I knew him from Z Nation as the arrogant and selfish, yet lovable Murphy, but he’s been around enough in the world of television to make himself popular with kids and adults alike. Keith Allan has been on Wizards of Waverly Place, Big Time Rush, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Scrubs, and even the hit show Mad Men! With such a wide array of projects under his belt, he has plenty of television experience for his big role in Z Nation. I had the amazing opportunity to speak with this man, and learned a lot about the person behind the rotting flesh.
Keith was already forking for Asylum when they pitched him the idea of auditioning for a post-apocalyptic show, and he went for it. After seven auditions for his part, he got Murphy and three days later, he was shooting. “It was all very fast,” he laughed. He spent his drive to the shooting site pondering his character, pulling the personality and the emotion from within himself. Upon shooting, he’d channeled into the sassy, self-absorbed half-zombie we all know and love.
Armed with his wit and his undying devotion to himself, Murphy has been called the “perfect villain” by some. His drive to survive and come out on top has given us some amazing looks into the mind and abilities he holds. Bitten by a zombie, yet alive due to incredible anti-bodies his DNA carries (thanks to the fictional corrupted and desperate prison systems for forcing him to get an experimental vaccine), Murphy is sought after by those who would both use his DNA for good, and for malicious purposes. Aware that he really is “humanity’s last hope”, he does all he can to put himself ahead of all else. “Selfish is part of his survival skills in this world,” Kieth says. And wouldn’t it be for all of us in such a situation? “People being kind or having a good heart is an exception. It’s more like, ‘How do I get through this day and still be alive by the end of it?'”
Keith understands the deeper desire to survive takes over the desire to be, well, a good human being. “Murphy is really doing what most people are doing, which is to get through each day alive, and sometimes that is making unpopular choices.” Over time, the people who originally were his captors on the trip to California end up growing on him and Keith observes that he “becomes fond of them, but probably won’t admit it,” like a form of Stockholm syndrome. Still, he is a coward and a massive jerk in the end of it all, intelligent and powerful, and someone who takes advantage at every turn.
When talking about the upcoming changes in the remainder of season 2, Keith says there’s “not a lot of room for sentimentality,” but then again…Murphy is about to become a father. I asked Keith what he thought about the impending birth of his zom-baby with Pie Girl, and whether or not he thought it would change Murphy on a deeper level. Keith agreed with me that Murphy might have a change for the better and find himself head over heels in love with his child. “I think that there is something about seeing your child for the first time, that changes any parent.” He says seriously. “All bets are off now.”
Did he think that Murphy was a bad guy, or really good at heart beneath it all? It’s common knowledge that Murphy is never really adverse to using his telekinesis abilities to control the infected or others with his DNA (Zombie strippers, Murphy? Really?), and he rarely has any humility or manners. But underneath it all, Keith is also convinced that Murphy is a good man, and finds humor and unabashed strength in his character. “He’s unapologetic about it. And in a way, some of the other characters in the way they interact in the world, they’re very determined. It’s survival of the fittest,” he tells me.
I think I speak for all of the Z Nation fans of the world when I say that I hope there is a third season! I’m personally excited for the birth of this baby (tune in today to see it!) and to watch as Murphy’s fatherly instincts come out of him. He is a more primal being after all, and as Keith said, there is a new focus in any parent’s mind when they see their child for the first time. Although I’m sure Murphy is not going to become Dad-Of-The-Year, and is likely to nurse his baby with zombie guts or human blood, I believe that the good he holds deep down in his rotting heart will come out and give us a sickly-sweet side of him that we may not be entirely prepared for, but we will definitely welcome, and that Keith might enjoy playing.