The Walking Dead returns next month and SheKnows spoke exclusively with Josh McDermitt about the leadership role that Eugene will take next season, including how he could bring hope to the group and maybe, just maybe, learn how to fight some zombies himself.
If you’ve seen the extended Comic-Con trailer, then you know that the show will pick up right where it left off at the end of Season 4. Rick and his group were reunited, but they were also trapped in a railroad car and it’s anyone’s guess what their hosts have in store for them.
Another thing learned from the preview is that the group will be sent out on a mission: Go to Washington and find the cure. The mission will put Eugene into a position as a sort of leader, which will also put a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. The news of Eugene’s situation made McDermitt very happy when he found out before the season began.
“It’s a really exciting thing for Eugene to kind of have the hope and the destiny rest on his shoulders like that,” McDermitt revealed. “I had meetings with the producers at the beginning of the season so I knew a lot of this was coming. It’s fun to be the guy so pivotal within that group to provide the hope for these people that have just been pushed to the limits.”
Eugene has always said he has the answer to the virus and claims he can end the zombie nightmare once and for all. Leading the group to Washington will have them feeling something they haven’t for a long while.
“They’re in a place within themselves that they’ve never been before,” McDermitt said about Eugene’s companions. “Here [they] are, looking at a hopeful outcome and that’s really exciting, to be such a major part of the plot and where the season is headed.”
Don’t expect Eugene to get a big head about his new role. “For Eugene, it’s business as usual because his whole goal all along has been to get to Washington,” McDermitt said.
Fans will also learn a bit more about Eugene this season and the man who has sworn to protect him. “We’re going to jump into [Eugene’s] backstory a little bit more this season. We’re going to learn a little more about Abraham, as well,” McDermitt revealed. “We’re going to look at their relationship and see how the journey that they’ve taken has led them to where they are now, which is in this train car. It’s going to be fun.
“I think people are going to embrace these characters even more after they learn more about them,” he added.
One thing Eugene probably won’t do is become an expert walker killer like the rest of his friends. “Eugene doesn’t like to exert physical energy. He likes to let people do his fighting for him,” McDermitt said with a laugh. “And that’s good. There’s a reason he has Abraham protecting him and Rosita protecting him, because he can’t fight the zombies. He wouldn’t be good on his own.”
Would Eugene fight if he were given some lessons? “It would be awesome if Michonne could get together with him and teach him how to use a sword or something,” McDermitt said, adding that it could get dangerous. “He might cut off his mullet, though.”
Oh, no! We can’t have that. The fandom would implode if Eugene lost his mullet.
In addition to the mega mullet, of course, McDermitt revealed that there are other aspects of Eugene’s character that he enjoys.
“He’s kind of socially awkward, so for me, it’s great because I get to observe a lot. I get to observe other people and kind of watch how they work instead of being so engaged with dialogue that I end up missing a lot of what’s going on in the scene. So it’s kind of cool for me, as an actor, to just kind of sit there and take in what’s going on within the scene and react accordingly with how the character would react. It’s been amazing. It’s been a lot of fun to do that,” McDermitt said, adding that “it’s always fun to kind of play a weirdo.”
Weirdo or not, fans love Eugene and it will definitely be interesting to see him take control of the group next season. The jury is still out on whether Eugene actually has the knowledge to stop the zombie apocalypse, but regardless of whether that happens, it sounds like the group is in for another terrifying adventure this season.
The Walking Dead Season 5 premieres on Sunday, Oct. 12, at 9 p.m. on AMC.