So after spending almost two seasons trying to take out zombies, how did it feel to switch sides and play for the other team, if only for a few seconds?
I didn’t even realize that I was playing a zombie until I was playing it. There was a lot of discussion going back and forth, a lot of arguing going back and forth on what that last scene actually should be — between myself and Andy [Lincoln] and the writers. And everybody kind of got their own little say in what that last scene actually was. But then at the very end I realized, now you gotta go play a zombie! I never even thought about that. Then all of a sudden I’ve got these contacts on, I can’t see anything, and I’m a zombie. And I’m like, ”I don’t know how to do this! What do you do?”
Shane to me always seemed like a good guy who cracked under the pressure of having to make some very difficult decisions in very difficult circumstances.
There’s this constant sort of self-evaluation process that’s saying, This is what you have to do, this is the right thing to do, this is the way you need to survive in this world. But at the same time there’s this voice inside him, looking at himself, saying, Look at what you’ve become, man. What are you doing? And I think Rick [played by Lincoln] is that voice. Nobody knows this guy as well as his best friend does. Rick is really trying to communicate with that real person, that good guy who Shane once was. And the fact that Rick is able to, at the end, get the knife and kill him — I think that means that in some ways, he did really appeal to the real guy, the kernel of who Shane really is, rather than this monster that’s almost swallowed him up.
And now you get to work with former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont again, playing World War II hero-turned-LAPD cop Joe Teague on his new TNT show L.A. Noir. Tell me about that.
It’s about the struggle for the soul of America’s most seductive city. I told Frank I’d follow him anywhere. It was the honor of my career to work with him, and whatever he makes, I believe in and I’m behind. I just don’t want to screw it up.