really start figuring stuff out and playing the game. Because up until now, Kyle has sort of gotten into it, but like we were saying, he doesn’t make the best decisions. And he’s not the smartest guy, not the brightest bulb on the tree – – so it takes him awhile. He’s a slow learner. But I would like to see him start to become more street-wise about what’s going on and how to handle it.

Any non spoiler hints you want to drop about next week’s season finale?

PF: Things are gonna escalate. Kyle is almost to a place where he can believe in a cause and he can be selfless. And he can do what it takes to accomplish what he believes is good in this world, in this context. He’s almost got all the context he needs to just be good for what he sees as good anyway. And really be effective. What that will cost, what that means, and the nature of good and evil, is going to turn itself on its head for him. Like, he is almost to a point where he’s finding what he needs and when he sees the vision of what that is, it’s gonna be hard for him.

Well, I thank you so much for your time. I’m looking forward to tonight’s episode and the finale. And hopefully a third season so thanks again. I’m really excited to see what happens next.

PF: Well thank you. Thanks for being excited.

//TAGS | Outcast

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski is your Multiversity social media manager, a librarian by day and a comics geek...well, by day too (and by night). Kate's writing has also been featured at PanelxPanel, Women Write About Comics, and Geeks OUT. She spends her free time spending too much money on Funko POP figures and LEGO, playing with yarn, and rooting for the hapless New York Mets. Follow her on Twitter at @librarian_kate.


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