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Why star of exorcism drama isn't getting into spirit of risky stunts

As Philip Glenister returns as Reverend Anderson in supernatural drama Outcast, he talks to Jeananne Craig about religion, the troubled character he plays and why he longs for Life on Mars repeats.

Some actors make it a badge of honour to do their own stunts. Philip Glenister isn't one of them.

He plays Reverend Anderson in Outcast, a supernatural show with its fair share of action, exorcisms and blood, but he's happy to leave the more challenging stuff to his stunt double, Duke.

"There's one scene where I have to sort of jump in a lake at night, which wasn't much fun. They said, 'So how do you feel about doing it?' I just said, 'Duke, what's your swimming like?'" Confesses the 54-year-old, looking suitably relaxed as he reclines on a plush hotel sofa, nursing a cuppa and an electronic cigarette.

"Me and Reg E (Cathey, who plays police head Chief Giles) are at an age where we're like, 'We'll just go and have a coffee; give us a shout when you've made us look marvellous'."

He'll do the odd driving scene. "You're sitting down for that," he explains.

"But anything involving horses now? Forget it. And anything involving heights or smashing at the ground, somebody else can do that."

Based on the Outcast comic book series, and created by the Walking Dead's Robert Kirkman, the show follows Kyle Barnes, who has been plagued by demonic possession all his life. Kyle has embarked on a journey to find answers alongside Glenister's whiskey-swilling, deep south preacher, Rev Anderson.

In series two, the stakes are "very much upped", says Glenister, who's best known for playing DCI Gene Hunt in the hugely successful Life On Mars and its follow-up, Ashes To Ashes. There may also be more than meets the eye to Sidney, a sinister character played by Brent Spiner.

"The threat, this possession thing, is taking over the town, and is basically a much bigger threat than we all thought it was in the first place.

"There's a point in the season when the three of us - me and Kyle and Giles - are forced to come together, and we have to do something to counter this."

The Reverend, however, is still battling some worsening personal demons of his own."He's in a pretty dark place," says Glenister.

"He really reaches rock bottom, to the point where he's living out of the back of his car. Everybody thinks he's crazy - he's been booted out of the church, his relations with Kyle are very strained."

When he was preparing for the role, Glenister found inspiration watching a celebrity evangelist on US TV, noting his magnetism and the power he commanded over the audience.

"It's interesting playing somebody who is so hell-bent on preaching the message," he says. "Ultimately, he's not a fraud, the Reverend, and I think a lot of these evangelicals are out-and-out fraudsters. But it's interesting because we seem to live in an age when there are lots of fraudsters around in various guises... no names mentioned."

The actor, who has two daughters, Millie and Charlotte, with his actress wife Beth Goddard isn't a big fan of organised religion. But he says: "I don't have a problem with people who have faith - it's each to their own. I think it's important that people have a spirituality. I don't think you need a badge of religion to do good things or to be a decent person."

Despite his convincing performance in the show, the Middlesex-born star confesses he isn't much of a believer in the supernatural either.

"I'm agnostic about it," he admits. "I wouldn't be arrogant enough to say, 'It's all hokum', but I'd find it surprising if there was anything."

Outcast has amassed plenty of fans since it started, but it's another otherworldly show, the detective series Life On Mars, that Glenister gets approached about most in the street - despite having had plenty of other high-profile work (including the Sky 1 series Mad Dogs) since it finished airing in 2007.

"It's part and parcel of the journey, I suppose," he says. "It was quite long ago now, but obviously it had such an impact with people as a show.

"It'd be nice if the BBC bloody repeated it every now and again... I'd get some repeat fees."

With perfect timing, his phone begins to ring. The word 'agent' flashes on the screen.

Switching it off, he continues: "I'm sure every time Daniel Craig does a job he'll get asked about James Bond; Benedict Cumberbatch will get one about Sherlock, and David Tennant will get one about Doctor Who. People on the street keep saying, 'When's Life On Mars going to be back on?'"

In a line worthy of his straight-talking alter ego Gene Hunt, Glenister adds: "It's like, 'It hasn't been on for 10 years, love. That's a clue'."

  • The second series of Outcast begins on Fox on Monday, April 3, at 10pm.

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