Comic Image Credit: Skybound/Image Comics

It’s not everyday you meet a reverend who does battle with demons and struts the pulpit like a rock star. According to actor Philip Glenister, his character Reverend Anderson does just that in Robert Kirkman’s upcoming series Outcast. chatted with Glenister to find out more about the Reverend’s “mission to right wrongs” and the bad habits that pepper his journey along the way.

When did you first read the Outcast comics?

After I got this job, I read the first comic, and then I stopped reading them. I’m not really a huge comic book fan, if I’m honest. I know I shouldn’t be saying that, but I’ve got to be truthful. I wanted to see what the layout was like and see the content, and just kind of see what all the fuss was about with these things. I know how big it is and how huge the whole Comic Con thing is, so in that respect, I wanted to see what people find in these comics.

How would you describe Reverend Anderson?

Troubled. Tormented soul. Smokes too much. Drinks too much. But he’s on a mission. He obviously specializes in exorcism, but he’s not very good at it. He doesn’t have the touch—the gift—that Kyle has. I think it’s a mission to right wrongs. It’s as basic as that. How he goes about it is open to question. That’s for the audience to decide.

Did you build any backstory before filming?

People ask me, “Oh, did you go on YouTube and watch loads of exorcisms?” My family and I were out here [in South Carolina, where the series is filmed] in the beginning of August, and we were watching TV together in bed, and this evangelical service started going on. And this young guy—real trendy ripped jeans, tight t-shirt, buff—was absolutely owning the stage. He was sitting on the end of the stage and just chatting to his flock. I thought, This guy is good. He’s seriously…this is a good actor. And it suddenly occurred to me: What this guy kind of is is a bit of a rock star. And I figured that’s what Anderson is when he’s doing his sermons. It’s having that kind of power. That’s what I played with.

You have one of the most interesting props: the tool kit.

My tool kit, yeah! I plan to market it: “Get Your Own Exorcism Kit.” Get your sage, your bible, your cross. I think we could do a roaring business.

What’s it like filming those exorcism scenes?

Those scenes look amazing on screen when they’re all cut together and edited, but to shoot, they’re terribly dull for actors. Because you’re looking at the kid—he’s not there—you’re just imagining him. So you’re going like, Look, oh my god he’s throwing up! Personally, I don’t like them, because I have to learn this flowery language, and it’s much, much harder to learn. I kept saying to [showrunner] Chris [Black] and the guys, Guys, you’ve got to—I can do this with a look, man.

What do you think of Outcast’s treatment of the exorcist theme?

I think one of my concerns for this, which hasn’t happened thank goodness, is that I didn’t want the show—certainly my character—to have an exorcism of the week. “Who’s going to be the demon of the town this week?” It becomes a little like Batman or something and becomes too formulaic and repetitive. The undercurrent of the piece is so much stronger than that.

By Eleanor Laurence/Cinemax