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Mary’s 2012 TV Goodness All-Stars: The Walking Dead’s Jeffrey Demunn 


Photo Credit:AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

Prior to The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Demunn was probably most known for his role of Dan Miller in Frank Darabont’s The Mist and that ever-so-famous scene of him running into the hardware store exclaiming, “There’s something in the mist!”. However, I personally was first introduced to this extraordinary actor in the 1995 movie Citizen X. Most of the time, Demunn plays the good guy, but in this movie, he played the role of one of the world’s most notorious serial killers, Andrei Chikatilo from the Soviet Union. Donald Sutherland also starred in the movie, and while Sutherland may have received most of the acclaim, in my opinion, Demunn stole the show and his performance was fantastic. I met and chatted with the actor this past August, and when I mentioned Citizen X, he actually stood up and gave me a hug because he could not believe someone remembered him for that role.

Since then, Demunn has gone on to other roles, many of which have been in Frank Darabont’s movies, such as The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. Often dubbed “Frank Darabont’s favorite actor” it was no real surprise to see him cast in The Walking Dead . Demunn played Dale Horvath, a widower who recently lost his wife to cancer and who had joined a small group of survivors including Shane Walsh (Jon Bernthal) and then, ultimately Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his family. What set his character apart and why I believe he deserves the title of an All-Star of 2012 is that Dale is really the only character on the show that truly retained his humanity even in the midst of this horrible apocalypse. Everyone else just really cared about themselves or their immediate families, but Dale honestly cared about people, and if I could have picked anyone to be on my team in a zombie apocalypse, it would have been Dale. I’d rather have someone on my team who honestly cared about my well-being than some big, strong guy like Shane with moral issues.

Dale was killed by a swamp walker that Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) inadvertently lured to the camp in the episode “Judge, Jury, and Executioner”. Of all the scenes in The Walking Dead, that was probably the most horrific, and Dale’s death really had an emotional impact on me.

Photo Credit:AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

However, even though Dale is gone, his memories live on, and here are some of my favorites.

In the season 1 finale, Andrea (Laurie Holden) wants to stay in the CDC and commit suicide. She had just lost her sister and just learned that a good deal of the world’s population had been wiped out. Perhaps with a little bit of manipulation, Dale talked Andrea out of it and saved her life. Ironically, for someone who wanted to kill herself so badly, Andrea is really loving life and living high on the hog now in Woodbury in season 3.


Photo Credit:AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

Dale goes on to save Andrea’s life again in the beginning of season 2. The group is attacked by a herd on the highway, and Andrea is trapped inside the RV with a walker with no means of defense. Dale reaches in and hands Andrea a screwdriver, which she then uses to kill the walker. Andrea, you can thank Dale a second time for the high life you are leading in Woodbury now.


Photo Credit:AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

But, some of Dale’s best scenes come later in season 2. As I mentioned, Dale was one of the few characters who retained his identity and humanity, in contrast to characters like Shane, who had once been a good man but who had morphed into a borderline psychopath. Dale figured out that Shane likely killed Otis to save himself and that he was becoming a serious danger to the group. And, even though Dale wasn’t the strongest member of the group, he wasn’t afraid to stand up to Shane for it.

Dale: But I was the time you raised your gun on Rick. You had him in your sights… and you held him there. I know what kind of man you are.
Shane: You think I’d shoot Rick? That is my best friend. That’s the man that I love, I love him like he’s my brother. You think that’s the kind of man I am?
Dale: That’s right.
Shane: [menacingly] Well maybe we oughta just think that through. See, if I’m the kind of man that would gun down his own best friend, what’d you think I do to some guy I don’t even like when he starts throwing accusations my way. What’d you think?

Photo Credit:AMC
Photo Credit: AMC

However, what I remember Dale the most for is how hard he fought for the group to not execute the outsider, Randall. Randall had been tortured, and everyone in the group was set on killing him, for fear that he’ll lead others to the farm. Yes, the “new world” is all about survival, but that doesn’t give us the right to just go around killing people, just because the government has been overrun. It’s not being human, and in fact, it’s barbaric.

Even with Dale’s death on The Walking Dead, that was not it for acting for Jeffrey Demunn in 2012. Demunn went on to guest-star as a construction worker in NBC’s new drama Chicago Fire in the episode “Mon Amour”. Demunn’s character is trapped after a construction accident, he knows he is dying, and the performance he gave at the end of the episode in the final message to his wife before he died was Emmy-worthy. This actor was extraordinary in The Walking Dead, and it’s no surprise that he was extraordinary in Chicago Fire as well.

Photo Credit:NBC
Photo Credit: NBC

Even with our being in the middle of season 3 of The Walking Dead, I still am saddened to not see Dale’s RV and Jeffrey Demunn’s name in the opening credits of the show. But, there is an upside to all of this. Frank Darabont was let go from The Walking Dead after season 1, and he now has a new show LA Noir that has just been picked up for at least 6 episodes by TNT. Guess who has been cast in that show? Yes, “Frant Darabont’s boy” Jeffrey Demunn. So, while we may have lost Dale on The Walking Dead, we will get to see Demunn regularly in what I am sure is going to be another fantastic Frank Darabont project. Welcome back to the small screen, Jeffrey Demunn! We Dale Horvath fans look forward to seeing you in this new project.

 LA Noir is set to premiere sometime in the spring on TNT.

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