You may recognize Keith Allan as Murphy in the SyFy show “Z Nation”. Murphy has the cure for the zombie virus in his veins. With the help of a group of survivors, Murphy attempts to try to find someone who can use him to create the cure. Currently in its second season, Murphy has quickly become the star of the show. He’s the character everyone loves to hate. The man behind Murphy, Keith Allan, has agreed to offer us an exlusive look inside the mind of the man who can make zombies strip for him.
TIBS: What made you want to play the role of Murphy?
KA: In my industry, one: it was a paying job so, that’s always a plus. Like, oh, they want to pay me to do what I do? That’s fantastic, I’m in. But then as I got to know a little bit more about the show and about the role, he’s a fun character. He’s just a horrible, rotten person with a heart of gold. He does some really horrible, horrible things that make people just want to hate him and then all of a sudden he’ll do something that makes you think, like, “aww, he’s a nice guy.” It’s great to play that part of me…a character that makes bad choices but really, in the end, he’s possibly a good person. I can’t say if I know for sure that he is a good person. I think everyone has those sides to them. Everyone has done something horrible in their life that they go “oh, I wish I hadn’t done that”. It doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means that sometimes you make the wrong choice, the unpopular choice at times. And I think people can relate to him on some level. They may not like him, they may not want to go out drinking with him, but they can see a part of themselves in him. He’s having to struggle with good and bad, right and wrong all the time.
TIBS: Do you think that he feels bad for some of the decisions that he’s made?
KA: Absolutely. I don’t think that he’s the guy that is cold-hearted. I think he’s pragmatic, I think in the apocalypse you have to be, and you have to make the hard decision sometimes. A lot of the time, you have to make the hard and unpopular decision because the stakes are so high. With that being said, he definitely has a soft side to him so he’s not inhuman – even though he kind of is inhuman. Physically he’s becoming more inhuman. He’s not a cold-blooded killer by any sense of the word. I don’t think that in different circumstances, he would ever want to cause anyone harm. Because of their situation, it’s survival right now. You have to make some unpopular decisions.
TIBS: In the last episode of season one, he caused the nuclear explosion and he’s the one responsible for the Blasters, not to mention the deaths of hundreds of people and risking the lives of the people who have protected him. How do you think he handled that guilt?
KA: Well, I think part of the apocalypse is that you can’t really go back and second guess yourself because there’s no point. In Murphy’s mind, he made the best decision that he could. Seeing the situation that he was in and about to be in and seeing patient zero there as a blob of flesh on the table, he thinks, “That’s my future. That’s what is going to become of me.” And what’s this new doctor going to do to him, what’s that going to be? So I think his instincts were “get the hell out because if I’m dead, then also the human race dies too.” And so he made a fight or flight choice and he’s the kind of guy to leave. And he’s not only doing it to save his own skin, but also to save the possibility of the human race living. And so, it was a tough choice and probably most people wouldn’t see it that way, but that’s the way he has to see it. He had to do the right thing not only for himself, but for his mission.
TIBS: That kind of contradicts his actions in season two. He had pretty much given up on the idea of saving the human race. How do you think he’s handling that current situation? Does he even want to continue saving the human race or his he just going along with the rest of the group because he has to?
KA: I think it’s a little bit of both. I think he’s conflicted more and more because the more he’s on this mission, he really sees the ugly, hateful side of humanity up close and personal. He sees what human beings are capable of and it’s not always kind. It’s not always for the greater good. He sees the human race as being very selfish and very self-centered and I think he’s lost his faith in humanity – being able to do the right thing. I think that maybe the more he sees all he has to go through in order to get to the place to do the right thing, it really is changing his whole idea of what the human race is. They’re animals and they’re dangerous and they’re not necessarily looking out for the human race themselves. The whole bounty hunter thing that’s going on now, people aren’t about saving the human race, they’re about making a buck. I think he’s very jaded about what this mission could be and should be at this point. I don’t think he has a great faith in the human race at this point. That being said, at this point in the game he has to rely on the group to keep him alive. Because now he’s got all these bounty hunters after him and god only knows what’ll happen to him if he falls into the wrong group of people. They may want to chain him up and put him in a box or something so he’s choosing the lesser of two evils at this point.
TIBS: Do you think he sympathizes more with the zombies or with humans?
KA: You know, at this point he’s becoming more sympathetic to the zombies because the more that his DNA is changing and the more he becomes less than a human being and the more the virus is taking over his body, the more he understands what these zombies are and what they are going through. And he sees them as something completely different. He doesn’t see them as monsters. I think he has a great sympathy not only for what they’re going through, but also for the way they are treated. They’re treated like meat bags and target practice. I think he’s trying to say, “Maybe you guys got it all wrong. Maybe you just don’t understand these zombies. Maybe you’re not digging deep enough to figure it out.” So I think he has more sympathy for the zombies right now. Because, you know, the humans aren’t doing so great.
TIBS: Well I think Doc almost figured that out too. In “Full Metal Zombie”, he was smoking weed with –
a zombie and it seemed kind of human. Do you think that the zombies will react to the weed in the future?
KA: I do. The whole premise of that is sort of laid out a little in the last episode when I smoke it myself and also when I give a little bit to Cassandra. She becomes more conscious and more coherent than she has been since I bit her. She was able to speak, which she hasn’t really done since then. Her words have been sort of limited. But when she gets a little high, she becomes more aware, more conscious, more human like. So I think the Z Weed is a part of the key to that. It’s going open some doors to what the zombies are.
TIBS: Do you think that Murphy ever cares about someone other than himself? Would he ever risk his life for the people that have risked theirs for him?
KA: Yes. I do. I think it surprises him. I don’t think he wants to be a caring guy who really cares about anything but himself. It’s not necessarily what he goes to. I think he surprises himself when he does actually have an emotional connection with the group and with other people that he encounters. When you have traveled and been through with as much as I have with this group of people, you can’t help but form this bond. Friendship may be stretching it, but because of the traumatic and the harsh experience you’re going through, you’re all surviving it together and that’s going to form a bond with these people that you actually start to care about them. You’ve been this far, you’ve made it this far, you’ve gotten this far, you wouldn’t want to see them not make it to the end, not make it to the finish. Even when mac died in episode two, he did care that he died. It did hit home with him.
TIBS: In “Home Sweet Zombies”, he managed to find food and water for his group but in doing that, he left other people to die. Why do you think he did that?
KA: Well, there’s a couple of reasons. One, he had to make a really tough decision. He knew that these people, they weren’t going to make it. The town that they were in, and the situation they were in, they weren’t going to survive. They weren’t fighters. And my crew needed the food and water. We needed to survive more than they did because we are on a mission that’s more important than these people. It’s a tough decision to make, but when you’re looking at it from a pragmatic sense of “If I don’t live, and these people don’t live, the human race doesn’t live.” So I had to make a tough choice. And then he lets the father in, and basically reunites the family. So in a sense he’s giving them mercy to be with each other in a weird zombie sense. He’s reuniting the family and moving on and kind of has to walk away knowing that he made the best decision that he could.