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?
You will learn about some of his backstory, but there’s still a lot I don’t know. I don’t know anything about his family, I don’t know anything about where he lived before, specifically. I know what he did. I know why he didn’t do it anymore. Then I know what happens to him early on in the apocalypse. He meets a lot of these characters, and I think he’s relieved to have a crew again.
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.
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