This interview was held by Rick123Axel.
Jason Douglas portrays Tobin on The Walking Dead.
What role have you had within The Walking Dead?
Since season 5, I’ve been a recurring guest on the show, as the construction crew supervisor ‘Tobin’ in the Alexandria ‘Safe Zone.’
Outside of The Walking Dead, what would fans know you best for?
It’s crazy meeting fans in person and finding out where they’ve seen my work! My career so far has been a scattershot of projects in different genres, from recurring and guest roles on shows like Nashville, Revolution, Breaking Bad, Longmire, and Friday Night Lights, to feature films like No Country for Old Men and Parkland. Fans of Robert Rodriguez have seen me in Sin City, Machete, and on the El Rey Network in From Dusk Til Dawn: The Series. And if nothing else, you’ve probably at least seen me as the Sheriff in the trailer for the new Tom Cruise movie, Jack Reacher: Never Go Back.
And then there’s my voice-over career, which includes over 200 Anime and video game titles. For those fans, I’m probably best known for my work as ‘Beerus the Destroyer’ in the new Dragon Ball films, games and series, and as ‘Krieg the Psycho’ in the video game Borderlands 2.
What was it like working on Sin City?
Sin City was only the second feature film I’d done up to that point—I came from a theatre background, and I was still learning the technical process of working on camera. I was a big fan of Rodriguez back then and had just read his book, Rebel Without a Crew, so getting to work for him and for Frank Miller, and to share screen time with Mickey Rourke, really felt like a master class. I recall Mickey being more or less absorbed by his character, which can be tough to maintain with so many technical things happening around you on set. This was very instructive for me.
Your character from Revolution, Garret seemed to be the polar opposite of friendly Tobin. Could you talk a little bit about how you approached this role? Do you prefer taking on these villainous roles?
With Garret, there was probably a latent cruelty that was revealed and hardened by the amoral reality of life after the apocalypse, so in that regard he’s not that different from the various survivors of The Walking Dead, including, at times, Rick’s group. Roles like this are fun to play because they tend to be action-oriented, both physically, and in the sense of making bold, dramatic choices that bring protagonists to their point of crisis. The real challenge is bringing compellingly human characters to life regardless of their particular villainy. That we all have within us a propensity for evil or nobility is a fascination of all great storytelling, and for me, it plays out whether I’m portraying a murderous thug or a doting father. Of course, good writing is the indispensable element here.
As you have starred within a few different productions with the supernatural and undead, have you thought about your own apocalypse plan if the flesh hungry dead were to rise?
As a kid I was fascinated by mystery and the unknown, and so was naturally drawn to sci-fi and fantasy stuff. These days, I’d say I’m pretty grounded in reality, which is frightening enough on its own.
How did you get your role within the show?
I had auditioned for several roles over the first few seasons, including Merle Dixon, and Otis, Hershel’s farm hand. Then in fall of 2014, the opportunity arose to read for a character named ‘Travers,’ a construction supervisor, described as “an Everyman, all-around good guy, well-meaning but ill-equipped leader with a blue-collar background.” I couldn’t find any info on a ‘Travers’ character from the Walking Dead universe, so I auditioned more or less blindly—the odd, short script involved Travers dealing with an accident at his construction site, and its aftermath. It seemed to take place in our current time period, no zombies involved, and no other TWD characters. Within a week or so of auditioning, I was informed that I’d been cast, but that, for some reason, the character name had changed—to ‘Tobin.’ Of course, that was the role I’d been reading for all along.
What factor of the show helped you most when getting into character?
I think the costumes and the setting bring you right into it. Particularly the brutal Georgia summer heat.
Tobin's first scene consisted of him speaking to and offering Carol some lessons when they meet in the armoury. Do you know if the writers were always planning on the relationship between the pair?
I don’t know that the writers had really conceived of a Carol/Tobin pairing at that point, but I felt like it was important to convey some core elements of Tobin’s character, since we were really just meeting him for the first time. The script for that scene sort of teed up an opportunity to do that. So I went for it. You have Carol, playing the vulnerable, naive version of herself, and Tobin simply responding to that, trying to assure her that she is safe, among friends, and that she is welcome in the community. Tobin is not a lovestruck teenager, but a grown man who has lived life and seen his share of hardship and grief. So obviously I think there was more to the exchange than simple flirting, but I agree that a seed was planted that enabled our writers to justify seeing those characters connect romantically later on. And I think it does make sense, if you consider the context. Tobin and Carol are mature adults who have lost people they care about, and share kind of a working class background that enables them to easily relate. We see this as they share that cigarette on the porch.
Despite being portrayed as one of the safe-zone's friendliest characters, he did seem willing to leave Francine to die. How do you think her death would've affected Tobin?
