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'Walking Dead' star Josh McDermitt talks Eugene

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Gene Page/AMC

Get that gun out of your pants, Eugene! Quicker! No, you were too slow and you just got decked by Nicholas. Oh well. So Eugene is not exactly the quickest draw in the zombie apocalypse, but he otherwise stepped up in a big way in the latest Walking Dead episode by saving Tara and Glenn (2 out of 3, ain’t bad—sorry, Noah). We chatted with the man who plays Eugene, Josh McDermitt, when he stopped by Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) to get the scoop on all things mullet. Oh, and we conducted the entire interview while flying around Manhattan in a hot air balloon. Don’t believe me? Just listen to audio clip at the end of this article as we go up, up, and away while Josh discusses whether a hot air balloon makes for a viable escape route from flesh-eating zombies.

EW: This was a big episode for Eugene that we saw on Sunday because he actually showed something resembling guts and courage for a change.

JOSH McDERMITT: Yeah, his balls dropped, which was great. A lot of the fans after episode 5 where he admitted to not having the cure were like, “I hate Eugene! Screw him! What a jerk for lying!” And this whole time I’ve been like, oh, if you guys could wait for episode 14 when Eugene grows a pair and steps up, saves Glenn, saves Tara. Unfortunately, we lost Noah. But this is an exciting time for Eugene.

We haven’t seen much of Eugene in Alexandria yet. What is his take on this place?

Eugene finds a lot of safety and comfort being behind the walls. That’s all he ever wanted in this new apocalyptic life is just to be safe. That’s why he lied about having the cure, to gain protection from Abraham and Rosita, and that’s why now he doesn’t want to leave the safety of Alexandria. It could be a paradise for some people, especially for Eugene. It’s a place where he has safety. And the reason we haven’t seen a lot of him is because I want to believe that he found DVDs of Game Of Thrones and he’s just trying to get caught up.

As much as Eugene stepped up in this episode, dude, he was still a little slow on the draw with pulling out that gun.

Hey! If I can defend him for a little bit, he has like a six-foot silencer on that thing. He’s trying to pull it out of the holster and it’s just getting caught. The really cool thing is that he really stepped up in that moment and decided once he saw that Nicholas was trying to pull a fast one, that Eugene shuts the engine off on the van, he gets out, and he realizes okay, this guy is trying to screw us over and I’m not going to let that happen. It’s such a great moment for Eugene, after he’s already stepped up as a hero. I’m hoping this is going to be a pattern in his life because I do think you need to do that to survive. You can’t just hide in the back of Alexandria behind the walls because that’s how you become people like Aiden and Nicholas where you just ditch people to survive on your own. You need to step up and pull your weight. But him pulling that gun out was ridiculous. He got his butt kicked and thrown to the ground. Did Steven talk to you about actually punching the actor?


Oh, this was awesome. So in that scene where Nicholas throws Eugene to the ground, I’m literally lying right next to Michael Traynor who plays Nicholas and we’re just doing the rehearsal and Steven comes in. And Steven is, like, hot, and ready to go. And he takes the first punch and just connects right with his jaw. It made my stomach hurt because I was literally like a foot-and-a-half from that. And they were like, “Whoa, Whoa, this is just a rehearsal!” Not even just a rehearsal, you’re just never supposed to connect with someone. But Steven was just so embarrassed and “I’m so sorry.” And you see Michael’s face starting to swell up and they had to ice pack it down and everything, It was so sad, It was like, “Welcome to the show, let me beat the crap out of you.” But Michael is a tough dude. He’s a lot of fun to work with and I know Steven felt really bad. But that’s not the first time. That stuff happens all the time. I heard stories like Michael Rooker, who played Merle, would clock people all the time.

Well, he’s Michael Rooker. I asked Alanna Masterson this the other day because she was knocked out for most of the last episode and I wondered, do you ever fall asleep when you’re filming? She said that actually during the scene in the barn where a bunch of you were sleeping that people fell asleep. Have you ever fallen asleep while filming?

Absolutely. Like, several times, including that barn scene. I fell asleep, and then I kind of woke up to Seth Gilliam, who plays Gabriel, snoring. He was snoring. So Andy and all of them are trying to do their scene from the other side of the barn and we just hear snoring. And everyone thought it was me because I’m a fat guy so obviously I would snore, right? But I was like, “It wasn’t me!” And we all look at Seth and he’s still snoring. And we were just laughing so hard. But I think that happens a lot: It’s exhausting, it’s hot, we’re tired, we’re worn out, and the moment you have to do a really quiet scene, you just want to start sleeping and …[starts snoring]. I did it last season when we were in that train tunnel. I don’t think you even saw me in the scene. I was just tucked away in the back and I laid on my back and I was out in like 5 seconds.

What can you say about what’s coming in these last two episodes?

We’re in a great place right now with a few of the characters. Rick and Carol are determined to kill this guy Pete. It’s going to be really interesting to find out what Deanna does when she finds out that her son Aiden died. Even though she kind of thought he was a prick and he was, you’re still losing a son and that’s not good. Eugene has this newfound courage and confidence. The one thing we haven’t seen—Eugene and Abraham have not spoken since the big debacle in episode 5 and hopefully we get to see some sort of reunion there.

Check out our hot air balloon ride with Josh McDermitt by clicking on the SoundCloud below. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.