Dallas Roberts aka Milton from The Walking Dead Interview Transcript
TWS: We are joined today by Walking Dead actor, Dallas Roberts, who plays Milton on the Walking Dead. Dallas, thank you so much for joining us today. We’re really excited to have you.
DALLAS: Oh, thanks so much for having me.
TWS: Yeah. Alright, we’ve got some, we’ve got a lot of questions for you. We’ve got some fan questions ( who we’re going to call and let them talk to you). I know they’re revved up and ready to go. So, we’re gonna go ahead and hog the time in the beginning and ask you some questions we’ve been wondering about.
Ummm, first of all, this is an easy one. So how did you get to be on the Walking Dead? How did you find your way to become Milton?
DALLAS: Uh, they sent me, uhhh, you know, an audition. My agent sent me an audition for the Walking Dead. That audition was a couple pages of dialogue. His name wasn’t Milton. There was a man and a woman talking and her name wasn’t anyone that you could recognize from the show. Um, and they were talking about…gosh, I don’t remember, I think they were talking about swimming pools and power generators….at any rate, it turned out to be a completely fake scene from the show. Or from not the show. It never, you know, we never shot that scene.
So, I, you know, worked on it a bit to set up the video camera in the house and my girlfriend read with me and I sent the tape off and um, a couple of weeks later they called back and said we want you to, you know, come down and chase zombies, or chase Walkers(as it is) and, you know, I jumped at the chance.
TWS: Yah, we’ve had quite of few of the actors say they were given these fake characters and then, some of them, when they actually get there, literally, on set, are handed a script and find out, not too long before the shoot, that they are playing somebody completely different.
Did you have kind of the same experience? Or were you given a little bit more of a heads up? Given how big your character is?
DALLAS: Yeah, he wasn’t, he wasn’t totally different than the guy I read for. Um, but I did experience that with some people who were on the show, who had come on the show for a week, or something like that.
They would say, like, “Did they cut that scene where I had that big monologue?”
And I was like, ” I don’t know, I never saw that scene.”
So,…(chuckles)…in that case, there were times…when, you know, when they would sort of have people…. they wanted to see what you could do, but then, as it turns out, they were actually having you do something quite different. That’s sort of, you know, I sort of spoke to the writers about that and I was like “I’m not sure if that’s so fair.”
TWS: Well, Eric and I agree that Milton is, right now, the most mysterious character on the show. Because we don’t have a really big back story on him. And we really don’t know what, completely, motivates Milton.
What can you tell us that might give us some greater insight as to who Milton is?
DALLAS: You know, it’s true. They don’t, they don’t take a whole lot of time, sort of, going back to Milton’s apartment and ah, having him, sort of, write in his diary. You know what I mean? He does tend to exist in the lab and, sort of, on the streets of Woodbury.
I think, you know Milton has been with the governor for a long, long time. Since before the town was founded (if you can call it founded). You know, when it was just, when we were survivors, like Rick and Darryl and the group that we have come to know and love. You know, we’ve been together that long, as well.
So, he has… we have managed to set up a perimeter to run him hot water and electricity and stuff and that provides the space for Milton to flourish. He’s allowed then to do some research and he’s allowed to try get closer to what’s happening and what he can, sort of, do about it.
I think he’s motivated to keep Woodbury going and I think he is motivated to try and come up with some kind of way of dealing with this outbreak that still has so many question marks.
TWS: Yeah. Well, I think he is the most proper character on the show.
You know, you said in your interview that when you, you know, were in high school (in your real life), you wore a bow tie and that you’ve been able to take some inspiration in that (I read that in your AMC TV recent interview).
I’m just curious, you brought a lot of that into his character and then the show writers molded him, even further, as they saw you act him out.
Are you satisfied, so far, of what we’ve seen of Milton? Or are we going to get into more of Milton’s back story? Are we going to see him brewing more tea and, you know? Give us a little a little bit of insight about what we might see the rest of the season.
DALLAS: Yeah, you know, the cool thing about Milton, specifically, and also just characters on long form things like a television show….In a film, I would have to sort of introduce myself. Do something. Experience some conflict. Overcome the conflict and win or lose. Or change or not or whatever, all in two hours. But in the Walking Dead or any other serialized television like that or just like the graphic novels, you get a much, sort of, longer, sort of period of time to come to know someone.
