This fall we’ve seen our fair share of villains come forth.


No Trump jokes (they’re too easy at this point), there was the election and the pop-culture counterpoint to that seemed to be season seven of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”


With a season premiere that drew record numbers, everyone finally found out who Negan killed.


Among the survivors of Lucille’s rage, was Dr. Eugene Porter. This season has seen Josh McDermitt’s Eugene go from cowering in fear to, well, cowering in courage.


The Swerve Magazine recently spoke with McDermitt as he prepared for a trip to a convention in Pittsburgh.


The Swerve Magazine: The season....


Josh McDermitt: This season is exciting because Negan is such a great character in the comics and to see him come to life… Jeffery Dean Morgan has done such a great job with him. To really see him come to life and jump off the page is truly incredible. It is exciting to see what he injects into the storyline.


We have 850 cast members (laughs). I don’t really know, but it’s a lot, so there are a lot of storylines to follow. At least for me, I know where things are going, so to see things being set up and seeds being planted here and there for what is coming down the road is really cool. I think we are in a good place with the show.


SM: That is interesting that you bring that up like this first half of season seven seems to be a set up for things down the road.


JM: I’ve heard some fans say, “I wish that they would just show Rick.” There are other people in the story as well. We are not just taking it day-by-day and episode-by-episode; there is a plan. It includes having a storyline with one particular person, maybe, a little larger for this episode than it is for the next so that it can pay off down the road. It is called storytelling. The people that complain about it need to realize that. But then there are people like you, who said you realize that things are being set up. There are some really interesting things that the writers and producers do week-to-week. They plant little seeds. If you watch (an episode) a second time, you may catch something and go, “Oh, I can’t wait to see what comes of that.”


I just watched this weekend’s episode (“Swear”). I said I know where the story is going and what is coming, but there are little things that I forget, especially other people’s story lines because I’m not there when they are shooting. I may not pay attention to Michonne’s storyline as carefully as I would mine. But then when I watch Michoone’s story line, I’m like, “Oh, I do remember that.”

It is all going to pay off and be really great.


SM: Speaking of great, you kicked the season of in great fashion. It was a pop-culture event, “Who did Negan kill?” What was it like to be part of that?


JM: It is just cool to be apart of anything that people are talking about. There are a lot of shows that people are excited about. You hear a lot about (the shows). But, you can ask around, and not everybody watches it. I feel like with “The Walking Dead,” even if you don’t watch it, you’ve, at least, heard of it. Or, at least, you knew about what was coming in the first episode (of season seven). It was cool to be a part of, because I think that anytime you can be a part of the conversation within the pop culture, it’s great.


It is something that I look upon fondly now. I know down the road I’ll look back on it and be proud of what we did.


SM: Did you expect it to be just one person to die or was it always two?


JM: I didn’t expect it when I found the news. Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) and I had been talking. He had the feeling that he was going for awhile. Honestly, from the moment in season five, we had conversations of him saying he could see himself going at the end of season five or may be the beginning of season six. He didn’t know anything at that point, but I think he just kind of knew that his character’s shelf life was not that long.


I’m trying to think back about when I found out about him dying, even if we had introduced the idea of Negan yet. Yes. We did.


SM: The episode was intense just to watch. How was it to act in it?


JM: It was physically and emotionally draining. It was mentally draining but in the greatest way possible. I have never done anything like that in my career. I hope to do something like that again, just because at the end of the day, it was really fun. I know it seems like, “Why would you say such a dark thing?” I’m an actor. I want to go to these raw, emotional places as much as I can and stretch myself. 


I like what we did there. It wasn’t just the premier, but the two or three days that we shot last year for the finale, ended up being six or seven days of us on our knees crying. I hear some actors say, “I only had one line in this episode.” I’m not talking about people on our show, but actors in general. I didn’t have any lines in that episode, and it was still the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. It’s about connecting with your fellow actors and being so present in that scene that you, basically, forget acting, and you are just that character.


SM: There was the break between the finale and the filming of the premier, was it hard to go back to that dark place?


JM: Yes. We finished season six in late November. I remember Greg Nicotero, Ross Marquand, Michael Cudlitz and I were traveling through Europe together in, like, February or March. I remember Greg saying he was really excited to get back to work. I had said to him I don’t know if I’m ready to go back yet. I’m still exhausted. That was, like, February or March and filming from the previous November; Ross looked at me, and he nodded his head and said he felt the same way. I think Greg was a little hurt by that. It is not that I’m not excited about the show. It took so much out of us. We knew what was going to come again in May when we started shooting. I don’t think we were ready emotionally to jump back into that.


Once it happened, you see everybody there. Everybody is in character and costumes. You snap back into it, whether you are ready to or not. We were all ready to.


As much as I say I hope to get to do something like that in my career. I don’t know that I’ll ever be ready to do it because it truly sucks so much out of you.


Plus with this season, Eugene is still reeling. He is still trying to recover. I’ve spend the first part of this season so far, in a very emotional place. It is hard. I know that Norman Reedus has talked about spending an entire season crying and how he doesn't want to have to do that again because it sucks everything out of you. I, kind of, laughed at that, but I get it now. Every time you are coming to work you are having to go to these dark places in your soul to create some good work.


SM: This half of a season seems like it has been in a dark, intense place.


JM: A lot of shows might get to this point and let off the gas a little bit. I don’t think there is anyone in this cast or crew who wants to do that. We want to continue to push the boundaries. I know the writers and producers reinvent the show every eight episodes or so in terms of tone and where the story is going. They are trying to constantly make the show better. We all are. We could easily let off the gas and put it on cruise control. Creatively we can’t do that; we would be doing ourselves a disservice and the fans.