Interview: The Walking Dead's McDermitt, Hamilton, Robins, & Rapp-Olsson on the Commonwealth

The Walking DeadAt the end of the most recent episode of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) came to Alexandria with Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) and some soldiers to sell them on the idea of the Commonwealth, although it wasn’t his decision. “I think Eugene definitely didn't want to share the location of his group, otherwise he would have done that up front,” said McDermitt to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision during a recent roundtable interview. “That's a valuable piece of information. It potentially puts lives at risk when you start sharing that, but he found himself in a pickle.”

McDermitt also said that he is still carrying the guilt of that and talked to the site about what it could mean. “There're all these things that are happening, and so in this extreme emotional state, he's questioning whether he's able to trust what he's doing and saying, and the people around him. So, to offer up that information, it's just touching on some of those things that he's already having anxiety about. It's like, ‘Oh, boy, I just did this because I had to, but is now more bad going to come from this?’ Because, as we see on this show, any decision has extreme consequences.”

Josh McDermittThe actor did say to the site that his character is ready to settle down. “I think Eugene just wants to settle into what his life is going to be for the rest of his life,” said McDermitt, “and if that's in the Commonwealth, great. It's like, ‘I just want to do that. I want to leave the game behind,’ and he just found himself in a spot where it's like, ‘Great, I have to give up this information.’ So, I don't think that he was happy about that, but I do think he's definitely trying to settle into what his life is at the Commonwealth.”

According to Hamilton, who was also at the roundtable, the Commonwealth is a community unlike anything the characters have experienced before. “It's much more advanced,” said the actor. “In terms of the communities we've seen, it's the most built up and societally more structured and organized and all the pros and cons that come with that…Eventually they [have] to deal with a kind of bureaucracy that they have not had to deal with before. which in some ways can be even, I think, trickier than thugs in the woods where you really know what you're dealing with.”

Teo Rapp-OlsenTeo Rapp-Ollson, who plays Sebastian Milton, son of Commonwealth leader Pamela Milton, added that we’ve never seen this scale before when dealing with technology on the series. “I think we're going to run up against a lot of things that even in previous instances where they have had to fight new foes, a lot of times they're running on the same kind of equipment…but this is a nation-state versus just other small collectives,” said Rapp-Ollson.

McDermitt agreed that although in Alexandria they had been doing well at one point, it was nothing compared to the Commonwealth, and he also talked about some of the tension that fans will see. “The world is crashing down around everyone, and some are responding better than others to that,” said the actor. “It'll be interesting to see who is able to help pick up pieces and figure out how to move forward in that and the fact is that lives are hanging in the balance with each decision that's being made and it affects not just people around you immediately, but layers and layers and layers and outward.”

Laila RobinsThe new location also means dealing with those in charge, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for them, either. Laila Robins, who plays the part of Pamela Milton, explained a bit about the Milton family. “We come from a long line of very powerful political figures and are almost old American royalty,” said Robins, “That's a legacy that is a wonderful thing but also a burden, and generation to generation, how do you disagree or agree with your legacy? How do you navigate it in the way that you find most appropriate? How do you change or bend to the times and the people that you're dealing with as far as how you lead them properly?”

Robins added that Milton is altruistic and believes they can trust each other as long as everyone follows the same rules.

Rapp-Ollson added that we’ve seen politics on a small scale before, but never in this scope. “I think when you reach a point where you no longer have to just worry about the day-to-day survival and now you worry on a larger scale, that's when political ambition can come into play, which in almost some sense is a luxury, which obviously we see a lot of in this society. You have people that can spend their entire time prepping Machiavellian strategies and not having to worry about a walker right behind them.”

Josh HamiltonHamilton said that ultimately, it’s about trust and hope. “Obviously, the eternal goal is trying to find hope. I think we see this collective as that ultimately, truly, this is hopefully the end game. We can finally come up with a place where people don't even have to really interact with zombies anymore. They can be so protected by an actual military…So, we see that, I think, throughout the entire season is this is what we're all praying is the final stage, but then comes in trust. Is it in the right hands? Is it being run properly, and can this be the final stage or have we not reached it yet?”

McDermitt added, however, even if you trust a character, it doesn’t mean you always will. “I think you have to continually prove your loyalty,” said McDermitt. “These characters had to prove their loyalty with each other, because it's kill or be killed. You obviously have your group with you, your tight knit group that you're going to trust, and you're constantly looking for that hope, and things are so dire most of the time that it's just like [you] feel like giving up, but someone's always there to say ‘No, we have to keep pushing forward.’ But then you meet someone new, and it's like, ‘Okay, you've earned my trust, but that trust isn't always going to be there.’ I think that's just the state of this world is that people will break that trust if it serves them and benefits them, so I think it's almost like a razor's edge where it could go either way at any time.”

Be sure to watch all-new episodes of The Walking Dead, Sundays on AMC and AMC+.

Latest Articles