I think Milton, he’s got some tricks up his sleeve, for sure. But, also, you know, I don’t think you’re suddenly going to be, sorta shocked by, you know, Milton, I think will just slowly reveal himself. Now, he’s very loyal to the governor and he’s been impressed by, sort of, Andrea. After, initially, sort of, being dismissive of her. And she, uh, and the governor are, sort of, at cross purposes, or not. Or are just trying to, sort of, live with each other’s different desires and Milton is just kind of stuck in the middle there. So, that’s been really interesting to sort of play with.
TWS: Yeah, I’ve got this feeling…at least, from you character(and I don’t know if everybody agrees with me). I kind of see a potential of ( ). I don’t know how familiar you are with Lost, but…
DALLAS: I am entirely familiar with Lost.
TWS: Yeah. Well, we are huge Lost fans. I mean ( ) did an excellent job and for some reason, your character takes me back to (B). In that, you can quietly manipulate a situation and that is how I see it.
I have this great crackpot theory that at the end of the day, that Milton decides the fate of the governor of Woodbury. That is how I ultimately see this thing playing out, but,…um…I don’t want to ask you a question that is going to get you in trouble or spoil anything, but, that’s how I see your character.
DALLAS: There’s no questions that can get me in trouble. There’s only answers.
TWS: Right (laughs) That’s exactly right. No, I mean, do you, at all equate your character to a Ben Linus? That quiet manipulator.
DALLAS: I certainly think that Milton has the possibility of, um…You know, he’s a very intelligent guy. He doesn’t have the sort of, people skills as Ben Linus. He’s sort of as afraid of real people as he is of undead people. So, that might be more difficult. But, I certainly see that, uh, Milton has a moral sensor and he has great intelligence and I certainly think he is capable of something like that.
TWS: Well, although, everything he has done has not turned out so well, has it?
DALLAS: Literally, you know, if you go back, every idea he has is, either, turned down by the powers or just completely fails. He keeps, sort of, putting his best foot forward and then, getting it, sort of, shot off, as the case might be. It’s endearing to me, as a character.
TWS: Yes. We are feeling for Milton. We want him to succeed.
DALLAS: Exactly, yeah.
TWS: So you are playing that very well.
Alright, tell me. I’m very interested in behind the scenes. I understand there is a little bit of a rivalry between the Woodbury group-the actors that play in Woodbury and the prison group actors.
Tell me some of the fun, funny things that go on behind the scenes and how deep is the rivalry going on between, uh, between you guys.
DALLAS: You know, it’s funny, because of the discreetness of the locations, um, behind the scenes there tends to be, like prison days and then Woodbury days. And because of that, you know, I showed up in early April and, um…started work on the Walking Dead and I think it was episode 8 before I finally met ( ). I mean, that is how distant and separate those worlds are, so, Andrea, who crosses in between those worlds, had been part of the show since it’s conception. She was feeling that distance from them and they from her. So, they would start to, sort of, scribble notes to each other on the dressing room mirror, or the make up mirror. So, you’d come in and there would be a message like: Andrea(Laurie would write), Woodbury rules. Prison group rules. Were gonna come kill you.
You know like: The governor’s nothing and that sort of thing. So, that’s been fun, but it does show how literally, literally how it is so separate. It almost feels like two television shows or two different productions. It really sort of is cloistered off.
TWS: Well, speaking of Andrea and of Laurie, um there was this carving scene that we watched this last weekend and even after you watch the show for 3 seasons and you have kind of become accustomed to, or desensitized to gore, that is still definitely one of those scenes, where, when it happens, you definitely let out an “Aughh!”. You know, one of those.
DALLAS: (laughs) Yeah.
TWS: What was that like as an actor filming a scene like that? How long did it take to film that scene? Give us some insight into that one.
DALLAS: That was, that was the first day that I felt that I was on the Walking Dead that I thought I was going to be on when I got the job. I was out in the woods with a Walker and there was, sort of, blood and that sort of thing.
That was like, wow, okay. We’re here, finally.
That, you know, it takes a long, long time to do a scene like that. You are dealing with an actual human being with, sort of, great special effects make up on. You’re dealing with prop sort of puppets. With sort of, live, tubes of fake blood that you can take an actual ax and chop into. Then the melding of that all together. You know, a sort of skull with real teeth that are, sort of, pushed into the jaw. There are real rocks sometimes and fake rocks sometimes. Real heads sometimes and a fake head.
I found that, for awhile, there was a real person under me and then there was just a mannequin. It’s not a mannequin, it’s a marvel of technology. But, well, not a person under me, but I found, sort of half way through that day that I would, sort of get up gingerly off of this puppet, because, well, you know, I considered it to be alive and I, um, didn’t want to hurt it.
Even though, we were chopping it’s arms off and kicking it’s teeth in.
