Recently, PopGeeks.net got the chance to speak with actor Keith Allan, the star of the hit SyFy TV series Z Nation, which is currently in the middle of its second season. Keith Allan portrays the survivor character Murphy; a convicted felon who was involuntarily injected with an experimental zombie vaccine after a zombie apocalypse had overtaken the world. The vaccine had some interesting side effects, and now Murphy seems to have some special powers — almost like a human/zombie mutant hybrid. However, his goals routinely come into conflict with that of the other survivors in the series.
Allan is an experienced writer and director, having written and directed the feature film 11/11/11. Later on, he landed the lead role of Murphy on Z Nation. Allan read for the role seven times before securing it. His previous acting work also includes shows such as Star Trek: Enterprise; Scrubs; CSI: Crime Scene Investigation; Dragnet; and Mad Men. Here is what Allan had to say on continuing his role of Murphy in the zombie-stricken world of Z Nation:
Jeffrey Harris: Do you consider Murphy on Z Nation an anti-hero, a villain or the hope for the future like the Paul McCartney song?
Keith Allan: *Laughs* All of the above. I would probably say villain is not correct. He’s justified in the horrible things that – or that people might see as horrible. I think he’s got pretty good vindication of what his choices have been with his life. The guy has been treated like a lab rat in a prison over the last three or four years of his life now. I think, quite frankly, he’s feeling tired of it. I think, rightly so, that he’s got some scores to settle.
Jeffrey Harris: The government made him what he is. They injected him with the vaccine and it was not voluntary.
Keith Allan: That’s right. Exactly.
Jeffrey Harris: That’s technically not his fault. And he went to jail for postal fraud. It’s not like he killed anyone…before he went to jail.
Keith Allan: Right. He was in prison for a lame ass crime, and all of a sudden, he’s the government’s bitch. And then on top of that, he’s now a prisoner outside of prison. This guy is a little over it as far as being told what to do, when to stand. What we’re seeing now is Murphy finally getting some of his own strength coming into play. He’s close to finally figuring maybe he’s not as vulnerable as what he once thought he was.
Jeffrey Harris: As the series progresses, do you think Murphy and the survivors’ interests will ever align, or do you think they will continue to veer off in opposite directions?
Keith Allan: You know, I think that is the challenge for the show. If Murphy just went along, “Sure, let’s just do this,” then you wouldn’t have much of a show. The more that Murphy pushes back, the more interesting the journey is because he’s also seen things from a whole different world now. The more he becomes less human, the more he begins to realize, “Maybe what you want is not the best thing for mankind or the human race. Maybe there’s a broader picture that you aren’t even imagining because you are so used to what you know.” It makes him a bit of a…I wouldn’t say prophet…but he’s got a little more insight into the possibilities than humans have. Humans are saying, “We just want it back the way it was.” He’s saying, “Maybe that’s not the best thing to happen.” That’s going to be the conflict between him and the rest of the survivors for a while now. I think the more that he evolves in this area, the more those questions are going to have more weight to them.
Jeffrey Harris: What concerns me is that I don’t think we can consider Murphy a human any longer. He’s more like a hybrid or mutant of sorts. I’m not sure if his DNA can create a cure or solution to the zombie problem that the survivors of humanity would be happy with. That’s interesting, but what do you think about that?
Keith Allan: I think that Murphy is an evolving organism at this point. So, I think that’s exactly right. We’re not exactly sure where he stands on the evolutionary scale as far as being the cure. But at this point, he’s the best thing they got. The mere fact that he has not gone completely zombie is the one thing that the survivors have going for them. He still has the zombie virus in him and has not become a flesh-eating, mindless monster.
Jeffrey Harris: Do you ever think that maybe what Murphy currently is now could be what is the final evolution for zombies, or maybe what zombies started out as?
Keith Allan: I don’t think Murphy knows exactly what they started out as, but he certainly thinks it’s a possibility. I have that great line in episode two to Cassandra. She goes, “I’m not a zombie.” I go, “I know. You’re better.” And so he’s seeing that what he is – he’s actually sort of becoming more aware of what he is and really digging. He’s like, “Wow. I’ve got something that no one else has. I’m better than humans. I’ll survive the apocalypse. They won’t”
Jeffrey Harris: What also concerns me is that your baby mama, Serena, is back in the picture. And she has a mutant baby in her womb. I’m not sure we want to meet this baby because the things this baby is doing before it’s even born are already freaking me out. This baby has super powers and knows where you are.
Keith Allan: *Laughs * Right. I would say be prepared to get even more freaked out because I think they are making this baby a bit of a wild card. We don’t even know what it’s capable of, and we don’t know what’s even going to come out when she does give birth. Even Murphy is a little afraid of it. I think it is the unknown. We have no idea what this creature could become. It’s a whole mix of all kinds of DNA now. I think that’s what the writers are really going for. They don’t want to settle on this baby being exactly like Murphy. It will be something different.
