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In the current season of “The Walking Dead” Dallas Roberts has become one of the more familiar (non-rotting) faces as the mysterious tea-dispensing scientist Milton, and the actor raises his increasingly high profile even more with his long-awaited return to “The Good Wife” on Nov. 25 as Alicia’s pot-stirring brother Owen. Roberts reveals his experiences behind the scenes of TV’s scariest – and most secretive – series, as well as teasing Owen’s return, which coincides with the introduction of his character’s mother.
You've got a couple fun gigs – one that's been ongoing, and one that we're going to see very soon. Let's start with ‘Walking Dead’: What have you loved about being a part of that show?
There's so much: The actors that I've been fortunate enough to play with have been extraordinary. The world that has been Woodbury has really immersed me in a way that – it's shot in a real town, so it feels like a real town. You don't have to do all that pretending when you're looking out over the flats and crewmembers. The makeup and the effects are just so crazy fun, and the guys who control the sort of puppets and the heads and the gore and the teeth and the jaws. It's fun to show up to work every day.
What was your take on Milton? What got you excited to walk around in this guy's shoes for a while?
What I like about Milton is that he's found his little niche. He's found his little place to be in this society, and it's different than anyone else's in that he's sort of solely locked on that – to the detriment, I think, sometimes with interpersonal relationships. I don't think he's very good at politics or even conversation, and that's fun when your focus is so strong that you get to play around with what you let in and what goes over your head. I find Milton hilarious. The theory remains as to whether I'm the only one who does, but he’s a real blast.
Looking forward, what are you able to say about Milton's role in the rest of the season?
Gosh, it's so hard – They've got me on such a short leash! He could be dead the next time you see him, or he could not be dead for four more seasons. I think what you can expect from Milton is a continued struggle between his loftier ideals about what this society of Woodbury is attempting versus the reality of having to sort of fortify and arm one's self against enemies great and small.
Because the show has diverted so significantly from the comics, is it kind of a treat to read the comics as sort of an alternate take on the 'Walking Dead' story and see where that one goes as opposed to where the show's gone?
Yeah, I think they did themselves a real service by allowing themselves to sort of touch the comics and then go away and then come back. As a fan of the comics before the television show was on, much less before I was part of the television show that was on, as great as the comics are, and I still read them to this day, to have that serialized version of that, sort of note for note, would leave you with very little surprises. And I think that allows for people who haven't read the comics to have their own sort of televised world, and allows for people who have read the comic to have both worlds and get to play in both.
Tell me about returning to the ‘The Good Wife,' especially with the addition of Stockard Channing as Alicia and Owen’s mother?
When I got that news, I sort of leapt out of my pants. Julianna [Margulies] and I have had such a beautiful chemistry together throughout my time on that show, and then Stockard drops right in, full of everything that she had to offer. Yeah, it’s just really fun. I think it's going to be fun for fans of the show to meet Mom finally.
Do we see any new sides of your character?
In this episode, I think you do. I have one brother. When my brother and I are relating to each other, there's that dynamic. But when you introduce a parent next to it, then all of those old sort of tropes fall in, and people start acting differently around people and playing people against each other and that sort of thing. So I think it's deepening the relationship between Alicia and Owen as well as introducing, at least the viewers' outlook on Alicia's relationship to her mother and Owen's relationship to his mother.
Are we going to see him maybe a little more frequently as the season unfolds?
I can't say. I can say that [producers Michael and Robert] King sort of publicly suggested that that's an idea that may happen, but my knowledge of it is lacking.
What's the work transition been like for you over the last coouple of years?
It's been really interesting. When I left school in 1994, I imagined that I would hit 42 with a couple of, at least a matching set of Academy Awards, and million dollar mansions. The thoughts of a 24-year-old, so having it not work out that way, and then having it sort of come in a tiny way – though nowhere near Academy Awards just yet, but later in life! – it's been really fun and interesting. I feel like I've got the kids. I've got the lady. I've got my life sort of happening while this is happening. So this is a piece of what's happening to me, and not the entire thing, which I feel grateful for. If you would have asked the 29 year-old-me, I would have been furious. But the 42-year-old me is quite happy that it took this long.
When you've had a chance to encounter “Walking Dead” fans since you've been on the show, what do fans want to know?
It just now got started because the episodes are just starting to air, so I've been approached maybe twice: ‘Are you that scientist guy?’ And everybody wants to know what’s in the tea.