SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s “Good Out Here” episode of Fear the Walking Dead.
Season 4 of Fear the Walking Dead has been full of big changes both in front of and behind the camera. A slew of new actors (Maggie Grace, Garret Dillahunt, Jenna Elfman, Kevin Zeggers) joined the show on screen. Lennie James’ Morgan crossed over from The Walking Dead. And Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss replaced Dave Erickson as showrunners while Scott M. Gimple also came aboard to oversee the entire operation.
But the biggest change of all may have happened on Sunday’s “Good One Here” episode. That’s because one of the few remaining original characters was killed off when Frank Dillane’s Nick was shot in the chest by pint-sized super-spy Charlie of the Vultures. But killing off Nick was not a decision made by the new showrunners. Rather, it was a plea from Dillane himself that led to the shocker.
We spoke to Dillane to get his reasons for asking off the show, some behind-the-scenes intel on shooting his big death scene, opinions on which Nick he liked the best, and thoughts on saying goodbye to the rest of the cast. (Also check out our Q&A with the showrunners.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, the new showrunners Ian and Andrew mentioned this all came about because you asked to leave the show. What was it that led to that decision on your part?
FRANK DILLANE: I had been doing it for three or four years, the show has undergone many changes in terms of different people in charge, all of this stuff, and I just felt like the beginning of this season kind of felt like the end of an era with this show. And television is hard work, and you have to shoot a lot. I also missed Europe very much. I’m not American, so after a while I get quite homesick and all of those things. I also felt like we had achieved what needed to be achieved in the first few seasons, so I thought it was time to keep moving.
Was it also the desire for a new challenge because you had been doing this for a few years?
Exactly. That was very much it as well. I had been playing Nick for four years and I was ready to play some different characters.
How do you feel about the way Nick went out and what Scott, Ian, and Andrew came up with?
Beautiful. I really loved the ending. I thought the character Charlie was great and a lovely death scene. I was very happy with it.
What was shooting your death scene like? Was it emotional for you and other people on set?
The big scenes that are very gut-wrenching to watch are often the most boring to film, so, for me, I think it was very early in the morning and it was very cold. It was 4 a.m., I think. I wasn’t in that good of a mood. I think everyone else was quite emotional. For me, I’m not very good with my emotions, so I think I probably was feeling it in a different way. I’m not very emotionally intelligent, so I was in a bad mood if I remember correctly.
But having now heard and having some reception back from people, and the more I think about Nick and his arc and his death, I had a little cry yesterday, funnily enough. [Laughs] It takes me a while before stuff sinks in. I’m certainly going to miss Nick.
How collaborative was it coming up with the story of how Nick would die? Were you involved in giving them feedback in how you would like to see his journey end or did you leave that in their hands?
I always wanted Nick’s death to be something like he slips on a banana skin and hits his head or something falls of a roof and juts knocks him out and kills him, or something not dramatic, but they never went with that. Ian and Andrew are really great writers. I trust them very much and I think what they’re doing and what they did was really good.
Let’s play “What If?” Morgan has just handed Nick that book The Art of Peace. If Charlie doesn’t go and shoot him what do you think the future holds for Nick? Does he become receptive to this “all life is precious” philosophy because he’s a guy that does like to latch on to things, as we saw with Celia back in season 2?
Yeah, probably. He’d be good in a cult, Nick. I think he probably would have latched on and him and Morgan would have probably gone like a house on fire. But, alas, I get shot in the stomach instead.
You’re not done on the show quite yet though, right? Because Nick is still obviously alive and around in this past timeline so there is at least a bit more to come there before you’re off the show for good.
Yes, absolutely. I think what Ian and Andrew are doing is really, really interesting in playing with time like that. I actually haven’t watched anything so far. It’s a bit sad to watch stuff but reading the scripts, it’s quite interesting to have a character who has died but is still around, so I wonder how that will be.
We’ve seen Nick at a bunch of different stages over the 4 seasons, almost shifting from one extreme to another. What was your favorite arc or version of Nick to play?
I liked Nick season 1. I think season 1 Nick as the most interesting as an actor to play. The longer it went on, the more the rules of the apocalypse were established and we take things for granted and Nick gets clean so it’s a lot easier. I remember in season 1 it was such a weird show. First of all, playing a junkie you had so much work to do and so much stuff to get into, and so much drugs to take. And then obviously as the apocalypse happens, everything becomes normalized and the stakes aren’t as high and there’s another dead person and there’s another dead person. I kind of miss that initial horror of the whole thing. ‘Cause once it went on, everyone becomes accustomed to it. Also, television, we shoot so much. It’s long.
We know you’ll be leaving the show in full soon enough. What was it like saying goodbye to the cast and crew? I know it’s a lot of new crew because you all have moved on filming so much between three different countries, but what was that like?
Mixed emotions, always. Very sad to go, but I’ll stay in touch with them. They’re just people and friends now rather than work associates. So I have no doubt the actors will stay in touch. As you said, the crew changed so much that by the time I finished this season a lot of the crew were quite new to me since we moved locations. But I will certainly miss everyone.
Also make sure to read our episode Q&A with showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss. And for more Fear the Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.