Alanna Masterson, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt and Tyler James Williams, from left Gene Page AMC
Alanna Masterson, Christian Serratos, Josh McDermitt and Tyler James Williams, from left Gene Page AMC

TV

Walker Stalker Con stars dish on ‘Dead’

By David Martindale

Special to the Star-Telegram

March 12, 2015 05:00 PM

Here’s a disturbing thought from Josh McDermitt of The Walking Dead.

What if zombies were to descend upon the Dallas Convention Center this weekend at Walker Stalker Con?

We’re not talking about TV show fans masquerading as “walkers,” who most assuredly will attend.

We’re talking about honest-to-goodness flesh eaters. What would you do if the biters came out? How would you measure up?

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Whatever steps you take to protect yourself, don’t sidle up to McDermitt. He would be useless in a crisis situation, unable to help anyone around him, unable to save himself.

“I don’t have what it takes to survive a zombie apocalypse,” the actor says. “But let’s be honest. Few of us do.”

As viewers of The Walking Dead, we admire the toughness and tenacity of such characters as Rick Grimes and Daryl Dixon. But let’s face facts: Most survivors would be like Eugene, the not-so-fierce fellow whom McDermitt portrays.

“We’re not going to know what we’re doing,” he says. “We’re going to be ticked off because we don’t have the Internet when we should be more concerned about gathering weapons and supplies. We’re going to have to hope that someone more capable is willing to protect us.”

On second thought, let’s not dwell on worst-case convention scenarios. Most likely, no one in attendance will be infected anyway.

So let us commune, worry free, with the many Dallas-bound Walking Dead cast members, present and past, to celebrate one of the most phenomenally popular shows of this decade.

It’s going to be quite a turnout.

Current cast members attending the weekend convention include Steven Yeun (who plays Glenn), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Chandler Riggs (Carl), Michael Cudlitz (Abraham), Christian Serratos (Rosita), Alanna Masterson (Tara), Ross Marquand (Aaron), Tyler James Williams (Noah) and the mullet man himself, McDermitt.

Former Walking Dead favorites include Emily Kinney (Beth), David Morrissey (the Governor), Chad Coleman (Tyreese), IronE Singleton (T-Dog) and Lawrence Gilliard Jr. (Bob).

There also will be several actors who have played smaller supporting roles during the show’s five seasons and even a handful of non-Walking Dead types, such as Harold Perrineau, Nestor Carbonell and Daniel Dae Kim of Lost; Mike Zapcic, Bryan Johnson and Ming Chen of Comic Book Men; and Zach Galligan of Gremlins.

A few of the celebrity guests will be in town only for the Saturday session, but most are scheduled to be here both days.

Serratos, who joined the cast last season as tough-girl Rosita, is looking forward to the event.

“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without our fans,” Serratos says. “Their support is what keeps us going. Their passion makes us giddy and excited to go to work every day. We appreciate them so much.”

The Walking Dead, which is wrapping up its fifth season with only three more episodes, airs at 8 p.m. Sunday on AMC. It’s the most-watched series on basic cable, drawing in the neighborhood of 15 million viewers every week.

The show is such an audience powerhouse that Talking Dead, the panel discussion show that follows every episode, often places as the second-highest-rated cable show of the week, with an average of more than 5 million viewers.

AMC recently announced a two-season order for a yet-untitled Walking Dead companion drama. It’ll star Kim Dickens (Treme) and Cliff Curtis (Gang Related) and is scheduled to premiere in late summer.

“It’s all part of our plan to achieve global domination,” McDermitt jokes. “It’s been a joy to be on this show and to experience the ride. I was a big fan of the show before I came on [in Season 4], so to get to do these conventions and to share in the excitement and the fervor that the fans have is really special.”

The Walking Dead is based on Robert Kirkman’s beloved comic book series.

The show chronicles life in a post-apocalyptic world where relentless zombies roam the land, yet human survivors often pose the greater threat. Every episode is a poetic combination of horrific violence and poignant human emotions, of ugliness and tenderness, of nihilism and hope.

“Once you get past the zombies,” Serratos says, “I think it’s one of the most real and most honest shows on TV.”

Viewers might have originally tuned in for the freak show elements, but they’ve stayed because of the dynamic characters.

“When I started on this show,” McDermitt says, “my mom was like, ‘Sorry, honey, I’m not going to watch it. I can’t deal with all the blood and gore.’ But the next thing I know, she’s calling and saying, ‘Oh, my god, I couldn’t believe what Carol did,’ and I’m like, ‘Oh, so you are watching!’”

“Once you get hooked,” Serratos says, “you’re going to have a hard time staying away from this show.”

Serratos already knew a thing or two about being part of a pop-culture sensation. She played Angela in the “Twilight Saga” movies. But her experiences thus far on The Walking Dead have been even more gratifying.

“This truly is the best job I’ve ever had,” she says. “The rapport we have on set is so special. I think I speak for everyone on the show: We love each other so much. It’s not something we’re shy about saying.

“It can be really hard work. We shoot long hours in difficult conditions. We’re heat exhausted and dehydrated and in pain most weeks. We don’t get that much sleep. But when I wake up at 4 in the morning, I can’t wait to go to work.”

“We really found lightning in a bottle with this show,” McDermitt adds. “And they found it long before I came on. It starts with [executive producers] Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple and with Andrew Lincoln [who stars as Rick, the leader of the group]. They’ve created this great vehicle to tell stories and this awesome work environment.

“I don’t know what my next show will be after The Walking Dead comes to an end for me, but I know it’s going to suck in comparison — and I certainly hope my next employer never reads that quote!”

Walker Stalker Con

▪ Dallas Convention Center

650 S. Griffin St., Dallas

▪ 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday (VIP entry both days: 9 a.m.)

▪ $55 Saturday, $45 Sunday

▪ http://www.walkerstalkercon.com/

The Walking Dead

▪ 8 p.m. Sunday

▪ AMC

The horrors!

We asked some Walking Dead cast member what scares them:

Andrew Lincoln (Rick): The Omen. I watched The Omen, the first one, when I was about 8 years old, way too young, and I watched the whole thing. I’m completely traumatized. I couldn’t sleep. And my brother leaned over to me after I watched it and said, ‘That is all true. It’s in the Bible.’ And it was one of the most terrifying moments of my life. So The Omen. Every time I hear the music, I’m terrified.”

Josh McDermitt (Eugene): “The things that mess with me are ghosts, demonic possessions and any kind of psychological fear and horror. If there’s a movie trailer on TV that opens with a little kid sitting in the corner rocking and singing a song at the beginning of the trailer, I know it’s not going to be something I can handle. I know I’ll have to mute it or turn the channel or look down and plug my ears. So a movie like The Exorcist, which I’ve only seen a few clips of, no chance I’m watching that. I can’t do it.”

Christian Serratos (Rosita): “I get anxiety when I’m watching a movie or reading a book where there’s any kind of ‘trapped’ situation. Buried alive. Trapped underwater. I can’t take it. Like, when I watch Titanic. I need a Xanax just to watch Titanic.”

— David Martindale