Garret Dillahunt: Six things you didn't know about the Fear the Walking Dead star

Fear the Walking Dead season four is back on BT TV. Learn a little more about the man who plays John Dorie.

Last updated: 16 August 2018 - 2.41pm

Fear the Walking Dead is back on our screens at last after the second half of series 4 kicked off on AMC this week.

Critics have hailed the show’s fourth season for its twists, turns and shocks - which have so far included the departures of two major characters and the arrival of Lennie James, the first crossover with parent series The Walking Dead.

[Read more: What happened in the Fear the Walking Dead S4 part 2 premiere?]

As the first half of the season closed, fans were wondering whether folksy John Dorie would survive being accidentally shot by Alicia.

Fortunately, we now know that he does – and he looks like playing a major part in the continuing story of Fear the Walking Dead.  Here then are six things you may not know about the man who plays him, Garret Dillahunt.

They liked him so much on Deadwood – they cast him twice

Dillahunt's breakthrough came when he joined the cast of the hit HBO series Deadwood, playing Jack McCall, the killer of Wild Bill Hickok. The role was a finite one, lasting six episodes in the show's first season.

“On the last day, I was I was pretty sad,” says the actor. “I said to David [Milch, show creator], “This is it, huh?” And he was like, “Yeah, well, come here. I’ve been thinking about something.”

Remarkably, Milch asked Dillahunt to return in the show's second season to play a completely different character, the ruthless and violent Francis Wollcott.

“I’m not sure what was going through David’s head. It might have just been convenient. But I’d like to think he liked to work with me,” he said later.

Despite his roles, he's not from the Midwest America – or crazy

Dillahunt is often cast as throwbacks, rednecks and blue-collar characters from the South and Midwest US, but he's actually from Washington state, far up in the north-western corner of the country. He's also known for playing the odd gimlet-eyed loon, for example in Deadwood and in the 2009 horror film Last House on the Left; despite this, he started out in comedy shows.

“I had a really hard time getting an audition for anything dramatic when I was doing comedies,” he told AV Club.

“People would say, 'Oh, he’s a sitcom guy'. Then you start doing other things, and they say, 'Oh, he can’t do comedy. He’s the serial killer, or whatever else'."

He's said that Burt, the goofball character he played in the series Raising Hope (pictured below), was more like himself than anything else he'd ever played.

Martha Plimpton and Garret Dillahunt in Raising Hope.  Photo credit: 20th Century Fox TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

He was once a Terminator

Dillahunt was cast as the robot Cromartie in the Fox spin-off series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles which aired from 2008 to 2009. He particularly enjoyed the physical and stunt aspects of the show – but found the water-based stunts a little harder.

“We did the whole day in this gigantic tank – I think it's the same place they shot Titanic,” he told CW11 News. “They tied a rope to my ankle and just dragged me down to the bottom of the tank all day long – because apparently Terminators can't swim! There's a lot of pressure down there, I tell you.”

[Read more: Fear the Walking Dead season 5 confirmed]

He often selects projects based on the source material

Dillahunt makes no secret of the fact that he was a fan of The Walking Dead comic books before he was cast in Fear the Walking Dead – but admits that he is attracted to roles in adaptations of books he has enjoyed; he appeared in The Road and No Country For Old Men, both of which were based on novels by Cormac McCarthy.

“A lot of things I’m attracted to are based on books that I’m a fan of. I don’t get real nervous around most folks, but I get real girly around writers and stuff. There was Ron Hansen for Jesse James, and I’ve been a Cormac McCarthy fan since college.

"I missed All The Pretty Horses - I think I was still in college at the time - but I was determined to be in every Cormac McCarthy adaptation ever made!”

He's pretty happy playing a cowboy type

Dillahunt is never more comfortable than when playing a character from the old West. “I remember when Deadwood came around, I was very excited... so I got an audition for the doctor (character), which I was very annoyed about, because I thought, 'all these years of waiting to be in a cowboy thing, and I’m going to play the town doc? I wanna ride a horse! I want a gun!'"

Garret Dillahunt in HBO's Deadwood.  Photo credit: HBO/Roscoe Prods./Kobal/REX/Shutterstock

Though he ended up playing a different character – the cowboy-type roles have continued, including those in The Assassination of Jesse James alongside Brad Pitt, and the FX series Justified. Of his character John in Fear the Walking Dead, Dillahunt told “He’s got cowboy tendencies – he IS a real cowboy even, he likes his six guns, is good with them."

[Read more: Fear the Walking Dead - the story so far]

He wants to cross over to The Walking Dead

Dillahunt told that he 'lobbied' Scott Gimple, executive producer on The Walking Dead, to play the role of Negan, and while it came to nothing: “I think he remembered me and sort of wrote it with me in mind… and it was an easy sell!”

Now Lennie James has joined the cast as Morgan Jones, we asked Garret if he would like to make the switch the other way – and got an emphatic response: “Oh, yeah! I’m hoping to be so good that that's a desired thing. I’m hoping they’ll ask me, 'will you please go over and kill Negan?' And I’ll say 'sure!'”

Watch Fear the W​alking Dead on AMC - BT TV channel number 332/381 HD on BT TV.

Sky customers wi​th the BT Sport Pack can watch Sky channel 192.

BT TV customers can ​watch the show on catch-up on the BT Player and BT TV App.

AMC is home of TV​ dramas including The Terror, Snatch, Into the Badlands and Preacher.

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