Jeffrey Harris: In recent years, we’ve seen a hard push by the SyFy channel back to narrative TV and narrative drama. Z Nation has been a part of that. We’ve seen the emergence of a lot more narrative shows back on SyFy. What is it like for the network to be part of this new era of sorts, back to science fiction?
Keith Allan: I think it’s great. I think they’re taking a gamble on trusting that the audience is going to want to see science fiction that really involves strong characters. I think that’s a testament that the audience is going to want the monsters, the horror, and the scare stuff and the human story behind these people. I think the right thing they are doing with Z Nation is that we get to see who these people are and what makes them tick and how they are conflicted with what they are having to do. It becomes more about our relationships with each other. I think that’s one of the strongest points of the show: How we interact with each other and how we abuse each other and don’t respect each other. I love it, because from an actor’s point of view, it’s just not interesting for me to run around and kill monsters all day. You want to engage with people, and you want to have those conversations. You want to get a little deeper about what makes this guy tick. Why would he be doing this? Why would he care? Why would he not care? I think that’s one thing that’s resonating with the audience. You get to flesh out these characters, and the audience feels like they get to know them a little bit.
Jeffrey Harris: What’s the status on the production of season two?
Keith Allan: We’re done. I finished on Monday, a week ago. I think they had a few more days of shooting with DJ Qualls, who plays Citizen Z, but they’re done. We’re done shooting. Now it’s all about post-production, so there is still editing, doing CGI on some of the upcoming episodes, and coloring and all the post-production stuff. All of it will be done in the coming months as the show continues to air.
Jeffrey Harris: What do you think Murphy wants at this point?
Keith Allan: I think he wants to be his own man. I think he wants his life back. That means he has to be rid of these people. But, that being said, he can’t have that right now because everyone wants a piece of him. Really his best bet is with Warren and the group because they know him and they have a bit of empathy for him. Some of these bounty hunters might just put him in chains and lock him in a box. I think he wants his freedom. He wants to have the power of choice in his own life, which he gets to do a bit here and there. He’ll run away, but he’s no fool. He knows that he’s a wanted man, so he’s got to be careful. These people will kill for him, and he needs that right now.
Jeffrey Harris: What’s the word on season three?
Keith Allan: There has been no word yet. I don’t know. Usually, we’ll find out within the next month if we’re up for season three.
Jeffrey Harris: Do you have any other projects you’re working on now?
Keith Allan: I have a film that I am trying to get produced. If you go to my website, KeithAllanActor.com, under upcoming projects I have a film I shot the opening seven minutes for to shop it around to try and get producers interested in it. Now that I’m back, I’m going to start putting my energy to get that off my ground. It’s based on a play I did in Los Angeles a couple of years ago. It’s kind of a graphic novel, dark comedy, crime-fighter, super-villain piece. It’s very stylized. It’s very funny and dark. It’s a great piece. That’s one thing I’m going to throw my energy to try and get that happening.
Jeffrey Harris: What do you remember on getting to be a part of the Star Trek saga with Star Trek: Enterprise?
Keith Allan: For me, I grew up with Star Trek, the original. I was thrilled to death to be on that set and getting to do that. I had extensive makeup on that show.
Jeffrey Harris: Right because you were a Suliban?
Keith Allan: I was. Ooh, very good. I’m impressed that you know that. Yes, I was Raan the Suliban. I was in makeup probably five hours for that, at least. Five or six I think. Just the mere fact that in between shooting that I would wander around the set, and I was like, “Oh my god! I’m standing in a transporter room! How awesome is this?!” It was a bit of a dream come true. I was playing a bit of a tough Suliban, and I broke the Captain’s chair on the set. We’re doing this scene where I have to strong arm this guy, and I throw him in the Captain’s chair. I threw him a little too hard, and the chair became detached from the Enterprise. It was kind of like, “Oh s***! I broke the Enterprise!”
Jeffrey Harris: You should own it. That could be like your badge of honor. How many actors can say they broke the captain’s chair on the bridge of the Enterprise? I don’t think William Shatner can say that.
Keith Allan: Yeah right. I know.
Jeffrey Harris: Thanks so much for your time. Congratulations on the second season. Here’s to Z Nation getting a third season, six seasons and a movie and all that.
Keith Allan: Thank you sir.
Thank you to Keith Allan for taking time to speak with us. New episodes of Z Nation are currently airing on Friday on SyFy. You can check out more of Keith Allan on his website KeithAllanActor.com, his Twitter @KeithAllanDuh, Instagram and Facebook page. Allan is also looking forward to meeting fans on the convention circuit soon. He will be appearing at Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition, he is set to appear at conventions all across the world, including some in Milan and Germany.