[Interview] Dallas Roberts On The Scope Of “The Walking Dead” And The Mazzara/Gimple Showrunner Switch

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Airing tomorrow. Sunday, March 31 is the season finale of The Walking Dead, episode 316 “Welcome to the Tombs.” I figured this would be as good of an occasion as any to post my interview with star Dallas Roberts who plays Milton Mamet on the show. We talked about the longterm effects of being on “The Walking Dead” and how the cast reacted to switching showrunners from Glen Mazzara to Scott Gimple for the upcoming fourth season.

In the ongoing third season, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his fellow survivors continue to seek refuge in a desolate and post-apocalyptic world and soon discover that there are greater forces to fear than just the walking dead. The struggle to survive has never been so perilous. Season 3 also introduced new characters, including the Governor (David Morrissey) and fan-favorite Michonne (Danai Gurira), along with her zombie pets.

The show was recently renewed for its fourth season. Head inside to see if Roberts can talk about it!

The show has such a big scope, does it feel like you’re just shooting a movie for a year?

I’ve done other TV and the genius of long form television is that the stories evolve over a much longer period of time. And with a show like “The Walking Dead” you can have really long 16 hour stories and when stuff gets too slow you can just punctuate it with a zombie coming through the window. It feels like shooting a movie over a long period of time except you don’t know what the ending is going to be. With film you have a beginning, middle and end. And with TV they just keep giving you pages every two weeks or so.

So you’re kept in the dark on the season arc?

Yeah, sort of like it is for the viewer. The last few days of shooting one episode you get the script for the other.

Being on this show for a certain period of time, do you start to view humanity through a different lens?

You know, it’s funny. Allegorically speaking, there’s how we treat each other and what we consider foreign or enemy and how that can change depending on the situation. When I first got the job I went back and watched all of Season 1 and Season 2 in about 28 straight hours, and when I walked back out onto the street I had a real sense of shifting – my brain was still in that world. I kept sensing danger, even though I was in New York [so I suppose] there was – but not the zombie kind.

What’s your take on the showrunner situation? You worked with Glen Mazzara and now you have Scott Gimple coming in.

I’ve lived through it a couple of times [in his TV career]. I wasn’t around for the Darabont era but I was around for the middle and end of the Mazzara era. I was also on a show called “Rubicon” where we shot the pilot and the creator/showrunner left that. So it can feel cataclysmic. It felt weird on “The Walking Dead. It’s like if Derek Jeter goes out and Alex Rodriguez moves from shortstop to 3rd. It does shift the dynamic. You’re also dealing with “creative” types so almost anything will send us into a tizzy.

Anything you can share bout Season 4?

They’re so tightlipped. I can tell you there will be a Season 4.

So I’m suspecting you live through Season 3 then?

[laughs]