EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: THE GREY Star Dallas Roberts on Playing an Original Character in THE WALKING DEAD Season Three
Published: November 21, 2012 - 10:27am
[Spoiler warning] I recently had the chance to speak with actor Dallas Roberts on playing The Governor's right hand man in the third season of AMC's The Walking Dead. We talked about what to expect in the episodes ahead, his involvement in Joe Carnahan's The Grey and why Ingenius, which co-stars Jeremy Renner, was delayed for so long.
The Walking Dead tells the story of the weeks and months that follow a pandemic zombie apocalypse. County Sheriff Rick Grimes travels with his family and a small group of survivors, constantly in search of a safe and secure home. But the constant pressure of fighting off death on a daily basis takes a heavy toll, sending many to the lowest depths of human cruelty. As Rick struggles to keep his family alive, he will discover that the overwhelming fear of the survivors can be far more dangerous than the mindless walkers roaming the earth.
Dallas Roberts, who has starred in many popular films including Walk The Line, 3:10 to Yuma and most recently alongside Liam Neeson in the critically acclaimed survival thriller The Grey, has been cast as a brand new character that wasn't featured in the comics for AMC's zombie apocalypse series The Walking Dead. He plays Milton, a resident of the safehaven Woodbury, which is run by the notorious Governor (David Morrissey). The town is also home to Merle (Michael Rooker) and is where Milton performs science experiments on the zombies in order to figure out what makes the undead tick.
Keven: You've mentioned you were familiar with The Walking Dead comics prior to joining the show, so have you read the entire prison arc in which this season is based on?
Dallas: "I've read the comics up to and beyond the prison storyline. The great thing about the graphic novel is that the length of the story in terms of the graphic novel shows that there's a long road to go and plenty of time to get as dark as they desire."
How does your character Milton fit into this world? He's not a fighter like Merle or a sociopath like The Governor, how has he managed to last this long in the zombie apocalypse?
"Number one is his proximity to the Governor has allowed him to last this long. I don’t think on his own that he has many skills that would benefit him but having been sort of taken in by the Governor and being indisposable to him by being able to focus more strongly on the causes or the effects of the virus -- that’s something the Governor's not going to be able to do by himself. Milton's brains have kept him valuable and his values have kept him alive."
During the gladiator fights, it's hinted at that Milton doesn't approve of some of Woodbury's traditions. Is he headed to an inevitable clash with Merle and the Governor or are we in store for something else entirely?
"Well all that remains to be seen. I can certainly say that in any civilized society, you gotta protect your borders and out on the borders there are people like Merle and the Governor who do some dirty work in order to keep the rest of the society functional. Milton's an idealist in that way in which that dirty work wasn't necessary but he's smart enough to understand that the world is not a perfect place, especially now that everyone's undead [laughs]."
Milton wrangled with a walker for the Gladiator fights in a recent episode. What was it liking filming that brutal scene?
"It's fun if anything. When you sign up for The Walking Dead, you're hoping to get close to zombies for sure. That was a fun little clue into Milton's character that he had somehow decided that duct tape was going to have enough textile strength to manage zombies and in the field test was proven correct. I think he was happy about that. Any time Greg Nicotero or any of the effects people get involved it's just what you want it to be, it's incredibly gory, realistic and freaky so you don't have to act too hard when someone who looks like that is coming at you."
Keven: Going back to your role in The Grey, your character's death was by far the most heart breaking scene in the whole movie. What was it like having your character make it so far only to meet his end in such a tragic way?
"I've had family who've watched it and said that they just stopped watching it, covered their eyes or at least turned away. I understand that and I certainly wouldn't want my kids to watch daddy die. The cool part about it, is he's one of the few guys in that movie who dies knowing that he's dying. He's not getting his throat ripped out -- he's 45 seconds of "oh man, I almost made it and I'm going out like this". Being under the water and that close to the surface, god it must be a horrible way to go out. What I love about it -- is that it elicits that reaction and big ups to Joe Carnahan for writing that the second to last guy going out doesn't get taken out by a wolf but rather by the elements."
What was your interpretation of the ending?
"I think that Otway (Liam), having begun the movie suicidal and finding reasons to live and men and friendship and all of that as a value to his life. Then he's walked straight into the center of it and I have no doubts that he took it to the wolf and I have no doubt the wolf took it to him. I have very little doubt that you won't be seeing The Grey 2."
You're in a film called Ingenius with Jeremy Renner. The film is based on a true story and your character plays an inventor with Renner portraying your partner. What did he invent?
"I don't think it's a secret to say that my character invents the talking beer opener. I think it started out sort of like "ohhh yeah, beer" and has sort of spread around the world. He invents a lot of stuff but this is the one that ends up working.
Recently it had to turn to Kickstarter in order to garner a theatrical release. What are your thoughts on why, even after glowing festival reviews, it ended up getting delayed for two years?
"I'm a guy who's been in a number of movies, some of which I've never seen after walking off the set. So I'm never surprised, especially when an independent film has trouble just because it's a lot easier to sell Spider-Man, Captain America and franchise number seven. But what I really thought was great about that movie in particular is that they did the festival circuit and were offered distribution in a video on demand way instead of a theatrical release. They stuck with it and denied that premise and went to this thing, Kickstarter, which you couldn't five years ago and found the funds to have a proper opening to the film and act as closure for the filmmakers and writers. The story of the film is beautiful but the story of the making of the film is also a beautiful story."
AMC's Emmy Award-winning series The Walking Dead is directed by Glen Mazzara and based on the acclaimed comic book series by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard. The upcoming season will star Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Steven Yeun, Chandler Riggs, David Morrissey, Danai Gurira and Michael Rooker.