Outcast (Summer, Cinemax)
Credit: Niko Tavernise/Cinemax

Robert Kirkman has the highest-rated show on TV (The Walking Dead) and the highest-debuting show in cable TV history (Fear the Walking Dead), but his next television project is completely zombie-free. Instead of a world filled with flesh-eating undead cannibals, Kirkman’s new comic-book adaptation tackles the world of demonic possession. And that isn’t the only difference.

Based on Kirkman’s comic book series, Outcast will debut on Cinemax in the summer of 2016. Above is an exclusive, brand-new shot of star Patrick Fugit (as Kyle Barnes) in the midst of an exorcism with a small child (played by Gabriel Bateman). We also spoke to Kirkman about his latest adaptation and bringing that big scene to the TV screen.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What makes Outcast different from other exorcism stuff we’ve seen before?

ROBERT KIRKMAN: If The Walking Dead is the zombie movie that never ends — about these people surviving for years and years in a way you’ve never seen in a zombie movie before — Outcast is about people treating demonic possession as a solvable problem. So as opposed to performing an exorcism and leaving, packing up your stuff like, “Call me up when the next one happens,” these people are going to be engaged in what’s actually going on, how to prevent it, and how to stop it once and for all.

The comic contains a pretty graphic exorcism of a young boy. How did you bring that scene from page to screen?

KIRKMAN: Well, our exorcisms involve Kyle Barnes, who is not trained in any kind of exorcism lore and is not religious in any way and has no affiliations to any church. So he has abilities that aid him in these exorcisms, but they’re very unique and I would say far more violent than a typical exorcist would be, which is very interesting because he’s going to be exorcizing a wide range of people, including a small child in our first episode, which I think is gonna be something people are talking about, let’s just say that.

As far as part of putting the scene together, Adam Wingard, fantastic director of movies like The Guest and You’re Next, just really got in there and tried to figure out different ways of taking what was in the comic, what was in my script for the pilot, and bringing it to life in ways that are really believable and push the envelope. There was a lot of concern on my part in terms of what we would allowed to get away with, and what we would be able to accomplish in a realistic way. Because when you see two people that are much different sizes interacting in that way, it could end up being possibly a little unbelievable. But we were able to avoid that entirely. It’s a pretty remarkable scene. I’m excited for people to check it out.

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What would you say are the differences between the show and the comic?

KIRKMAN: I would say the show is definitely an expansion of what happens in the comic. The comic book focuses almost exclusively on Kyle Barnes and Rev. Anderson and some side characters here and there. But largely it focuses on those two characters. When it comes to the show, what we’re doing is expanding that world quite a bit, giving the characters much more to do and definitely rounding out the town of Rome, West Virginia, a little more — taking what’s in the comic and adding to it in some really cool and interesting ways. It’s not like The Walking Dead, where we do completely different things. There are some big differences to what we’re doing with Kyle and Anderson, but mostly it’s expanding and building around what exists in the comic series.

Any completely new characters not from the comic, like Daryl on The Walking Dead?

KIRKMAN: Most of those characters are present in the comic but I just haven’t had room in the comic to get to them. In the show we have more minutes to fill so it’s great to be able to expand those roles tremendously, and be able to work with actors like Catherine Dent [as Janet] and Scott Porter [as Donnie] who have been doing a great job. Brent Spiner as the character Sidney definitely gets more play in the show than he does in the comic. Expanding all those roles has been a lot of fun.

You had your comic-book vision of Rick Grimes for years, and then Andy Lincoln starts playing him on screen, and it’s similar to but also a bit different from the comic version. What about Patrick Fugit now playing Kyle Barnes? How is his Kyle Barnes similar to and different from the comic Kyle?

KIRKMAN: Maybe it’s just because it’s not lines on paper but there’s a lot more heart. There’s definitely potential for a lot more sympathy. We definitely try to make Kyle Barnes in the comic as sympathetic as possible, but I think with Patrick walking around embodying that character, he just brings so much humanity to the role. This is a guy who’s been beaten down by life, he’s messed around with demonic possession, and it’s kinda gotten to this place where he is this kind of dejected shell of what he once was, but there’s still so much humanity left in him, you end up rooting for him in a way that’s accentuated a great deal by Patrick’s performance.

To continue reading more on Outcast, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones, and more, pick up Entertainment Weekly‘s First Look issue, on newsstands Tuesday, or buy it here.

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