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Fan Fest Exclusive Interview: ‘Fear The Walking Dead’s’ Garret Dillahunt

Garret Dillahunt as John - Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 1 - Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

Fear The Walking Dead is about to start its 4th season, and we had the opportunity to interview Garret Dillahunt, who plays one of the brand new characters on the series.

Opening up the interview, we talked with Garret about his character John. Without us giving too much away, Garret shared many traits about John with us that we are super excited about. He says that John is loyal, and in his words “a sheepdog.” He also describes John as “from another time.”

He’s absolutely right. From what we’ve seen, he is super skilled with a gun fit for a cowboy. It’s almost as if he was plucked from The Magnificent Seven and placed into the world of the zombie apocalypse.

There is also a lot more to him. For example, his character’s humor is something I noticed right off the bat. He has a unique and really lovable way about him. There’s a scene in the first episode where you think he might be gone, but he’s not. He comes back at a very opportune time-and it honestly made me laugh!

Here is more from our conversation with Garret Dillahunt:

Shannon: What do you want fans to take away from John-right off the bat?

Garret: Those are hard ones. I like when people fill in the blanks in such unique ways. It’s always different for everybody. Which I really dig. But I just hope they welcome him. I think they will.

I’m just so proud of what everyone is doing out there. Everyone seems really reinvigorated and I think there’s really lovely story telling going on from everyone. From behind the camera, we’ve got some incredible DP’S making it look beautiful. DP’s with some pedigree. You know?

I think it’s important, in these kinds of situations to have some sort of intelligent hope about the future and not just give in. I think you’re gonna like John. I think it’s important to have someone to root for. He’s pretty pure. He’s pretty unspoiled somehow.

Garret Dillahunt as John – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

Of course, I had to ask about his signature weapon. In the trailer he see how slick he is with a gun.

Shannon: What is John’s go-to weapon?

Garret: It’s pretty clear it’s his guns. I don’t think that’s a spoiler fromm all the trailers and stuff they released. He prefers old style weapons. It’s a tricky time to be talking about guns-to be involved with guns. I think that the audience of this show might know that it might be a necessity in that kind of a world. Which is not a world that actually exists.

But I am pleased that his weapons are simple. And old fashioned. And you know, he has to be judicious with his ammunition. I think it goes back to what I was talking about that he’s kind of a creature form another time. There’s a weird sort of inherent honor in him that plays heavily into how he uses his weapons.

Shannon: You’re no stranger to popular shows, you had a role on The Gifted and on The Mindy Project. Fear already kind of had a pretty established fan base as well, How has it been joining the cast of Fear and joining a show that’s attached to such a cult following?

Garret: I’m also excited to see how that plays out. It seems for the most part that they’re fairly welcoming but they don’t know me yet. All they know is the picture, or a bit of a teaser, so they don’t really know. They’re not sure what to make of me yet. So I’m excited to see as well what happens when we finally start airing. And I hope that they accept him.

I think he fits in well. I think it’s not stretch at all to think-the Clarks could be meeting new people all the time. Some of them good, some of them bad. Some they’ll like and some of them they won’t. I think I fit in really well, I certainly like the show a lot. I have a lot of respect for it. I’m just hoping that that shines through and the fans will keep an open mind.

Shannon: I saw that you studied Journalism-I thought that was interesting because I did too. Do you kind of take anything that you learned in Journalism school that translates to your acting?

Garret: Well I do think they are similar skills in a way, writing and acting. I was a big shot on like my high school newspaper. I really loved it, I’m pretty shy. A lot of actors are shy. For some reason when someone gives you wonderful things to say you can overcome that or you can hide under the skin of somebody else. That’s why you’re probably like “Jeesh I’m having a hard time getting information out of this guy.” Because you know it’s an odd thing.

So I went to school for journalism, I kind of thought that was what I was going to do, and for whatever reason, life things-I thought well it’s hard to make a living as a journalist. I should probably write plays as well. But that’s not exactly a lucrative position either. And part of that requirement was an acting class, and I think that was just what I needed, although I was mortified and angry that we had to do that because it was not at all what I wanted to do-or liked doing.

But then I found it very beneficial for where I was in my life at that time to stand in other peoples’ shoes for a while. And I did that as much as I could-I became addicted to it. I was doing five things at once, which I still sort of do. It seems like it’s now become my habit-just to run and hide in other people.

But I just love it so much and I think the writing helps me understand structure-to understand things. I’m a really good editor of dialogue, and things like that, and I feel like I know a little something when I make a suggestion or a request about a dialogue change. I don’t know if I’m a good writer or anything like that, but I feel comfortable with structure. And I think I definitely got that from all those years writing.

Shannon: If Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead ever did merge into one, would John be friend or foe to Rick’s group?

Garret: I don’t see why they couldn’t be friends. I think they got a lot of skills that would complement each other, that’s for sure. Rick might be more of a killer. And I don’t mean that in an insulting way. I just mean he seems more experienced somehow out there in those situations-a real leader of men.

But, I think John’s a better shot. (laughs.)

I like Andrew a lot-his work. I’ve never met him. I’ve met a lot of the other guys. I never met him, but I’m a fan of the show. I would hope that they would be pals. He seems like who you’d want to align yourself with.

Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Garret Dillahunt as John, Maggie Grace as Althea – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC

We also asked Garret out of the following three, which would most apply to John:

Does not play well with others
The more the merrier
Proceed with caution

He said John is “Proceed with caution.” with a little “The More The Merrier” mixed in.

Garret has a really cool history with the world of Fear as well. He shared with us some really cool insight into his audition process. You hear of rare times when actors get lucky and don’t have to go in for the role at all-this was actually one of them. He had already known Scott Gimple, and had been in for the role of Negan on The Walking Dead and ended up not being chosen for that, but was put on hold and later called back for this role on Fear.

When he got the call, his answer was clear and an immediate, “I’m in.”

He says he’s glad this is the way things turned out. We are too, because guys-this character is good. Really good.

Be sure to catch the season 4 premiere of Fear The Walking Dead on AMC April 15th at 10 PM ET.

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Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Twitter: @shannontoo