Interviewed by Michael Juvinall – Horror Society
The very talented and beautiful Wrenn Schmidt (Boardwalk Empire) stars in the Cinemax horror series Outcast about demonic possession and exorcisms. The series is the brainchild of Robert Kirkman who you might know as the creator of another successful series…The Walking Dead. Wrenn stars as Megan who is the sister of lead actor Patrick Fugit.
Wrenn displays an incredible array of depth with her character on the show and is always fun to watch in her role. I had the opportunity to speak with Wrenn about her character on the show and what it took for her to pull is off so believably.
Outcast has its Season One Finale Tonight, August 12, 2016 on Cinemax @10:00 – 11:00 pm Eastern Time! Don’t Miss It!
Horror Society: How are you Wren?
Wrenn Schmidt: I’m good thanks.
Horror Society: It’s a pleasure to speak with you and I wanted to thank you for taking time out of your day to speak with me.
Wrenn Schmidt: Sure, sure happy to do it.
Horror Society: To start out, you star in Cinemax’s possession series Outcast in the role of Megan. Were you familiar with Robert Kirkman’s comic before you got the role in the series?
Wrenn Schmidt: I was familiar with The Walking Dead. I didn’t know Robert’s name but I was familiar with the show and I watched it. I was wholly unaware that he was writing a new comic that was being made into a series. When I came across the material from a casting director and I auditioned, I just knew it was a comic book they were making into a television series.
Horror Society: Okay, I see. What was it about the character of Megan that actually drew you to the role to begin with?
Wrenn Schmidt: I think my first immediate attraction to her was her sense of humor which is pretty wry and dry. I also really liked the fact that she was strong and kind of sassy. You could tell that underneath that she was driven by her love for the most important people in her life which speaks to the relationship that’s initially established in the pilot between Megan and her brother Kyle. Their scenes were really exciting to me because they were good scenes and the character seemed super fun and interesting. Also, I have to say everything got a hundred times more interesting once Patrick Fugit was involved.
Horror Society: I really enjoy watching you in the show; you do such a good job as Megan in the show.
Wrenn Schmidt: Thank you.
Horror Society: Any show or film that deals with possession or exorcisms is naturally going to draw comparisons to The Exorcist. What can you say about Outcast that makes it different than that film?
Wrenn Schmidt: Well, I’m not really an expert on that particular aspect of the horror genre. Horror is never something that I’ve had an interest in watching a lot of. It was more something I started to come across as I was working as an actor. I would come across it in chunks based on research for a show or a part or wanting to understand the things that had inspired a director to write a script. I’ve never actually seen exorcism via The Exorcist or any of the other iconic films. I actually thought that was a gift for me because I didn’t have any preconceived notions about what that might look like. I would say if you were going to compare Outcast to other iconic films that have come before, I think Robert is trying to take the stereotypes or ideas about what exorcism looks like and kind of flip them on their heads. The show really takes an approach of this isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a thing much bigger than what we understand. It’s partly about the discovery about what these things or entities are. I think it’s really great that on our show a lot of the special effects are blended with practical effects so all of the possessions feel like they are almost tactile because the practical effects are blended in and feel much more realistic than just CGI, which for me makes the whole thing feel much more palpable.
Horror Society: That’s really cool. You spoke before about having to do research. What type of research did you have to do for your role, if any?
Wrenn Schmidt: For this as far as specifically the role, I had my map for the character of Megan and those journeys were in our scripts. When I initially read the first comic before I tested for the part it was great because there was this treasure trove of information about the town, the world, what the characters look like as far as they were imagined. I don’t really look much like Megan but I think there was a lot of thought about a bunch of different actors that are in our cast. As far as what I watched, I actually watch things for more of a technical understanding of how light might be used in the show to create mystery or suspense. I actually watch a lot of American Horror Story because that’s the thing they do incredibly well in that show so it helped me understand that sometimes there are technical things going on that will create or add a lot to what I’m doing as an actor and I can kind of assist and enhance by understanding the ways in which I can work in that environment that’s being created technically.
