Dallas Roberts, who plays Milton, on AMC’s The Walking Dead wasn’t really sure what to expect when he joined the series.
“The show has chosen to deal with this rabid fandom by being super secretive with its information, so the part I auditioned for was Milton, but his name wasn’t Milton on the sides,” he said in an interview with Vulture. “The scene had him talking to some woman who…I don’t remember what her name was. It just was a fake scene written to audition people for a sort of nerdy scientist-y kind of guy. It never appeared in any scripts.
“The description probably said, ‘bookish, uncomfortable around people, more in love with his books and instruments than people,’ but auditions don’t tend to be a forthcoming place in terms of information about the show. You just kind of put your spin on it and cross your fingers.”
In fact, Roberts wasn’t the only one who wasn’t entirely sure what his character would be about. The writers had yet to finalize who Milton would be, since he’s one of the few characters who didn’t make an appearance in the original comic books.
“[The writers] were sort of finding Milton along with me at the beginning,” he said. “They were like, ‘He’s a scientist,’ and then they’d come back and go, ‘He’s not a scientist; he’s just a smart guy who is trying to do science,’ and then they’d go, ‘No, he’s definitely a scientist.’ ‘No, he’s not.’ We were sort of skirting that middle ground for a long time. Eventually, he just becomes a guy who…well, he’s not in the lab much anymore. [Laughs.] He’s a terrible scientist!”
The only thing Roberts doesn’t like about his gig? His character doesn’t really get into any of the zombie killing action. “My first day on set, the makeup lady was very specific: ‘No dirt on Milton. He can never get dirty,’” Roberts recalled. “And I thought, Oh, that’s interesting.”
The Walking Dead airs on AMC, Sundays at 9 p.m.