But, it’s funny. When they finally got to, sort of, the close up of that curb stop- American History X moment, um, I was just watching in the monitor and one of the producer’s just wouldn’t watch. She just walked off.
She was like, “I can’t.”
And I was like, “Are you kidding me? You produce the Walking Dead and you’re not going to watch it?”
She was like, “I just can’t. I can’t watch it.”.
TWS: That’s crazy. That’s crazy.
TWS: Alright, one final question before we move into calling some fans up.
DALLAS: Excuse me?
TWS: One final question before we get some fans on the line.
DALLAS: Yeah, great.
TWS: Okay, so here we go. So there is a theory that Milton is the one who pulled up the ice cream truck full of Walkers out there on the internet. And that he was the one that got out the guns blazing to prove his loyalty to the governor. So, there’s like this theory and chatter going on online. Any proof or any truth to that?
DALLAS: Yeah, first of all, I love all the theories that I read and I think it’s sort of fun. I mean you can tell how people are in to it by the way they are trying to sort of piece it all together.
I think that, unless Milton has some time travel equipment, that Milton is standing on the street with Andrea and she’s saying “Where is the governor?” and he saying ” I think he’s on a run.” at the same time that they a driving a van through the wall, so unless he’s got a clone or a some sort of teleporter, I think, I think it’s not him.
TWS: Alright, let’s get our, I think we’ve got 4 or 5 fans that want to ask you questions. So, were gonna get them on the line, right now.
Eric is working on getting them on the phone and we are calling right now (phone rings).
We are calling Gary from Illinois.
CALLER 1: Yes?
TWS: This is James and Eric
CALLER 1: Hey, what’s going on?
TWS: You’re on with Dallas Roberts.
CALLER 1: Hey, how’s it going Dallas?
DALLAS: Good. And you?
CALLER 1: I’m doing alright. I’m doing alright. Love the character, Milton. Just love him.
DALLAS: Excellent. Thank you very, very much.
TWS: Gary, what’s your question for Dallas?
CALLER 1: I actually have two questions. One of them was, how do you prepare to play a role like Milton?
DALLAS: You know, Milton’s got some sort of quirks that I don’t necessarily share. Um, and he has some quirks that I do necessarily share. So, you try and amplify the things about you that are similar and you sort of, push down the stuff that is different.
Milton is such a fun guy to play because he’s sort of off, in a way. You really have the freedom to do almost anything and none of it seems out of bounds.
CALLER 1: That’s excellent. My other question was too, in the last couple of episodes, it looks to me like Milton almost looks to the governor as a father figure. Is that what you are kind of playing him as, or?
DALLAS: Yeah. He certainly, yah. Milton knows for sure that he would not last long in this environment without being close to the, you know, lead dog. Um, and I think Milton likes him. If it was a father figure, I think Milton would try and emulate him a little more. I did throw in tiny little things. Like, Milton, once he finally gets a weapon, like, I wear it the same way a Milton wears his. Like that kind of tiny little stuff.
But Milton knows he’s never going to grow up to be (laughs) the governor, you know. So, in that sense, it’s total respect. It’s not father figure.
TWS: Okay. I’ve got, this is Eric. I’ve got a follow up question.
So, in what ways are you not like Milton in real life?
DALLAS: Uh, I would never, ever, ever, ever, ever tuck my shirt in in 115 degree heat and leave it that way! I don’t wear glasses. I don’t, I think Merle would have been banished from the lab from the get go if I had control over everything. And I think that I could probably shoot a weapon better than Milton.
TWS: Awesome. Awesome. Alright, Gary. Thanks for your call.
CALLER 1: Hey, thanks a lot guys.
TWS: You’re welcome.
CALLER: Great thanks guys. Bye. Love your show. Love Milton and hopefully, he’s gonna be on there for a long, long time.
DALLAS: Yes! From your words to their ears!
TWS: Alright, that was great. Thanks Dallas for speaking with him.
We’re gonna get Cindy on the phone.
CALLER 2: You reached the voice mail message of Cindy ( ). Please leave a message and I will return your call(message greeting).
DALLAS: Cindy. Cindy, it’s Milton. It’s Milton, from the Walking Dead. Listen, we were supposed to talk. I don’t know, the lines must have gotten crossed. I need you desperately to get back in to the city while you, me and the governor have a big plan we’ve got to get done. Get here as fast as you can! Alright, Cindy? Get here as fast as you can! Oh, my God!
TWS: That’s awesome! That’s great!
Alright, now we are calling Natalie.
CALLER 3 : Hello?
