Dallas Roberts has made a name for himself playing memorable characters in films like THE GREY, 3:10 TO YUMA and WALK THE LINE, and it doesn’t look he has any intention of slowing down. Having recently joined the ranks as Milton, on AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, Roberts also has a recurring role on another TV show,THE GOOD WIFE, along with a string of upcoming films as well. You’d think his plate would be pretty full with all of that, but that’s not the case, as Roberts stars in Anchor Bay’s supernatural thriller, SHADOW PEOPLE.
Dallas was nice enough to chat with us recently, regarding SHADOW PEOPLE, THE WALKING DEAD and why he’s drawn to darker types of roles. Read on Fright Fiends!
You’ve recently had a string of roles in darker and intense films and shows, like THE GREY, THE WALKING DEAD and now SHADOW PEOPLE, are you naturally drawn to those types of projects?
I’m drawn to them in the way that storytellers are drawn to campfire tales, you know? There’s something about that, that translates over the internet and iPhones and the internet and harkens back to when the only entertainment in society was the person cooking up the boiler over the fire and weaving you the story…and sometimes those stories involved things that went bump in the night…with you hugging your family a little closer, and that stuff I find so powerful as a human trait and how we’ve kept that tradition going for eons really. That’s really what draws me to that sort of thing, that and good writing. Put those together and I’ll sign up anyday.
How did SHADOW PEOPLE come about for you?
It came about through the regular sort of channels, there were auditions and acceptance, then meetings and conversations about what it would be. It’s funny, because once we decided to go forward with it, I decided to do some research about this mythology of the stuff, and its broad appeal across the planet, this story in whatever name has appeared in a bunch of different cultures over a long long time, and that again, speaks to my first point. Something that’s so broadly accepted by humans, and I use the word “mythology” but I don’t mean that to say it’s not real, but it’s part of a symbolic statement of a larger thing. I find that really really fascinating.
You mentioned that you did research on the whole phenomena that inspired SHADOW PEOPLE, did you do any research having to do with radio hosting as well, or did you just go into that with an idea of what you wanted to do?
I’ve always been a fan of talk radio. I’ve always loved driving, when you’re out in the middle of America and sometimes you can’t get whatever you’re used to, and I would always flip over to A.M. and get, you know, people talking to each other. My favorite radio people were always the people who I felt like were just talking to me, or like we would just be talking in a room, that type of feeling. I tried, and I hope I did it well, to not do the whole “aaaaaand noowwww you’re on the radiooo” and that kind of thing. I felt like this guy, Charlie Crow, would be a guy who had the same experience, ya know, where he would make you feel like he was talking to you.
Are you a fan of the horror genre at all?
Yeah. As a kid, I remember for whatever reason a film that I think was called SCREAMS OF A WINTER NIGHT, and that was the first time I saw anything like that. I was staying with my aunt and uncle and my cousins who were a little bit older, and they said “let’s watch this” , and it was the first movie that set out to unnerve me, that I had come across. When you’re a kid, they give you a bunch of “here’s the magical princess” or “here’s the noble knight”, and stuff like that, but that film was the first one that made me not want to go to sleep. It’s great, and say what you will, but we’re ALL afraid, and when you can instill it into that channel of your life, and allow it to be there, and thrill you without it overpowering you, I think there’s something to say about that as a trope. I think the fact that as storytellers, we do that to each for fun, and that’s a great human trait.
A lot of people seem to really dig your character on THE WALKING DEAD, were you familiar with the comics or show, prior to joining the cast?
I was familiar with both. I worked on a show called RUBICON that was on AMC, before THE WALKING DEAD, and my character on that was into comic books, so I started to read them. I wasn’t a comic book guy growing up, but when I started reading them, one of the ones I started to read was THE WALKING DEAD…so I was very familiar with that. The show obviously came out and became huge, and you can’t NOT be a fan of that show, you can’t get away for it. When they called and asked “do you want to be a part of it?”, I jumped at the chance.
One of the things that really stands out about your character on that show, is the mix of Milton wanting to do the right thing versus his wanting to just survive at any cost, how did you approach the character in a show that deals with really intense themes like that?
I think that’s why the show has attained the level of popularity that it has, because it isn’t just the RIDICULOUSLY amazing makeup of the show or just the awesome writing that Kirkman spearheaded in the stuff that the show followed. It does deal with larger senses, especially Woodbury, of society and how you build a society and what those freedoms cost. Especially in the last decade that American has lived through, I mean just go to your local airport for five minutes and decide what freedom costs. I think that stuff is fun to play with, and I think that’s a really cool part of the show.
Awesome, well I definitely appreciate you taking the time to talk to us today, it was good talking to you Dallas.
Hey man, cheers, thanks so much!