Interview on Garret Dillahunt by CBR about the tv serie amc's fear the walking dead
Dillahunt Calls Fear The Walking Dead Character ‘Opposite of Negan’
Back in 2015, actor Garret Dillahunt — of Deadwood, The Mindy Project, Hand of God and more — publicly lobbied for the role of charming-yet-psychotic baseball bat-wielding Negan on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Of course, that role went to Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but Dillahunt made his love for Robert Kirkman’s franchise known — and now enters it as John Dorey on Season 4 of Fear The Walking Dead, a mysterious gunslinger who appears somewhat incongruous given the setting of the modern-day zombie apocalypse.
Dillahunt is one of multiple high-profile newcomers to the new season of the Walking Dead spinoff, along with Jenna Elfman and Maggie Grace, plus Lennie James, who will migrate the long-running character of Morgan Jones from the TWD mothership, in the much-hyped first-ever crossover between the two shows. It appears that John and Morgan will have some type of working relationship, as CBR observed a scene between the two encountering an unknown interloper during a visit in late January to the show’s Austin set.
Naturally, further details on Dillahunt’s role on Fear The Walking Dead remain shrouded in secrecy, but CBR and three other outlets got whatever details were available during a group interview between takes — including Dillahunt’s perspective of entering FTWD as a fan of the established material, how John Dorey is “the opposite of Negan,” John’s relationship with Morgan who would win a duel between his character and Rick Grimes.
How is it being on Fear The Walking Dead?
Garret Dillahunt: It’s great to be on this show. I feel a lot of pressure. It’s a universe that I’m a fan of, and I don’t want to mess it up. So we’re working really hard. I’m really tired. [Laughs]
You’re a fan of Negan, and the Internet thought you might have been Negan at one point. Do you catch some Negan-type vibes from your character?
They’re very different. He’s like the opposite of Negan. I don’t know what I can tell you.
He’s a capable fellow, and he protects people he likes. Hard.
What’s John’s motivation on the show?
Other than just survival in this world? He’s kind of a loner. They all are. But he likes people, so he’s happy to find some. He protects his group. He’s a sheepdog.
Do we learn about where he came from?
Being a fan of this universe coming into Fear The Walking Dead, how does it make the experience different than other roles
Not sure how it makes it different, because I don’t want to imply I don’t care about other roles. [Laughs] I was a fan. I did meet Scott Gimple over the phone as we talked about Negan possibilities — as he talked about it with many people — I was not available to do it anyway, I was doing Hand of God on Amazon. It started a relationship. And then I enjoyed messing with people about it as if I had an actual shot — I don’t know if I’d be a good Negan, anyway.
Then I think since he knew I was a fan of the show, he called like a year later. “I’m writing this guy, and thinking of you. What do you think?” So we talked about it a lot, maybe starting beginning in the summer. And then by the end of the summer, I was in.
Lennie’s been doing this character for eight years now, and you’ve been watching the show. Does that affect your approach in scenes with him?
Not really. I’m an actor. This isn’t a new situation, in a way — you show up, this is my character, I’m going to play it. He’s going to play his. I love the scene where we meet. He’s just such a good dude. He’s so savvy. That guy’s done all kinds of things, in all kinds of places. From Shakespeare to zombie-killing. I know I can rely on him.
I think the tricker thing for new people coming on any show, and I’ve done this before, is when you’re joining a group that’s already established. That’s a tricky vibe. We’re not doing The Walking Dead, it’s Fear The Walking Dead. But it’s new showrunners, new writers, a bunch of new cast members. Thank god I knew Kim [Dickens] before — I talked with her a lot before I took the job. “This is the most fun I’ve ever had on a show. It’s the hardest work, so be warned, but I think you should do it.” We hadn’t worked together since Deadwood, so I wanted to work with her again.
It’s not that it’s easy, but it’s what we do. Thank Christ on this particular job, everybody’s so sweet.
What can you say about the meeting between your character and Morgan?
I like the way it’s written. I like the surprise of it. I like how it was shot — it’s gorgeous. It’s not what I was imaging, but it was better. It’s a real surprise kind of meeting. I just like what it did to me as an actor and as a character.
He’s a guileless person. Those guys are fun to play. I’m not. He’s open to responding in the moment to real people. You wouldn’t necessarily feel threatened by him — he looks you in the eye, and wants to know you, and you’re like, “I don’t know if he’s good or bad, but I know who he is right away.”
You alluded to having played similar characters in the past — what is it about John specifically that you really got excited about?
He’s very capable. He’s very good on his own, but he’s a social person.
Have you shot any big ensemble days? What it’s been like working on the bigger days when more of the cast is together?
I kind of like it, because there’s less on my shoulders. The episodes where it’s all about you, it’s like, “How many days have we been shooting? Two? It feels like 27!”
You mentioned your character is a social person, and we know he has scenes with Morgan — what are some other relationships that are important to him on this show?
I’m sure I can’t tell you that. [Laughs]
Who would win a duel, you or Rick?
Oh, me. He’s just a cop. He’s a good cop and a tough guy, but this is all I do.
What kind of dude would you describe John as before the apocalypse?
I think he was very similar. I think he might be the best suited kind of personality to this kind of crisis. He’s a real adapter, but he tries to keep his chin up, you know what I mean?