Every once in a while a TV series comes along that nicely captures the audiences needs and imagination. The reasons for this tend to be many fold; good writing, a fine ensemble cast, great location, a much loved theme tune etc etc. It also doesn’t harm if the series taps in to the cultural Zeitgeist – in this case, our seemingly never ending obsession with Zombies and the accompanying apocalypse that would come with our face-eating friends. In addition, It often helps if the series in question provides us with an iconic character, someone who strikes a particular chord not only with the target audience, but also into the wider public consciousness; Walter White, Darryl Dixon, Tyrian Lannister, Mr Spock etc etc etc. The list could go on.
I've often fantasised about my role in any potential apocalypse - part of me would like to think that I would be a fearless fighting gun-toting heroic leader who would always know what to say and what to do...... and all the while getting all the female attention that I could handle - as it were. Now while a few of you are still lying on the floor at the back in hysterical fits of laughter at the thought of me being all loved up I will readily admit the reality would more likely be different - very different. I would in truth probably be something of an arse; that guy who holds everybody back by moaning that 'We're all going to die!".....that guy who wanders off after being told to stay put and so gets his face eaten off by a marauding zombie....that guy who everyone else hates and wants to kill far more than the Zombies do.......that b**stard who got Glen killed in The Walking Dead.
The thing that I like about Murphy, Z nation's own iconic character, is that while he is a bit of an arse he has also got more than a little style and panache to go with it. This is not to say that he outshines the rest of what is undoubtedly a fine ensemble cast, because the others more than hold their own. Not to mention that they also have in their midst, Kellita Smith, a kick-ass, bad-ass babe who could lead me through the Zombie apocalypse in a feverish heartbeat any damn time.......blimey, is it getting warm in here?
Murphy, let's face it, is something of a jerk. He was a prison inmate who was bitten not long after the outbreak of the apocalypse but survived thanks to an experimental vaccine that had been forced on him by desperate Government officials. Now, while that may have been enough to royally piss someone off, it's quite clear that being regarded as the potential saviour of the human race hasn't really done much to improve his character. If anything, he's becoming more selfish, self-absorbed and cowardly as the apocalypse goes on. And still we love him.
In part this is undoubtedly due to the fine performance of actor, Keith Allan who brings no little amount of charm and panache to what could easily be an unlikable character. But who is this Keith Allan chap? Well, according to the bio section on his website.....
Keith Allan currently stars as Murphy in the new SyFy original series “Z Nation,” which premieres on September 12th 2014.
Born and raised in Sacramento, he attended The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles. He then traveled to Colorado to work in theatre, where he was awarded The Drama Critics Circle award for his performance as the Emcee in “Cabaret.” He's also lived in Seattle, where he trained and performed in regional theatre. His television credits include “Will And Grace,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” “C.S.I.,” “Enterprise” and “Mad Men” among others. As a filmmaker, he has produced, written and directed several short films including the official Sundance Film “The Big Abandoned Refrigerator Adventure,” which toured with the “Spike And Mike Sick And Twisted Film Festival." In the summer of 2011, he co-wrote and directed his first feature "11/11/11" for The Asylum, and has continued writing and acting in several features for SyFy and the Lifetime network.
In his spare time, Allan likes to write, draw, hike, garden and travel, and gets his boogie on out on the dance floor. He considers himself a novice inventor having manufactured his own line of kinetic lamps for several years.
Allan currently lives in Los Angeles with his cat Harry Johnson.
What's not mentioned in his Bio is that Keith has recently been stalked, I mean researched, by a handsome, charismatic and talented blogger based in Scotland (before you ask, that's me by the way). Not only that, but said blogger has also been followed back on Twitter by the redoubtable Mr Allan who has also accepted his friend request on Facebook. Of course once Keith realises his horrendous mistake he will no doubt chance his privacy settings to 'Anyone but that British blogger guy'. Thankfully Keith is well and truly oblivious at the moment and very politely agreed to a brief interview with yours truly just a few days ago.
I would like to go on record and give my sincere thanks for his time, it was a genuine thrill for me.......even if he wouldn't give me Kellita's telephone number.
The Interview bit.......
5D) Far be it for me to ignore the cliched 'tell us how you got into acting'. So Keith, tell us how you got into acting.
KA) I always wanted to be an actor from the time I was a kid. I started in high school doing plays and taking drama class. I was hooked early on from being obsessed with TV and movies.
5D) How did you get the role of Murphy in Z Nation?
KA) I auditioned, and auditioned and auditioned. I read for the part about 6 or 7 times before I was cast. I really didn’t think I was going to get it.
5D) Were you a fan of or horror before? If so, what's your favourite scary movie? As it were.
KA) Alien! It has everything I love... great actors, scary monster, amazing art direction and brilliant direction. I can watch it over and over again.
5D) What is it that we love about Murphy, because let's face it, he's a bit of a dick isn't he?
KA) I think the audience can sympathize with his situation of being completely out of control of his own life. He didn’t ask for any of this and now he is a prisoner of his own circumstance. Yea he makes unpopular decisions...but it’s the apocalypse....there are no easy answers.
5D) I must admit it took me a few episodes to 'get' what Z Nation was trying to do in terms of mixing humour and horror. How do you view that balance?
KA) It’s exactly what I love in horror. I come from old school horror in the 70”s and there was always some level of the ridiculous in those films...it made them fun.
5D) Do you get bored/annoyed by the comparisons of Z Nation with The Walking Dead?
KA) Not at all. I think our fans understood early on that we were not trying to be The Walking Dead. We have many crossover fans that understand there is enough room for two different types of zombie shows and they seem to enjoy them both. I think it’s great.
5D) So who would win in a fight between your group and Rick's Walking Dead group?
KA) Well no one in Ricks group can control Zombies with their mind so......
5D) What's the first thing you personally do when you get a new script - see how many lines you have..... Who dies..........if you die?!!!
KA) I give it a read through from beginning to end to see how the story unfolds. I want to make sure that it makes sense to me as it should make sense to the audience. If not then I start asking questions of the writers and Karl Schafer our show runner.
5D) So come on, spill some beans of your fellow cast.... Who is the giggler amongst you when filming?
KA) We all have our moments. We get tired and can totally screw up and get giggling. But the truth is we don’t have a lot of time so that is cut to a minimum. If I had to point a finger it would be Russell who plays Doc.
5D) I asked Russell Hodgkinson this same question..... You can get me Kellita Smiths's telephone number, right?
KA) I'm lucky I have it.
5D) Have you been surprised by the level of fan worship you seem to be getting?
KA) Well I’m surprised of the range of fans I have. Lots of kids...like young 5 and 6 year old kids to older people who I wouldn’t have guessed to be hardcore zombie fans....but boy are they ever.
5D) So apart from Z Nation, what else is in store for Keith Allan?
KA) Well I did a movie called “Kill Me Deadly” the is screening at a film noir festival in Paris this month and I believe is getting distribution soon. I’m also working on getting a film produced that I want to direct and act in called “Hearts Like Fists”. You can go to my web site www.keithallanactor.com or www.heartslikefists.com to see the teaser for the film. Dark comedy, graphic novel, crime fighter super villain...really fun. Also hit me up on twitter at @KeithAllanDuh and friend me on facebook at Keith Allan.