‘Fear the Walking Dead’: Austin Amelio on Dwight’s Shocker & Working With Rats

Spoiler Alert
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[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 3, “Alaska.”]

It’s about time Dwight (Austin Amelio) gets his due. The lovelorn, former Savior, who originally appeared on The Walking Dead, made a cross-country trek in a seemingly futile search of his wife, Sherry (Christine Evangelista). At the same time, the actor transitioned to spinoff Fear the Walking Dead in Season 5.

In “Alaska,” fans finally get the highly-anticipated reunion, as Dwight and Sherry share a tearful, loving embrace in the episode’s final moments. The joyous encounter comes after plenty of hardship, though. The episode focuses on former journo Al (Maggie Grace) and Dwight, scoping out spots for Virginia, recording what happened to the people there, and scavenging for supplies. It’s during a personal side mission — where Al tries to reconnect with her helicopter flyin’ lady — that Dwight winds up being the one lucky in love.

Below, Amelio previews what’s to come for Dwight and Sherry, and how he felt about crawling through a tunnel filled with rats.

First, it was so great to see Dwight and Sherry have this major moment. How was shooting this emotional reunion scene?

Austin Amelio: It was good! I’m just glad it paid off for me and Christine. That was a big part of [Dwight’s] story for a long time. I just tried not to put too much pressure on the outcome of the scene and tried to be in it with her. But it was really, really cool that they were able to get her back because I didn’t know if that was going to happen or not. [I thought] they were going to make him fall in love with someone else and have that be a whole thing, and so, it’s cool that it worked out the way that it did.

Colman Domingo, your costar, directed this episode. Did he give you any special direction on the big moment?

I don’t know if he specifically told me what to do with it. That’s the beauty of Colman, he just lets you figure it out and test out what’s going on in your head, your ideas. It was so long ago, though, so I can’t remember exactly. But he’s such an awesome director. It felt free and up to us, how we wanted to go about it.

Can you tease anything about what Sherry’s been up to in their time apart?

I can’t! It really unfolds in an interesting way, so I just want everyone to keep watching. It’s strange for [Dwight], strange for her. I’m not going to say if it’s good, or bad, or whatever, but just keep watching! This season is so cool because every episode really starts and finishes. There’s a beginning, middle, and end, and it’s like you’re watching a film. You get a lot more on-screen and you get to go deeper with the characters.

This season has been really cinematic, and there’s been plenty of comparisons to movies for each episode. Which film would you say served as inspiration for Episode 603?

There were references and inspiration, and sort of Die Hard, they were saying stuff like that. It was also its own thing. It definitely felt like a new world for me, because I don’t think there’s ever been an episode where I’ve smiled, or you know, had fun. We were just coming from hiatus, so it felt like I was on Mars. But yeah, there were Die Hard references, which was cool.


Ryan Green/AMC

Speaking of having fun, we also see Dwight’s friendship with Al in this episode, which is so sweet, and I really loved the pairing. What do you think makes their partnership was so seamless?

Well, for one, the other actor has to have an ease about them, and be open on-screen. The second thing is, [Al and Dwight] been together for a while at this point, and they’ve been through this together a bunch, and we just wanted it to feel like it was real brother-sister, like ‘I’ve got your back, you’ve got mine,’ you know? And I think it was the episode too, which lends itself to that [friendship]. Maggie’s an awesome actress. We had never really worked together before, or done anything together on the show.

The scene where Al and Dwight crawl through the ducts — were you actually in close quarters with rats while you were shooting?

Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah. They’re just like, ‘the rats are fun,’ and they let them out in this tunnel you have to crawl through, and there’s like fifty to a hundred? I honestly can’t remember. It feels like there’s a thousand. I didn’t like it. I’m not a fan. They were cute, but they’re rats.

Who would you say handled it better, you or Maggie?

Probably Maggie. [Laughs]

Did they make you do a lot of takes?

Not too many, and they had everything set up before we got there, which made it go even quicker.

Well, hopefully, Colman wouldn’t want to torture you too much, with that kind of scene.

[Joking] I don’t know, he’s an evil man.

Dwight and Sherry will be back in Episode 605, “Honey,” which is going to see them team up. What can you say about that?

It’s an unfurling of what’s been going on. We get to find out reasons why Dwight’s doing what he’s doing, and Sherry’s doing what she’s doing, and you also get to watch them try to make their lives align. I don’t think that’s easy when you’ve been apart for a long time. There’s so much involved, but it gets really, really good.

Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC