- Ryan Green/AMC
- Warning: There are spoilers ahead for “Fear the Walking Dead,” season five episode three, “Humbug’s Gulch.”
- Dwight (Austin Amelio) finally made his first appearance on “Fear TWD” in Sunday’s episode, searching for his wife, Sherry. We last saw him on season eight of “TWD.”
- It was announced in January that Amelio would be the next “Walking Dead” actor to cross over to the spinoff.
- In an interview with INSIDER, Amelio says he kept the secret about heading to the spinoff for about a year.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.
Dwighty boy is finally back in “The Walking Dead” universe! Austin Amelio made his first appearance on “Fear TWD” on Sunday’s episode after leaving “TWD” over a year ago on season eight.
“It feels good. It feels very natural,” Austin Amelio told INSIDER of returning to the role of the former Savior.
We last saw Dwight on the season eight finale as he set off to search for his wife Sherry. He’s still looking for her and his search has brought him to Texas. It’s a bit of a homecoming for Amelio who lives in Austin, Texas with his family.
INSIDER spoke with Amelio Wednesday afternoon to find out more about when and how he learned he would be heading to “Fear” with Lennie James, how he kept the secret of his return to “TWD” universe for a year, how he may have planted the seed with chief content officer of “The Walking Dead” TV universe Scott M. Gimple for his eventual crossover, and more.
Leaving the show on season eight and how Amelio may have hinted at putting Dwight on the spinoff
Kirsten Acuna: I want to rewind the clock back a bit because I never got to ask. How long did you know you were going to be leaving the Walking Dead at the end of season eight?
Austin Amelio: I want to say maybe just a couple episodes before we finished the season.
Acuna: OK. And did you ever think or know that there was the possibility of returning?
Amelio: No, but I do have a funny story. I heard that “Fear The Walking Dead” was going to Texas and I was joking around with Scott [Gimple] maybe a couple months before. I was like, wouldn’t that be funny if Dwight went to [“Fear”]. You know, I’m from here so I was trying to get back down.
I was like wouldn’t it be funny if Dwight crossed over? And we both laughed about it. Then all of a sudden, two episodes before we wrap up the season [of ‘The Walking Dead’], I got a call from him saying, “Hey, how do you feel about, you know, going down to Texas and doing ‘Fear’?” So, I don’t know if that seed… He probably forgot about that to be honest. I think it just made sense for my character to go down there because of the storyline.
Acuna: That’s kind of funny.
Amelio: Yeah, it is.
Amelio had to keep the secret about crossing over to “Fear” for about a year
- Gene Page/AMC
Acuna: How far back was that plan in place? When did you find out?
Amelio: I found out around Atlanta Walker Stalker. [That’s] when I got the call. I don’t know when that was. I’d say maybe a month before or something.
Amelio: And then I had to keep it a secret for a year.
Acuna: Was that tough?
Amelio: It was really tough. I was chomping at the bit. I just wanted to tell somebody, especially when you do those conventions, everyone’s going ‘Well, where’s Dwight? Where’s he gone? What’s happening?’ You know? And sometimes you’ll get in a longer conversation and someone will catch you off guard by asking me questions and you almost slip the answer in and you have to hold yourself back. It’s kind of difficult, you know?
Acuna: Of course. I was at Walker Stalker New Jersey [in December 2018] where you had hinted that we may see you again.
How much time has passed since we last saw Dwight on “The Walking Dead”
- Gene Page/AMC
Acuna: Do you know how much time has passed for Dwight since we’ve last seen him on “The Walking Dead”? He does tell June and John-
Amelio: About six months.
Acuna: OK. I thought it may have been a little bit longer than that because he tells John and June at one point he’s been searching for Sherry for like at least a year, but he doesn’t really seem sure.
Amelio: Maybe it is a year, it could be a year. Is that what I say in the episode?
Acuna: It is.
Amelio: OK. Then I guess it’s a year.
Acuna: We’ll go with a year. I’m always trying to keep track of the timelines. That’s why I asked.
What else has Dwight been up to in the year or so since we’ve seen him: Not much
Acuna: Do you know if Dwight was doing anything else in that year long time since we see him or has he just been trying to look for Sherry?
Amelio: Effectively searching for his wife, like a drug addict trying to get his next fix.
Acuna: Now that is a long time in the show and for one person to be on their own. Should we expect Dwight to be a little different at all than when we last saw him in terms of demeanor and character?
Amelio: He’s in a much darker spot, I think.
What it was like filming the episode’s darkest moment and most thrilling moment with the ax
Acuna: Yeah, since you bring that up, there is a dark moment with Dwight on Sunday’s episode where he considered possibly shooting himself for a moment. What was filming that moment like?
Amelio: It was actually great because Colman Domingo, [who plays Victor Strand], was directing and he’s an actor’s director. One of the best things that you can do as the director is sort of give the actor permission to do what they want with the scene. And he would do that on every take and be like, ‘You know what? Go there. Wherever you want to go, let’s see it, go all the way. Then if it’s too much, we can bring it back down.’
He just let me do what I wanted with that little piece and it was really fun. I mean, also sad doing that sh–, but it’s a part of acting and I had a good time.
Acuna: Yeah, I thought that it was a highlight of the episode. One of the other moments that really stood out to me was where you hold up the ax and then John shoots it to kill two walkers at the same time. What was it like filming that scene? Were you just holding an ax up with a body on top of you?
Amelio: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The other thing is I’ve been shot in the shoulder. So, getting the ax up was extreme agony for Dwight. So, I sort of played that. Then having this big walker on top of me was an almost sort of a rocky moment. I really enjoyed it and it was a cool little gag we had.
Amelio: I’ve never seen that in the show before.
Amelio: I thought it was pretty creative.
The first scenes Amelio shot for “Fear TWD” and what it was like getting to work with fellow “TWD” alumni Lennie James
Acuna: We first see you on Episode 3 with Jenna Elfman and Garrett Dillahunt. Were those the first scenes that you shot as well for “Fear the Walking Dead”?
Amelio: Yes, they were.
Acuna: OK. And then what was it like being with fellow “Walking Dead” alumni Lennie James? You guys really were never on “The Walking Dead” together too much.
- Ryan Green/AMC
Amelio: We did never do any scenes together. You know, it was just really, really surreal. It was surreal seeing him down here. It was surreal seeing [director] Mike Satrazemis was down here. And then getting to shoot a scene with Lennie where we both see each other for the first time. It was all so surreal. I love Lennie James to death and to get to shoot that, it was really fun. It’s really fun playing that.
Acuna: Yeah. I kind of wanted you to give him a hug at first, but then I realized that you two really didn’t know each other on “The Walking Dead.”
Amelio: Yeah, we don’t, we don’t.
Whether or not Dwight will find Sherry and what’s next for Dwight on “Fear”
- Gene Page/AMC
Acuna: At one point on Sunday’s episode, Dwight says that he doesn’t think he’s going to find Sherry, but what do you think?
Amelio: I think we just find him in a dark spot. Obviously, his hope has to be infinite. He has to have an infinite amount of it because he’s been on this search for so long. Part of the reason you see him in the car putting a gun to his head is because maybe he thinks that she doesn’t want him to find her because of the man that he’s turned into. So, he kind of falls weak to his thoughts for a moment, but obviously there’s got to be hope. There has to be a little hope in there still.
Acuna: Yeah. Well, I hope that we get to see her at some point. What else can you tease for Dwight’s character coming up? It looks like this group is willing to try and help him find his wife Sherry, but Dwight might get roped into something else.
Amelio: Well, there’s a couple other scenes that pop up for Dwight later in the season and obviously, you’re not going to see Dwight playing the same notes throughout the whole season. There’s going to be some other things that he starts fighting for and really starts paying attention to. And that’s going to be really pivotal for his journey and his character arc.
There’s a lot of surprises coming up. We’re shooting [season five, episode 15] right now and this season is stunning. I can’t wait for people to see it. That’s really fun, action packed and a lot of twists and turns. It’s going to be great.
The connection of the “Fear TWD” group to Negan’s Saviors
- Gene Page/AMC
Acuna: I don’t know if you realized this, but I noticed this because Dwight was a part of the Saviors, a group of wanted to save people. Running into John, June, and their group, their whole thing this season has been about helping people and saving people. I thought that they were almost, in turn, saviors. But very different from the Saviors that Dwight was a part of.
Amelio: Yeah, I think so. The major difference is there’s no Negan. There’s people that actually want to make a difference and do it in the safest possible way. And let other people know how they’re approaching it. Yeah, absolutely. There’s an aspect to that for sure.
Acuna: Yeah. I thought it was kind of funny that Dwight found some other people who are going out to do the mission that maybe Negan sought out to do in the first place.
Amelio: Yeah, yeah.