I think that both show Tobin and comic Tobin were complicit in perpetuating a non-aggressive, sort of selfish defensive approach that saved some and killed others. I don’t believe Tobin was exclusively to blame for this, in fact it’s the culture that pervades the Alexandrian way of doing things, and a failure to adapt, that Rick & company set about correcting. Remember that when he’s confronted by Abraham in the construction yard after the Francine incident, Tobin keeps insisting, “We have a system!” So that system, however faulty, was presumably understood and agreed upon by the entire community. That Tobin sort of repents from this way of thinking, handing his duties over to Abraham and placing himself under the instruction and authority of Rick’s group, suggests for me that Tobin is a bellwether for the whole community. As goes Tobin, so goes Alexandria.
Do you believe Tobin's kind nature and the fact he didn't attack the savior outpost with the others may leave him venerable to attack from Saviours in the future or do you believe he would be strong enough to fight back like fellow Alexandrians Aaron and Heath have begun to?
I think we’ve seen that Tobin has evolved and can fight for survival just as he did in the season six mid-season finale, when the horde invades the community. Kindness is not weakness; it does not negate having a sense of justice and a willingness to defend the vulnerable—in fact, I’d say they come from the same well.
Where would you want the writers to take Tobin?
It would be interesting to see Tobin face a leadership crisis similar to the one he faced in the construction yard with Francine. Obviously that would involve him having been entrusted with some big responsibilities within the group or community. It would be nice to see some resolution of the Carol/Tobin relationship. Also Tobin references a family in episode 516, but we’ve never met them on screen. He could be referring to the Alexandrian community as his family, of course, but it’s reasonable to assume he had a wife at some point, and a child or two. Whether they are dead or alive, and how they got separated, would make a compelling little story, I think.
Were there anymore scenes that didn't make it past post-production with you in them?
There was a bit more to that first Carol/Tobin porch scene. Some interesting conversation leading up to the kiss. I wish it could have stayed in, because there was some lovely dialogue that I thought revealed Tobin as a deeper thinker than we’ve been shown so far. Maybe it’ll show up as an outtake somewhere.
What is the atmosphere like on the set of such a serious, dramatic show?
It’s mostly a laid back and fun-loving group of folks, both in the cast and on the crew. Everyone enjoys hanging out with each other, joking, telling stories, that sort of thing. Of course it can get somber when we’re pushing through a particularly dark story line.
Do you have any interesting or funny stories from your time on the set?
I’ll just say that Ross Marquand and Seth Gilliam should both be doing standup somewhere. They are hilarious. Maybe they should do a comedy tour with Josh.
What is it like working with cast members such as Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Melissa McBride (Carol)?
It’s always a thrill to have scenes with Andy and Melissa, as they're not only terrific actors but great people to spend time with. No matter who your favorite character is, I think Andy really anchors the show both on-screen and off. His dedication really sets a great tone for the rest of the cast, and no matter how tough the shoot, he always seems to be in great spirits.
If you had to describe Tobin in one word what would it be?
What is the best thing about working of The Walking Dead?
Has to be the people. Cast, crew, and fans. Its a great big family of folks from different backgrounds and persuasions working and playing together.
What advice would you give to readers trying to break into the entertainment industry?
I’d probably try to talk them out of it! There are thousands of job descriptions under the heading of “entertainment industry,” but I’ll assume you’re referring to acting. Look, I’d love to just say “follow your dreams!” but the reality is it’s a tough, unforgiving career path and is definitely not for everyone. I’m in my early forties, and most of your readers probably never heard of me until I showed up as Tobin on ‘The Walking Dead.’ It’s been a long climb just to get here, and I’m not even a series regular. So if you can find something other than acting that you love to do, are good at, and can make a living, then DO THAT. If you absolutely must pursue this kind of work, then start locally. Get in a reputable class where your work will be honestly evaluated. Read voraciously. Go see theatre, watch highly regarded films and television. As you progress, and if you choose to stick with it, you’ll begin to learn about other classes, audition opportunities, etc. The path to success is often elusive, and different for everyone.
Are you currently working on anything interesting that you can reveal?
The big news of late is that the English-language dub of the new “Dragon Ball Super” series will be airing in prime time during the Adult Swim/Toonami block starting on January 7. I voice the powerful cat-like super-being Beerus, who can destroy entire planets with a flick of his finger—but can often be satiated by the local cuisine.
I also have a nice scene in the upcoming final season of HBO’s The Leftovers.
And although this is not exactly new, I’d love it if your readers would check out the indie film TWO STEP (currently on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or iTunes). It’s a crime thriller written and directed by up-and-comer Alex R. Johnson, and I play a small-town crime boss. We made this film a couple of years ago, and I’m really proud of the work everyone put into it.
Thank you again on behalf of the entire wiki! We appreciate it very much!
The honor is mine, and thanks for all you guys do to support the show and the actors. We feel the love!!