CALLER 3: Yes?
TWS: Hey! It’s James and Eric.
CALLER 3: James and Eric? Oh, hold on one second.
TWS: Sure. Hey, it’s James and Eric from Walker Stalkers and your on with Dallas Roberts.
CALLER 3: Oh, hi!
DALLAS: How are you?
CALLER 3: I’m wonderful. Thank you!
DALLAS: Excellent! I didn’t mean to interrupt.
CALLER 3: No, that’s fine I work for a magazine and I was just aligning.
DALLAS: Oh. (giggle)
TWS: Well, Natalie, what’s your question for Dallas?
DALLAS: Oh, hi. Completely sorry. Completely spaced that.
I just wanted to say “hi” and to say that factory was absolutely fantastic. And I have to say “hello” to my friend Cloey.
DALLAS: Oh, cool.
CALLER 3: We are big, big fans of yours. I have to say, Home At The End of the World is our favorite film, ever. Yes….(laughs)
DALLAS: Thank you so much for everything. You are incredible. Thank you, so much!
CALLER 3: No, no. We are just great fans of your work. Um…Our, my question was:
Milton is kind of a pacifist and he, um, he has a breaking point, I figure. And we are just wondering. If he finds out he’s being manipulated by the governor, could we see that pacifism sort of, break and if maybe he could be the one responsible for ending the governor?
I don’t know. This my be completely out of left field. We were just wondering if that would be something that could happen with a character like Milton?
DALLAS: Yeah. You know. I think Milton understands, just by proximinity to the governor, that everyone is being manipulated by the governor. I think Milton, if it were to ever. If there were to ever be a situation with the governor where Milton felt betrayed in a big way that he would certainly re-evaluate what that meant.
You know, I also joke with the writers and stuff. Just because of his pacifism and his wish for order without violence inherent in that order that it would be hilarious if, suddenly, for no good reason, he was really great at shooting a 50 caliber thing off the top of a humvee.
They haven’t listened, so far. But maybe, if the governor keeps acting up, we’ll get there.
CALLER 3: Yeah. I kind of feel he’s smarter than he let’s on. But he must have this breaking point where is just is enough. Like, it’s too much. He can’t deal with this.
DALLAS: Yeah. You know, he has struggled the whole time with the, sort of, amenities. You know, the water and the electricity and the lab and the space. You know, he doesn’t have to turn a every strange noise, because people are protecting him.
CALLER 3: Yeah. It’s comforting.
DALLAS: Yeah. But, in order to create that comfort, um, you know, out there on the edges of town there is real brutality and real bad stuff going on. I think that’s an allegory, if you will, for what, you know, the whole Homeland Security operation, sort of, you know. Like, you know, drone strikes aren’t exactly something that’s great, but we sort of understand, I guess, that we need to do it out there. I guess it’s that same sort of allegory of civilization that is really rich about the show. You know, it’s not it’s not that there are bad, sort of, people in in amazing make up coming over the wall, it’s actually saying different things underneath. It’s very, sort of, eagle eye to have spotted that sort of stuff.
TWS: Well, Natalie, thank you so much. Thank you. We have to get to some other callers.
CALLER 3: No, thank you! Have a fantastic day. Thank you so much. Bye, bye.
DALLAS: Bye, now.
TWS: Alright, this will be our last, our last call, Dallas. This will be Blake. We are calling Blake right now.
CALLER 4: Hello?
TWS: Blake? Hey, it’s James and Eric from the Walker Stalkers.
CALLER 4: Hey. What’s up?
TWS: Hey. Not much. You’re on with Dallas Roberts.
CALLER 4: Alright.
DALLAS: Hey Blake. How are ya?
CALLER 4: I’m good. How are you?
DALLAS: I’m good.
TWS: Alright. Blake, what’s your question for Dallas?
CALLER 4: Well, I have like, 2 questions that could maybe go together.
The first one is: Why is Milton so loyal to the governor? Is it because he is scared of what he can do to him, or what is it exactly?
DALLAS: I think he’s loyal to the governor, number one, because he knows he could never kick his ass for sure. He’s never going to get to that place. He’s just not that kind of guy. But, I think he’s loyal to the governor, because the governor has provided him protection and stability and a place, you know, the means to do his work. To try and research what’s going on. Milton, without the governor, is probably dead. Really, really quick. And so, that kind of loyalty is stronger than, just, you know, he’s gonna kill me. Sometimes, I’m just thankful that he saved my life, basically.
CALLER 4: Yeah. Okay. My other question, you might have already answered this in the podcast. What is his back story, because a lot of the other cast member’s make up their own back story. What is Milton’s?
