[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched the series debut of Outcast.]
Robert Kirkman’s latest comic-to-TV adaptation is officially upon us, and any question as to whether it would be as shocking as The Walking Dead were quickly answered with a brutally violent scene that saw Kyle Barnes (Patrick Fugit) exorcise a demon from the body of a young boy by brutally beating him up.
Like The Walking Dead — which began with Rick Grimes shooting a zombie girl in the face — Outcast showed that boundaries will definitely be pushed on the new Cinemax drama. We spoke to Kirkman and asked if he there were any concerns about going that far in the beating.
“To me, that’s the pinnacle moment of the episode,” says Kirkman. “That’s the scene that shows you that you’re going to be seeing things that you’re not accustomed to seeing. We’re going to be crossing lines that you think shouldn’t be crossed, but it is all in service of the story. I love that scene, in that if you’re watching that episode and we do our jobs right, you’re invested in that world, and you are aware that that is a demon inside that child, and that is a clear threat, a huge danger that Kyle is dealing with. And, to a certain extent, he’s dealing with it appropriately within the context of the story.”
Kirkman notes that while the scene is horrifying when taken out of context, it shows the reality of this world and the lengths people must go to fight evil. “If your friend or roommate or wife or somebody was watching that show, and you walked into the room during that scene having not seen the many minutes before that scene, you would go, ‘I have no idea what you’re watching. Please turn that off. What is wrong with you? Like, that’s crazy.’ And to me, like, that’s a great illustration of what this world is. These threats can come from anywhere, and you’re going to have to cross lines, and you will see that that was the exact response that Kyle needed to do to fix that situation. So, he didn’t do anything necessarily wrong in the context of the story, but outside the context of the story, so, so wrong.”
And what was it like actually being there on set filming the carnage? “We shouldn’t have filmed that scene,” says Kirkman, laughing. “But it was great having the freedom to do that on Cinemax, and I think it does really work in the show. Being on set for that was amazing, because it’s all fake, and Gabriel Bateman [who plays the young boy] is screaming and spitting blood and acting like he’s getting punched, and as soon as we yell ‘Cut,’ he’s giggling and laughing. And he and Patrick are just joking about it, having a great time. It was the weirdest thing in the world, because it was funny and hilarious and goofy, and then we’d yell ‘Action,’ and it’s what you see, and then we’d yell ‘Cut,’ and it would go back to two people having a great time. It was a really strange experience.”