Keith Allan is all about zombies. In fact, he’s now the savior of the entire race in the new SyFy original series, “Z Nation.” Allan’s character Murphy is a a criminal, but as Allan reveals in the interview, Murphy is now the most important person on the planet because of what’s in his blood. ShockYa was happy to speak with Allan about his role, what he loves about the zombie mythos and what zombie lovers can expect from “Z Nation.” “Z Nation” premieres on SyFy at 10/9c.
ShockYa: What can you tell me about your character Murphy?
Keith Allan: Well, Murphy starts off…[as an] inmate in the prison system and at the top of the show, we are already a couple of years into the zombie apocalypse and they are experimenting on vaccines with prisoners. Not voluntarily [laughs]. I’m sort of a lab rat, basically. What happens in the opening is just when they’re injecting me with this experimental vaccine, the lab is overrun with zombies and while I am strapped down to the table, I am strapped down and bitten by, oh, a dozen zombies. But I don’t turn into a zombie. So I am the first person to be bitten by a zombie and not change, so basically, I carry the cure in my bloodstream but since the lab was overrun and decimated by the zombies, my blood is the only carrier of the cure to save the human race. So, the premise of the show is to get me to a lab in California where they can extract my blood and replicate the cure and save humanity.
ShockYa: What can folks expect from “Z Nation”?
Keith Allan: This is what I like about the show. One, is that we have a mission, we have a goal. We are headed towards something. It’s not just about survival although that is a daily factor in the apocalypse because not only do you have to survive zombies, but you also have to survive desperate humans…Everything is scarce including food and clean water and energy and gasoline, so…the daily survival, not only of not getting attacked and bitten by the zombies but also of the humans who are desperate to take what you have. So there’s that.
But I think [in] “Z Nation,” we have a mission, but there’s also plenty of gore and guts and blood and sores and all that gross stuff that I personally want in a monster/zombie show. I think that’s what the fans are looking for, some of that sick stuff which I love. But we also have a nice balance of drama and a sense of humor about it. I think there’s some funny stuff; it’s not kooky funny, but [the show] has a nice balance of dramatic and comedic writing. And also in the characters; I think the more we get into it, we flesh out who these people are and their humanity and what they’ve lost in the apocalypse.
ShockYa: Were you a fan of zombies before working on “Z Nation”?
Keith Allan: You know, it’s funny–I’ve certainly seen my share of zombie shows. I wasn’t this kind of guy who was like, ‘Oh, the latest zombie show, we’ve got to see it!’ but I enjoy them because I love sci-fi and I love monsters. I am a geek at heart. But you know what’s interesting? I’ve actually worked with The Asylum, whose the co-producer with SyFy on the show…I have worked with them as a writer and an actor and I’ve written previously two original SyFy zombie scripts, which will actually air tonight, interestingly enough[.] The two zombie movies I’ve written will air earlier today before “Z Nation” airs. Having written a couple of zombie movies…with my writing partner Delondra Williams, who is amazing, I had to really invest in the zombie world and what it is and what it means and what those rules are. Over the past couple of years I’ve gotten more interested in zombies and zombie movies because now I’m not only a writer of zombie movies, but I’m also an actor.
ShockYa: Do you have a favorite zombie movie?
Keith Allan: I loved “Shawn of the Dead.” I thought that was genius. I love the balance that was struck with the humor and intensity…That’s probably my favorite zombie movie.
ShockYa: I also loved the film. I thought it was a good primer for someone like me who wasn’t originally into zombie movies but wanted to find a way into the lore.
Keith Allan: Yeah, and what I also love about that movie is the way they set up how people in their lives that he would walk past everyday…these people looked like zombies already before the apocalypse broke out because they’re already…zoned out in their own lives and I love that metaphor that they made about people checking out in their lives and how we can, in our living day, just zombie out.
ShockYa: There’s tons of zombie stuff out there right now; what do you think “Z Nation” offers that the other stuff doesn’t?
Keith Allan: Without giving too much of the plot away, what happens with my character is something really interesting that I haven’t seen in any other zombie movie. Because I am a human and I have this virus in me, I’m also carrying zombie DNA because I was bitten and infected by them. I start to become a different kind of person. I’m not completely human anymore. So as the show progresses, we start to see changes in my character and I think that’s something we haven’t seen before–somebody who’s not one or the other…and I think that’s interesting to me.
ShockYa: I saw in the trailer that there’s a baby zombie. I haven’t seen that kind of zombie before, so what did you make of a baby zombie?
Keith Allan: Well, I loved it, of course. [laughs]. I sort of love breaking taboos. Some people might not like it that we have to kill a baby, but it’s a zombie baby [laughs]…In one of my movies I had written for SyFy, “Rise of the Zombies,” we had done something similar–we had a baby turn into a zombie in ours, so I was already there…I think it’s great. I love breaking down the traditional taboos…and we’ve done this in several episodes [in which] even the nice and the sweet and the good people turn into monsters. Even the innocents, like the babies[.]
In our show, all mammals are already infected with the virus. I’m not sure what the premise is for other zombie shows exactly, but our premise is that the virus is already inside all of us. We already have it. We are already carrying this. When you die, you automatically become a zombie. You don’t have to become a zombie because it’s already in us. We’re not really clear on how the virus is spread or where it came from at this point, but we do know that once you’re dead, you go zombie no matter who you are or the type of person you are, including babies.
ShockYa: What people love about zombies alluring about zombie mythos, resurgence, come back in such a big way.
Keith Allan: I think there’s a couple of things. I think what makes it interesting is that it does ban people together. It makes us have a common goal, you know? Survive the apocalypse. Survive the zombies. I think it’s something that immediately throws people into an immediate situation of survival. And I think maybe people are looking for a uniting theme in it. Not to get too out there, but beuase of everything going on in the world right now, which seems crazy and out of control, really, if you watch the news–it’s insane what’s going on the world–there’s certainly the escapism of a fantasy monster world but there’s also the idea of how we have to unite and ban together to survive it and we have to find the strengths and goodness within each other and rely on other people for survival.