Dayton Callie, who plays Jeremiah Otto Sr. on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about reuniting with Kim Dickens, the respect Otto has for Madison, and his take on Troy and Jake.
Q: You briefly appeared on the show last season. Did you know at the time you’d be returning as a series regular?
A: I know Dave Erickson from Sons of Anarchy. We’ve known each other for a few years and he said there was a character he’d like me to play. I kind of felt I’d be back. It was just an introduction in that [first] scene, so it gave me the feeling that I’d be back, but I didn’t know when or in what capacity… The next year, they gave me a call, and Dave had some ideas for the character. He said he was combining my character with someone else, and I morphed into the character I play now.
Q: You worked with Kim Dickens on both Sons of Anarchy and Deadwood. What was it like reuniting on this show?
A: It was great. It was like hand in glove, and it just felt normal. I was working with a friend. It’s a real friendly cast and that made it easy. I don’t watch a lot of TV, but when I have friends on series, I always watch their shows so I can give them feedback and tell them they stink and bust their chops. [Laughs] So, I’m familiar with the show. I took it scene by scene and found the character as I went. And I worked with Kim right off the bat. A lot of my scenes are with her.
Q: What is Otto’s first impression of Madison, given that they meet after she almost gouged his son’s eye out?
A: There’s a little bit of admiration from me to her. This is a spunky lady. I figure, “My son didn’t lose his eye. [Laughs] I don’t know all the details, but he probably mouthed off or did something stupid anyway. He probably deserved it.” There’s a certain amount of admiration for Madison in the beginning. Who is this lady? How’d she get this far?
Q: They’re both suffering from loss – Otto’s goddaughter and Madison’s husband. In the post-apocalyptic world, do you think that’s something that brings people together?
A: Definitely. He’s aware of that. It bonds people because you know what they’ve been going through. There’s that wall that comes down right away. Everybody’s hurting and it’s dangerous, so you have to make friends when you can and be cautious of people at the same time. There’s a feeling out period that just comes with the danger.
A: Fathers can be hard on their children. I think he wants them to be safe and grow up right, but they’re two different personalities. Otto doesn’t mince words and he’s a pretty stern guy. I have children and I talk to both in different ways. You use different tactics for what you think is right for each child and what you think they’ll listen to and respond to. I think it’s just a normal relationship of two boys. One’s wild and needs to be reined in and the other is stiff. I tried to treat it as a normal pair of two kids and accept their imperfections.
Q: It’s hard to get a read on Otto thus far. Did the video footage of him uncover anything for you?
A: It was very difficult to do because it was all one long take and there were a lot of things that happened in it. I thought, “Oh sh-t! How are we going to shoot this? There’s one camera and it’s one take.” So, that was my first thought, but it did give me backstory, for sure. I related to his behavior. I learned I have friends who are preppers. They don’t say it, but when I looked at it, I thought, “My God. This is like so and so.” It made me aware of who was like Otto. I started to realize why friends of mine were leaning towards that, but I don’t know any die-hard preppers. I guess if I lived down in Arizona or further down, I’d meet quite a few.
Q: What would you want in your own apocalyptic pantry?
A: Guns, ammo, water and a girlfriend! A little company never hurt. [Laughs] I don’t need a dog. Maybe a motorcycle. That’d be good. My Sons of Anarchy days would help me.
Q: Otto says he’s planning to build something “better than before.” What do you think that means to him?
A: He wants a better world. There’s a long answer to that with just everything that’s wrong with this world right now. It’s chaotic and he’d like to get rid of all the chaos. All of this came about out of chaos, and he’d like to start a one-man army, in a sense. I don’t look at Otto as a negative kind of guy. That’s my take on it.
Read a Q&A with Kim Dickens, who plays Madison.
Watch full episodes of Fear the Walking Dead on amc.com and AMC apps for mobile, Xbox One, Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast.
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