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Exclusive: Gabriel Bateman Talks Outcast & American Gothic

Gabriel BatemanTonight the new series Outcast, based on the comic series by Robert Kirkman, premieres on Cinemax. Gabriel Bateman (Stalker, Code Black) plays the part of Joshua, a boy who is possessed by a demon.

The actor can also be seen in the upcoming series American Gothic, premiering later in the month, as well as in the film Lights Out, where he stars alongside Teresa Palmer, which comes to theaters July 22nd.

Bateman recently talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview about his roles on Outcast and American Gothic.

Gabriel Bateman
Photo © Ted Sun
How did you become involved in Outcast?

I auditioned with Laray Mayfield, and actually, my first audition was taped, and then she brought me in for producers. After that she gave me some notes of how she wanted me to do it if I were to come back.

Then I screen tested with Patrick Fugit and Robert Kirkman. After that, I brought my own energy into it and what I thought the character would be feeling, because he's kind of new to this world, and he doesn't really understand what's going on. He's conflicted between Joshua, who's still in there, and the demon.

Can you tell me a little bit more about your character Joshua?

For the most part he's just a little boy, and then he gets possessed by a demon and he doesn't really have any control over him, and the demon doesn't really know where he is. He's one thousand years old, and he's not used to this world, so he's completely confused. And he's conflicted, between one side of him who's an innocent little boy, and the other who's an evil creature. It's kind of like Golem and Smeagol (from The Lord of the Rings trilogy).

And after he meets Outcast - that's someone who he's heard of, and from there he's kind of just grown into someone and something that's more comfortable with this world and not threatening now.

Is Joshua aware that he's possessed?

No, I don't think he is exactly, and he doesn't really have any control over it, because the demon has taken control.

Have you read any of the comics the part was based on?

Not before I auditioned, but after I read the first draft of the script, I was really interested, and I knew it was based on something Robert did, so I researched it. And after that my mom bought me the first few.

Can you talk about working with Kirkman?

He is really amazing. He's just a complete genius, and he would sometimes come over and kind of tell me how he saw the scene going and leave it up to me to decide and kind of guide it there without controlling too much of it. And he would try to share some of his ideas with me without spoiling too much about future episodes or comic strips, because he didn't want to have it all spoiled for me.

Gabriel BatemanIt was really amazing working with him, because I read most of The Walking Dead series before I auditioned, so it was kind of like meeting an idol.

Have you watched The Walking Dead television show at all? It seems a little scary for you at your age, but I guess the comics aren't as violent as the show.

I have five older brothers, and they all watched it, so they kind of told me a lot about it, but I haven't watched any of it yet.

In the trailer for Outcast, you smash a bug on the wall with your head, so obviously you worked with some practical effects, like the fake blood. Can you talk about working with those?

Originally they were going to have a dummy do it, but it didn't look real enough, so they had me practice with it in rehearsal, and they asked if I could do it. So after that they just added fake blood, which was corn syrup and red dye, and the [bug] gummy was something made out of gelatin, but it didn't really have a taste.

It was just awesome; it was so fun.

What was the most difficult part of filming for you?

Well at first I was kind of confused about what my character would be thinking coming into this world and how he would react to other beings that he doesn't really understand anything about. And after meeting Robert, he kind of told me how he saw this going, and from there I just kind of sculpted my own idea of what he'd be doing. So I think that was probably the hardest, just trying to wrap my mind around what he'd be thinking.

How many episodes are you in Outcast?

So far two, but I might be in more.

Moving on to the series American Gothic, can you tell me a bit about that show? There isn't a lot of information out there.

I think that's on purpose; they want to keep it secret, but it's about a family politically running for mayor, and at the end of the first episode, there's kind of a bombshell dropped that there's a serial killer who's linked to their family who had supposedly stopped killing a while ago.

Gabriel BatemanYou play the character Jack, can you tell me a bit about him?

To say the least, he's disturbed, but it seems to run in the family.

I saw that you tweeted a picture of you and someone dressed as a giant frog, can you tell me anything about that?

I actually can't tell you anything about that yet, but if you watch the show then it should explain some of it. And it's not actually anybody dressed in a costume; it's actually a complete dummy.

I know you aren't allowed to tell me a lot about the series yet, but is there something that you can talk about that people would like to know?

I can talk some about the atmosphere and kind of how you feel watching it and how you feel even reading the scripts. It's very compelling, and at the end of each episode, it's kind of like cliffhangers you'd find in a season, but it sets up for the next episode. And even for me just reading the scripts, not even seeing the whole thing, I couldn't wait for the next one to come out. It's very compelling and interesting.

Both these and your upcoming film Lights Out are some pretty scary shows, which you seem to have been in a lot of. Has anything scared you while working on these few recent projects?

Well, not really, because I have the experience of filming them, and I know all the other actors. So I'm kind of comfortable with them since I remember doing all those things, but I think if I were to watch them without actually remembering doing them, then I probably would be scared.

For both Joshua and Jack, how do you kind of connect to these dark characters? How do you get into that darkness of the character?

Well when I first auditioned for them I would try to kind of isolate myself and think like they would think, because of course I'm not actually a psychopath or a demon, but everybody kind of has things in them that they can connect to, whether it's just regular things that the character says or thinks about or even unusual things. So I just tried to grasp onto them and from there build a foundation.

What do you do in between filming to relax?

When I first came out here the guy who plays my dad [in American Gothic], Justin (Cam Hawthorne), introduced me to rock climbing, and after that I've been going almost every Sunday and just completely relaxing after I'm done.

Gabriel BatemanWhat kinds of television series or films do you like to watch?

Different things, actually. They're all not that similar to each other, because I don't really have a specific genre, just anything that compels me, but right now I'm watching The Voice on TV.

Do you have a dream role dream type of role that you'd love to get to play?

I've actually auditioned for kind of a dream role of mine, but just mainly someone who kind of looks out for themselves and thinks of themselves as tough, but later realizes they need other people in their lives.

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