DALLAS: Yeah. I learned a long time ago in television that comes in chunks. Yeah. I mean is sit down to episode 1 and I never know what’s going to happen in episode 3 or 7 or 9 or 10 or two seasons down the road or any of that.
So, I tend to not do too much back story stuff. Just because, then later, they will write some sort of back story that just completely conflicts with what I’ve thought of. Then it really confuses me.
No. I think Milton is sort of a recluse who had a job where he didn’t really have to deal with very much. He sort of lived safe with his machines and his, sort of, books. And now, he’s been roughed out into the world. Where he has to, sort of deal with people. And you know, that’s one of the fun things in playing him. You know, he’s not…he’s kind of like an 8th grade boy trying to ask a girl to the dance every moment of his life. He’s just sort of petrified and mortified and just wishes he could disappear into the shrubbery. So, that’s fun.
TWS: Hey, well, that’s interesting. At least, you know, you got a little of background there, Blake. Pretty good, huh?
Okay, well Blake. Thanks for calling in. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
CALLER 4: Alright. Thanks so much.
DALLAS: Thanks you so much, Blake. Thanks for watching it.
TWS: Okay. So, Dallas, thank you so much for that. Those were great answers. Man, I know, that, that on especially from Canada. She was very excited. She certainly knew a lot of your background and a lot of your work.
DALLAS: She did. Yeah. She was obviously familiar. That was fun.
TWS: Yeah. Do you have..did you work on anything, specifically during the break? Um, as far as, your acting career, that we might see?
DALLAS: Yeah. As soon as we finished shooting season 3, I went and did a movie called The Dallas Fire’s Club. Yeah, I’m sure it will be out late 2013 or late 2014. You might know it as the Matthew McConaughey looks really skinny movie.
TWS: Has that been something in the news? About being too skinny Matthew McConaughey? Like it was in the Enquirer? I saw something about that.
DALLAS: If you pay attention to that type of news…yeah, there was a period late last year where ” Matthew McConaughey is really, really skinny. How does he do it?”
TWS: Was he really skinny.
DALLAS: Yeah. He was. I think he weighed about 147 pounds when we were working together.
TWS: Okay. Alright. That’s interesting. I love that sort of trivia. That’s gonna be cool.
Alright. Well, we have had an amazing time with you. We are going to ask you just are normal last three questions that we ask everybody that comes on the show.
As you know, we are a nationally based show. So, these 3 questions are kind of music related. Um, so, here’s the first one:
Who is your most favorite musician, band or singer?
DALLAS: RadioHead. Without a doubt.
TWS: Yeah. I could totally see that from Milton or I could totally see that from, from you.
DALLAS: You know, that is one thing Milton and Dallas have in common. They both love RadioHead.
TWS: Those weren’t audio waves, that was RadioHead that you were meditating too.
DALLAS: Yeah, exactly, that was Amuck, the new Adam Buxton record.
TWS: Awesome. Well, what’s your favorite concert you’ve ever been too?
DALLAS: Oh, gosh. I’ve been to way too many. I’ll give you my list of the top 3.
Certainly, RadioHead: Hail to the Thief in Madison Square Garden. Ray Charles at the, oh, Big Purple Thing in Florida. The Bandwagon, Art Hall.
And I guess, you gotta go with number one, Missing Persons at Astro World, in Houston Texas.
That was my first concert, ever.
TWS: That was your first concert ever?
DALLAS: Missing Persons. I love that group. A great 80’s band.
TWS: Alright. Which singer or musician would make the best zombie?
DALLAS: Gosh. Who would make the best zombie?
Uh, I would love to see Tom Jones as a zombie. That would be a cool zombie.
TWS:(sings) It’s not unusual to be loved by anyone.
TWS: Don’t you think he’s a little too overweight to be a zombie, though? Unless, he’s lost weight.
DALLAS: Yeah. The zombies sort of, get skinnier, as time goes on. But, imagine. I’m talking about a 70’s hair Tom Jones with the sort of bushy chest hair and gold medallions. That would be a cool zombie.
TWS: Although, if it was his current form. You know, if his hair starts to thin out and go away, his hair piece would still be existing on top. Right?
TWS: Awesome Dallas! Thank you, so much for your time. We wish you nothing but the best. in everything that you do.
DALLAS: Cheers! Thanks so much. Keep putting it out.
TWS: Yeah. And maybe we will see you down the road. Thanks and have a great day. We appreciate it.
DALLAS: Alright. Cheers. Thanks.