Horror Society: Wow, that’s pretty smart of you. The show Outcast is very dark and not just in tone but in lighting with the scenes. A lot of the scenes take place in dim places. I think the DP’s did a great job with the look of the show.
Wrenn Schmidt: Yeah, we have really great DP’s.
Horror Society: A lot gets revealed about your character as the season progresses. What can you say about that?
Wrenn Schmidt: I can talk about anything you ask up until the finale episode. It was a really challenging journey to play and that always is really exciting for me, knowing I can do something is never as exciting as being given a challenge and wondering am I up to the challenge and then tackling it and come out on the other side and maybe haven’t done some kid of justice to the scene that you are being asked to tackle. That was really rewarding. Do you have a more specific question about the character?
Horror Society: Well, as the show goes on, it’s revealed that you were raped as a child by your foster brother. That plays heavily in a few episodes.
Wrenn Schmidt: Yes. That was really intense for me as an actor because I felt this deep sense of need to explore that character arc and those traumatic events that informed so much of who this woman is and what her life is. The fallout from those events was complicated and difficult emotionally as well as I guess tricky to navigate for the character as it might be for any person whose experienced sexual assault. That repetitive assault was stopped by Kyle when he became a foster child in her parent’s home. He started sleeping on her bedroom floor and stopped Donnie from being able to attack her. It’s also been really interesting to see the ways in which Megan has fought very hard not to be a victim. I think for her, she doesn’t want to be perceived as a victim. What I think the show does really well is you get to watch her unravel and then try to put herself back together and I guess find her way through this event that she thought she put to bed.
My take on the character is bad things happen to people and Megan maybe more than any character I’ve played has worked phenomenally hard to make sure that event didn’t define who she was as a person or life. It’s almost like she overcompensated. She became a child psychologist in an effort to protect or to be a resource for other young children going through difficult things. She’s very much focused on other people’s problems. I think she likes being able to fix things or feeling like she can fix things or help people. But what she’s deeply unaware of going into things is she has this Achilles heel which is this experience that she feels like she’s nailed in a coffin and buried deep in the ground. It was really interesting to play this woman who wasn’t who she thought she was.
Horror Society: Your character is full of depth and that’s one of the reasons why she’s a great character to watch onscreen.
Wrenn Schmidt: They kind of give me juicy stuff to do.
Horror Society: Yeah they do. The show itself has a very strong cast, you included. You work very closely with Patrick Fugit and David Denman. How are they to work with?
Wrenn Schmidt: Awesome! They’re both really different and I also feel like I have a very different relationship with both of them based on the fact they have different personalities. I would say with Patrick, we goof around a lot. He likes to throw hand warming packets at my head. We play hit each other all the time. We kind of joke around a lot but at the same time he’s one of the people I feel like is kind of an anchor for me in the show as well as Kyle is an anchor for Megan at certain points. On the flip side, David Denman has this ruggedly handsome look, he’s super tall, and he’s enormous on the set. He also has this persona both as Mark and in life of being this protective teddy bear. I feel like our relationship is pretty easy going and laid back. We leaned on each other when we needed to. It was like a different kind of joking with him. So many of our scenes were so serious and they’re both lovely people and tremendous actors. They both bring so much to the show and I really enjoy working with both of them. I feel really lucky that I have them as partners.
Horror Society: Yeah, they’re really great. Do you actually believe in demons and possessions and that kind of thing?
Wrenn Schmidt: I don’t. I believe in science. I wouldn’t rule it out 100 percent and say there’s no such thing but I’ve never come across it in my personal life. I really believe in evil people. I think there are many evil people in the world and that’s enough for me.
Horror Society: Good to know. We’re out of time. Thank you so much for speaking with me. I love the show and I love your character in it. I wish you the best of luck in the future.
Wrenn Schmidt: Thanks so much, thanks for watching. Thanks for talking to me.
Horror Society: Thank you and have a great day!
Watch the trailer for the Series Finale of Outcast here: