SPOILERS for Fear the Walking Dead will be found below.
When an actor as popular as longtime character actor Garret Dillahunt is killed off of a television series, there’s a pretty good chance that it was his decision and not necessarily the showrunners’ idea. That was exactly the case with Dillahunt, whose character, John Dorie, was killed off of Fear The Walking Dead in last week’s midseason premiere, one of the most devastating episodes ever in The Walking Dead universe.
In fact, the timing of the pandemic was unfortunate for Dillahunt, who had shot everything in his final episode except for his death scene before the pandemic shut down production. After being home for months for the pandemic, Dillahunt was glad to be back on set to see his old friends, but he was only there for a few days before he had to leave again. “And then you’re gone,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “And it’s COVID conditions on a set, so you can’t really go hug everybody, or give everybody smooches, and squeezes, and wish them well properly.”
Dillahunt also admitted that they’d been talking about his exit since Season Five. Ultimately, however, it was Dillahunt’s decision to leave the series. “I loved my time on this show and will always cherish it,” he told EW. “I get a little antsy after a while, and I’m not a kid anymore, and I have some things I wanted to do. And I’m just fortunate it worked out.”
Dillahunt was also grateful that they were willing to give him a proper exit. “I just feel very fortunate that they were willing to hear it, and consider it, and then come up with a great idea that made everybody happy,” he said.
The Deadwood actor has plenty on his plate, too, in a number or projects he was attached to before the pandemic that, like Fear, were delayed. Next month, he’ll be in another zombie project, Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead for Netflix. He’s also set to star in James Franco’s The Long Home; Blonde, an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ fictionalized version of Marilyn Monroe’s life; and Michael Bay’s Ambulance. He also recently signed on as one of the leads in the adaptation of Where the Crawdads Sing.
Dillahunt, however, had nothing but fond things to say about his stint on Fear. “Even if you want off a show, it’s never easy to leave one. There’s seldom real bad blood or something like that. It’s often just time. And in this case, I like everyone so much,” he told EW. He described his ending as “beautiful,” and “sweet and sad, the bittersweet,” and promised to stay in touch with the fanbase. “I’m real excited for what the future holds, and I’m real happy. And I’m really excited to stay in touch with the fans. I’ll see you on the circuit, and John exists, and Garret’s still alive. John will always exist. And he was a great character. I was honored to play him.”
Viewers of Fear, meanwhile, were honored to see him and appreciate the role he played in creatively resurrecting the series. As fans will see in this week’s episode, however, the show is clearly able to keep up the momentum even without the beloved John Dorie.