Josh McDermitt confirms that Eugene is a virgin on The Walking Dead
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead, "Archeron Part II".
On The Walking Dead, Eugene is a world-class liar. Just ask Abraham Ford, who was falsely led to believe that the mulleted wonder was a scientist with the knowledge to end the zombie apocalypse. Eugene's skills at deception in the name of self-preservation came in handy once again in Sunday's episode, "Archeron Part II," when his group's fate rested in his hands after Commonwealth army leader Mercer demanded that Eugene answer his questions honestly, warning, "If you lie, I'll know."
In a lengthy and tearful response, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) managed to blend fact and fiction into a response that seemingly convinced Mercer (Michael James Shaw), who then admitted the group into the Commonwealth. But while nothing may have stood out to the interrogator in that scene, it certainly stood out to viewers when Eugene described himself as a virgin. So, was that true? Is Eugene indeed a virgin?
"That is absolutely true," Mc Dermitt confirms to EW. "Yeah."
Okay, but before we enter that as canon, what about the scene that was apparently shot yet never aired back in season 8 of Eugene and Savior Laura (Lindsley Register) having relations once it appeared the Sanctuary was about to fall? "We shot it," says McDermitt, who also reveals that it led to a bigger conversation about Eugene's sexual status.
"I remember saying to [Walking Dead chief content officer] Scott Gimple, 'Man, this is like a huge deal for Eugene. I think he's a virgin," McDermitt recalls. "And Gimple said, 'No, he's not a virgin.' And I was like, 'Scott, he's a virgin!' And I don't know if that conversation changed things, but I'm glad it did, because then we got this beautiful moment here in season 11."
McDermitt also notes for the record that "the sex scene with Laura was more of an aftermath thing with Lindsley. So it wasn't anything scandalous or whatever, but yeah, I'm glad that didn't make it to air. I don't know why it was edited out. I don't care. It gave us a better moment, in my opinion, for this."
We spoke to the actor to get the inside scoop on Eugene's big speech and how a moment with the man who plays Mercer helped break the ice and calm the nerves before filming on the pivotal moment began.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Eugene doesn't know where any of his friends are, and he goes into this room with Mercer, and Mercer gives him this ultimatum that he knows he's lying and if he gives him two honest answers to where their settlement is and why they were at the train station, he can see his friends and everything will be fine. So what's going through Eugene's mind when he hears that from Mercer and knows it's all riding on what he's about to say next?
JOSH McDERMITT: His friends have been split off. He doesn't know what's happened to them. And that anxiety-ridden place that he's been living in in his mind is just getting to be too much. And he's unspooling at this point. But Eugene does well with people who are in positions of authority. Look at Abraham and Negan. It's like he sees Mercer as the new alpha male for him that he's going to then become the beta and survive. It's like he has this muscle memory of, just do whatever I can to survive. And he kind of spins this yarn. He gives just enough truth so that Mercer is satisfied, but holds back on other parts.
And really, lying is Eugene's superpower. And he's able to do that so well and just get them to clear those hurdles and get to the other side. That's all he wants to do, is survive. And you see this moment where he is nervous — I think there's a shot of him shaking under the table — and then there's that moment of like, "I'm going to calm down, I'm in control. I have this. The ball is in my court," to use a sports reference that Eugene probably doesn't get because he's not athletic. But he just kind of calms his hands. And then he's able to just say what he needs to say, give them enough truth without giving the full truth and hope that works. It's the first time we've seen him calm in several episodes within that moment that he was lying about everything. I mean, he did tell him the truth, but it wasn't the whole truth.
The Eugene-vs.-Mercer of it all is a great confrontation. Because we know Eugene's history with the Abraham lie, knowing that he can lie really well, but then we have this other guy on the other side of the table saying, "I'll know if you do it." It's almost like an Old West showdown in a way. But it's also really interesting because Eugene is such a nervous Nellie, and usually that does not translate to being such an amazing liar. You said he's calm, but he's also at the same time keeping up the act of the nervousness and the shaking and the sweating while he goes through the lie.
Absolutely. That's all a part of it and why lying is his superpower. He knows what he has to do to convince someone of something. Eugene probably has his idea of like, "Well, this guy was a cop or some sort of like authority figure before." So he knows how to talk to people like that and play them — the marionette sort of thing. And yeah, he's very nervous outwardly. But inside, he's able to kind of breathe calmly and think through everything he needs to say to this guy in order to get to the other side.
What's it like for you when you have to film a scene like that? It's a big scene. You've got a big speech there, a lot riding on it. What do you remember about being on set for that?
Each one is different. Sometimes I have a really hard time remembering the lines with Eugene, because there are scientific words thrown in. He has riddles, he speaks with a lot of alliteration, and that sort of thing. And I have a hard time with it. And then I get my hands on an episode that Jim Barnes and Angela King wrote, and they write Eugene's dialogue extremely well. It was super-simple, but I still showed up on set and I was nervous. We were shooting episodes 1 and 2 at the same time, so I don't remember exactly when this fell in the schedule, but it was early on. And I just remember thinking like, "Oh crap, I haven't done this in a while." And I was hoping that I wouldn't s--- the bed.
I'm working with Michael James Shaw, who plays Mercer, for the first time really. And he's sitting across from me, and I was just like, "Okay, here we go. Oh my God. This guy is going to think I'm a joke. And he's going to regret signing on to do the show." Mike is just sitting there with this really intense look he gives Mercer. And then right before we rolled, he just stuck his fist out to give me a fist bump. And I was like, that's just all I needed to kind of chill out and calm down.
And we had a great time. We only did a few takes of it, and it was great. And working with Mike, he just gave me so much with his physical demeanor and everything he was doing on the other side of the camera that it actually made things really easy. So to not really have acted in a long time because of everything shutting down to then all of a sudden going to this long monologue with all this crazy stuff going on was intimidating. But it turned out to be one of the more pleasant and easy things to do. And I think a lot of that was because of Michael.
We finally get to see, and not just hear, Stephanie at the very end. What can you say about that meetup and Eugene's journey moving forward?
The goal, or one part of it, was to finally meet this person that he feels a connection with on the radio. And he's kind of taking in all his surroundings. It's very surreal. They're very well-organized in the Commonwealth, and he sees that. And I think right now his emotions are reinforcing that he's made the right decision to take this journey with the others. So I definitely think that they're hopeful about what's to come for the group. But then also to build upon this relationship with this person from the radio, I think that's really exciting for him. He's always been pining for someone's love, and now he's on the verge of being in love. That's an exciting place for this guy.
- Norman Reedus says Daryl punched Negan to save him on The Walking Dead
- The Walking Dead star Lauren Cohan calls Negan's mention of Glenn 'disgusting'
- Jeffrey Dean Morgan fought against saying that Glenn line on The Walking Dead
- The Walking Dead showrunner on that shocking cliffhanger
- Lauren Cohan weighs in on if Maggie should kill Negan on The Walking Dead
AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.