INTERVIEW: Fear The Walking Dead’s Daniel Sharman on playing the complex Troy Otto
Fear The Walking Dead has gone from strength to strength in its third season, and one of the highlights has been the introduction of the charismatic and dangerous Troy Otto.
We sat down with Daniel Sharman, who portrays Troy, ahead of Monday’s midseason premiere to talk about the complex character and motives of Troy and what it’s like to play him.
How’s your eye?
It’s recovering [Laughs]. His capacity to heal is quite a wonderful thing. I thought I was going to have this prosthetic thing on my eye indefinitely but his ability to heal has been quite remarkable. I thought I was going to have to wear a patch and having a patch taped over your eye, it does some weird perception things that really mess with you. I was like this is going to be a rough seven months, but I got out of eye jail pretty quickly.
The word ‘sociopath’ gets thrown around a bit with regards to Troy. Do you think that’s fair?
No, I don’t. I think ultimately he does feel. I don’t think he’s doing it out of the enjoyment of killing. I wanted to take the ‘sociopath’ element of it really to be taken away. You don’t have to agree with his actions but you at least have to understand that they came from somewhere. I think playing a sociopath is almost easier because it’s without any ramifications and there’s no real identification with the world in that way. I think it was more interesting not to play into that stereotype. That was important to me, that that’s not the only thing you see. You see that he’s doing it for a reason – or at least that he thinks he’s doing it for a reason.
Do you think Troy sees himself as the hero of his own story?
What was important to me was that you understood [that] he’s not in love with the idea of blood. It’s not about bloodlust, it’s not about killing, it’s about understanding something. His ideology is incredibly important to him.
I use the analogy that it’s like the people who eat meat who don’t want to see how an animal’s been killed but want to eat the meat. Troy’s the one that does the killing of the animals, so you can eat the meat. So you can’t morally tell me that it’s wrong that I’m doing this.
That was really important. They’re quite happy to accept the bounty of what he has done and I think that’s the irony and that’s something that I really identify with. There’s hypocrisy there. That’s where a lot of Troy’s anger comes from, his volatility, his sheer hypocrisy of it, you’re quite happy for me to go and kill a load of people and zombies when you need it but suddenly now that we’re all here and we’re all in this place it’s not right. I just think that’s a lot of what his arc is.
How hard is it to leave Troy’s troubled mindset behind at the end of the day?
You get used to parts of the job, but I don’t think you’ll ever be really used to having to put yourself in such an odd place. I do think it affects you. We also shot in the most solitary locations. Sometimes it’s harder to take it off because you’re dealing very introspectively. I’m a bit of an introvert anyway so when you have to access those things and go on that little journey and you don’t have anyone to go ‘knock it off, relax mate’ you’re in trouble.
It was tough, but it’s part of the job. You have to do that and you have to go there and you have to be okay with revealing that stuff. It’s funny because we stopped filming two weeks ago, it’s still hard letting go. I wanna defend him. I wanna defend his actions, and I feel like I’m still there championing this person.
How would you describe Troy and Madison’s relationship?
Troy finally has someone he identifies with. I think what he identifies is the ambition of Madison and the manipulation of human beings. He looks at that and goes ‘wow, this is really a strong person’. She’s probably the first person he’s really respected, and there are all kinds of emotions that are locked up in that, which I love, which was great playing with Kim [Dickens]. I think there’s a fascinating relationship there. There’s a lot of emotions Troy’s experiencing for the first time with her.