Comic Image Credit: Skybound/Image Comics

For Mark Holter—a police officer in Rome, West Virginia—life is black and white, right and wrong. So says actor David Denman, who plays Mark in the upcoming Outcast television series. With such a cut-and-dry outlook on life, it isn’t easy being the brother-in-law of Kyle, a guy who spends his time exorcising demons and beating people up along the way. sat down with Denman to find out how he brought some three-dimensionality to his character.  

How did you develop Mark for the screen?

I didn’t want Mark to be a two-dimensional character—the jerk who doesn’t like Kyle and makes his life hard. Mark is a very black and white guy, he sees right and wrong in things. And Mark’s issue is that Kyle hit his kid, and everyone’s covering for it and making excuses, and nobody’s doing the right thing. Mark doesn’t understand why everyone’s making all these excuses, and it drives him crazy. But on top of that, I created my own backstory.

What is that backstory?

Well, I felt like Mark had a very overbearing father who was probably abusive to him. And he is sensitive about that—seeing another child getting hurt or injured. He’s not going to let somebody in his house who could possibly hurt his child or his family.

When I talked to [showrunner] Chris [Black], when he pitched this show to me, he said it’s not just about the demons that are in the town—it’s about the demons that are inside these people. And I said, ”So what is Mark’s demon?” He said, “His demon is his inability to control his rage when it comes to protecting his family. And he makes some really rash, foolish decisions.”

What are the dynamics between Mark, his wife Megan and Kyle?

Megan wears the pants in the family. She’s the one that calls the shots most of the time. Even though Mark says no, she still does what she wants and deals with his being upset about it. As the story goes on, Mark ends up having to go to Kyle for help—to get some information—and things are revealed to him. It makes him soften a little bit more to Kyle.

What do you think of the comic books versus the show?

I read the first comic when they sent me the script just to see what the world was, and I got to see the pilot before I signed on. It’s a different beast bringing the show to life. For instance, I find Patrick to be just the perfect casting for this role, and it’s because he has this quiet strength about him, this motor that’s running inside of him. I think if you just look at the comic you could make the mistake of making Kyle manic. There’s a stillness to Patrick that plays against that. He still has all that stuff inside of him that’s burning up.

Did you make any conscious divergences from the comic book version of Mark?

Part of the thing with Mark was that in the comic he’s so angry and rageful, and I said I don’t want to play that. I’m not interested in doing that. We pass the comics halfway through the season. So it creates a lot of license for us to create characters as we want. [Show creator] Robert Kirkman and Chris Black have been really supportive and pretty open to what I think about Mark. He’s a good guy. He’s a family man. He’s trying to do the right thing. When you meet him at the beginning of the story, you don’t see all the rest of that. You just see him pissed off at Kyle, and so I think it would be a mistake to assume that’s all there is about him.

What would you say is Mark’s driving force?

Family is first. But as we start to investigate events, he’s getting dismissed by Chief Giles quite easily and has obvious questions. So I think that is part of his conundrum: Am I crazy or is everybody around me crazy?

How would you describe Mark?

Strong, loyal and…determined. He’s a quiet man of few words.