Now that “Fear the Walking Dead” is behind us, fans of AMC’s zombie drama universe are looking ahead to Season 6 of "The Walking Dead." With the network promising one of the best runs of the show yet, Eugene actor Josh McDermitt says he’s never been happier to be both an actor on the show and a super fan.
Viewers may recognize McDermitt as the mullet-sporting, soft spoken “coward" that joined the group of survivors on “The Walking Dead” in Season 4. His character, Eugene, previously tricked the group into believing that he possessed the knowledge and skills to reverse the zombie apocalypse if they got him safely to Washington D.C. While the cure ended up being a lie, it did get the group to abandon the nightmarish Georgia in favor of the safe haven of Alexandria, where they’ll begin Season 6.
With a character based on the original comic books by Robert Kirkman, McDermitt feels almost relieved that he joined the cast so late into the series’ run, especially since he was a fan of the show prior to his audition.
“You get guys like [Andrew Lincoln], Norman [Reedus], Steven [Yeun] and even Lauren [Cohan] and they’ve all kind of been on the show since the beginning, Lauren from Season 2. But they don’t know what it’s like to be a fan of the show and sit on your couch with your friends and just be a fan only. They are certainly fans of the show, but they were never like us who haven’t been around since the show took off," McDermitt told International Business Times in a phone interview. “To actually be working on the show and get a peek behind the curtain was a dream come true.”
There are a lot of people on the show that say they either are fans or became fans once they realized they’d been cast, but that’s not the case with the 37-year-old actor. In fact, precious few have likely given as much thought into how their characters fit into the mythos of the series as McDermitt. When asked what it was like to play a bookish type on the series, the actor was quick to point out that he’s not the first academic to grace the screen on “The Walking Dead.” Diehard fans like himself may remember Milton from Season 3.
“The thing with Milton is, he wasn’t in the comic books and Eugene is. Alex Roberts, who played Milton and did a great job, wasn’t based off the comic books like my character. So, I don’t know if [Milton was based on him] in any way, I would even say Eugene is different from Milton,” the actor told IBT, getting joyfully lost in his own speculation. “Eugene is maybe a bit more socially awkward and a bit more of a coward. You know, he was lying about everything. Milton would wrap his arm in duct tape, which is a smart move, that’s not to take away from the intelligence of that character, but Eugene would never do that. He’d tell someone else to do it, sure, but he’d never want to be there trying to do it himself like Milton.”
While it’s certainly fun for both McDermitt and fans to hear the actor’s thoughts on the show before joining, what everyone wants to know about is what’s ahead for Season 6. This is especially true for Eugene, who was forced to step up to a position of bravery in order to save Tara (Alanna Masterson) in Season 5, episode 14, “Spend.” While it was perhaps the character’s biggest moment on the show, McDermitt stopped short of accepting it as his defining moment, since he’s not sure the change will last.
“We have to remember where Eugene is at. It’s this place where he has to figure out his place in Alexandria and how he fits into this group. After that moment with Tara, I think he’s slowly starting to realize that he can stay there and kind of sustain living in that community on his own. Then, at the end of the season, we had Rick, who has pretty much gone insane. He comes in and slams a dead walker down on the floor in front of everyone having a meeting about whether or not to kick him out. All of a sudden, it’s very unstable there," he said, commenting on the Season 5 cliffhanger that saw Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) execute a man. “... Whether it’s becoming a hero or not, he doesn’t want to live on the road. So now this community that he’s in is in jeopardy.”
Fans looking forward to seeing McDermitt reprise his role as Eugene in Season 6 of “The Walking Dead" when it premieres Oct. 11 on AMC. In the meantime, you can check out one of Eugene's biggest moments from Season 5 in the video below. [Warning: the following video contain spoilers.]