With his imposing physical presence and basso profundo voice, Reg E. Cathey is one of the most recognizable character actors working today. And, as he takes on a new role for comic book and television scribe Robert Kirkman‘s latest series, “Outcast,” he’s an Emmy-winner, to boot.
Cathey’s been a familiar Hollywood face for years, having appeared on everything from prestigiously pedigreed projects like David Simon’s “The Wire” and “The Corner,” to genre fare as Baron Samedi in “Grimm” and Dr. Franklin Storm in the recent “Fantastic Four” reboot. But it’s his stint on “House of Cards” as the gravelly voiced confident to Frank Underwood and disgraced D.C. rib joint owner Freddy Hayes that caught the Emmy committee’s eye.
CBR News caught up with the actor at the Creative Arts Emmys, where he outlined the joys of working on the acclaimed Netflix series and his excitement over his next project, a TV adaptation of Kirkman and Paul Azaceta‘s possession-themed Image Comic series “Outcast” for the pay-cable network Cinemax.
CBR News: You’ve got something pretty exciting on your plate next.
Reg E. Cathey: I’m doing “Outcast” for Cinemax, Robert Kirkman’s new show. Oh, it’s going to be good! I’m playing the Police Chief Giles. And it’s scary.
I’m sure you’ve sampled the comics a little bit.
So how does it compare? “Walking Dead” has its departures from that comic book, but how does this one fare?
This is very faithful, since it’s him — that was him, too, but this is more him, it feels like. I can’t really speak, because I wasn’t on “Walking Dead,” but it’s really close. Even though we’re on Episode 4 — we just started, and it’s already really scary, and really true to the feel of the comic book. The fans’ll be happy. Patrick Fugit is amazing.
Is it a lot of winding the audience up with suspense, or are there a lot of full-on, right-in-your-face scary moments?
There’s both. And because he’s really concentrating on who these characters are, this very specific West Virginia [region], very specific. That’s what’s fun [about] acting this, so that it’s not just about scary — and it’s real scary — but it’ll hook you first. It’s like, Shakespeare always made you laugh before he made you cry.
What’s uniquely interesting about Robert Kirkman as someone to work with?
His mind. He is one of the smartest guys, without being obnoxious. Sometimesm really intelligent people have to be the smartest person in the room — not Robert. And because he’s such a philosopher, he’s very, very funny. And very laid back, watching how the situation unfolds before he [comments]. He’s like Sherlock Holmes, basically.
Did you feel like something special was happening with you and this role on “House of Cards?”
Instantly. When I auditioned [for “House of Cards”], I knew it was going to be special, whether I was going to get the part or not. When I did end up getting the part, that first meeting with David Fincher and Kevin [Spacey] and Beau Willimon, I knew it was going to be special, whether people liked it or not. And so it’s good. From the very beginning, I knew.
The show’s populated by amazing actors, and most of your scenes have been with Kevin Spacey. What was the most fun about being on set and locking horns with your colleagues?
Well, Kevin and I, since the first year was mostly the two of us together, we developed this wonderful way of working, completely relaxed and fast. That was the whole [thing]. The second year had mostly been — Gerald McRaney would start to show up. And then what was fun, because we both worked really, really fast, we’d be very cordial and collegial, but it was always a surprise for the new guys, [snaps fingers] to see how quick we would go. And then we would laugh later, after. Except Mac — Gerald McRaney — an amazing actor and an even better human being. Never. He was like, “Nah, I’m too old. You guys, please stop.” We had fun.
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