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(SPOILERS) The Walking Dead Q&A — Austin Amelio (Dwight)

Austin Amelio, who plays Dwight on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about joining the Alexandrians’ quest to take down Negan and what it’s like playing both sides.

Q: Dwight’s officially on the Alexandrians’ side now. What was his breaking point that led him away from Negan?

A: He has so much pent-up hate for that guy. Dwight is a good guy. He’s a really good guy, and, hopefully, it’s portrayed in what I’m doing. It’s not easy to kill. He doesn’t want to kill or accept the world as it is, but he has to. I really don’t think in his heart he’s ever accepted Negan. I think he’s adjusted to the living circumstances, but the way he gets treated by Negan is not how anybody should be treated as a human being. I think Dwight was a pretty straight-cut guy back in the day before the post-apocalyptic world and met Sherry when he was young and they got together. He did things right or how they’re supposed to be done. He met Negan and he got his face burned… it’s just an ongoing list.

Q: What’s it like for you as an actor to play both sides and ping-pong back and forth between these two groups and different worlds?

A: Pretty easy because the writers are so good. They make it pretty apparent what my emotional state is when with the Alexandrians and where I’m at emotionally when with Negan. More so than anything, I think it’s pretty fun to try to convince the Alexandrians: “You can’t live without me. I have information that will help you guys” and then go back to Negan and act like none of that stuff happened and I’m one of his main guys. It’s more fun than anything.

Q: That confession tape is still in Eugene’s possession, although Dwight doesn’t know that. Do you think Eugene would ever play that card?

A: There’s definitely a possibility, but I think he’s too wrapped up in his own agenda and Dwight is, too. So, I think that’s on the back burner. I’m praying that he doesn’t. That would not be good. [Laughs] In a world like this, you have to just keep moving forward and hope that what you’re doing is more important. If Dwight just focuses his energy on that, he’ll get trapped and go into this circadian, circular thinking. Out of sight, out of mind. While he’s in the Sanctuary, he’s been leading them to all sorts of traps and implementing the Alexandrians’ game plan into the Sanctuary so they can win. If he gets caught, he’s in big trouble that’s for sure.

Q: Tara and Daryl are having trouble accepting Dwight into the group. Can he ever truly be an ally if that trust isn’t there?

A: I think it’s stupid. [Laughs] I get it, but how much longer are they not going to trust him? He’s thrown himself out there, naked and vulnerable. He’s come to them with real information… He wants Negan dead just as much as they do. They’ve got nothing to lose. They might as well listen. But I get it, of course. The whole world is set up to not trust anybody and to fend for yourself, but you have some guy risk his life to come over to your jail cell and tell you what’s going on. Come on, people! [Laughs]

Q: Dwight knows he might die even after he helps take down Negan. What does that say about how much he truly believes in this mission of his?

A: Dwight is as close to his higher power as he’s ever been because he knows that that’s going to happen. He’s almost 99 percent sure he’s going to die any day now. It can be because of the Alexandrians, it can be because of the Saviors, it can be from them finding out about Sherry… whatever. There’s tons of things. It’s like this big spiderweb for him and if one of those dots on the spiderweb gets found out – the spiderweb being his plan and everything he’s doing – he’s dead. He’s 100 percent okay with that as long as Negan is gone. He’s like a Japanese samurai at this point. He’s totally accepted life and death in all of this. That’s where he is, mentally.

Q: In Episode 11, Tara goes so far as to attempt to kill him. Is his apology to her about Denise sincere or merely because she has a gun on him?

A: I think he’s legitimately sorry. At this point, he’s got a lot of things he needs to get out before he does die – and that’s one of them. He’s legitimately apologizing to her because he has the chance at alone time with her. He means it. He really does. He’s crossing things off his list, essentially, that he feels like he needs to get off his chest.

Q: Those swamp walkers were pretty gnarly. What was that day like on set?

A: That day was awesome! We had a bunch of background actors there and one of those walkers was [director] Mike Satrazemis’s wife. [Laughs] She was totally willing to go out there and do it. It was really cool.  I’d never seen a swamp walker up-close. That whole scene was very Apocalypse Now with the swamp and the mist and the fog. It was really well done and really fun.

Q: Does Dwight believe Sherry is still out there? Is he fighting for her in some ways?

A: That’s really the only thing he’s fighting for. He doesn’t give a f–ck about himself. To me, he’s fighting from two really powerful emotions that propel him in this world and allow him to live, and that’s his love for his wife and his hate for Negan. When you have those two combined, it’s really the motor that keeps him going.

Read an interview with Steven Ogg, who plays Simon.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c. Click here to add a reminder to your calendar.

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