Z Nation interview: Russell Hodgkinson talks Doc, filming, and season 4

Russell Hodgkinson Z NationWhile the Z Nation season 4 premiere may not be coming our way until later this year, that’s no reason to stop having fun conversations about what’s coming up. There is a lot to look forward to with the Syfy zombie series — regardless of whatever happens with that crazy cliffhanger — and we had the opportunity to speak with none other than Doc himself in Russell Hodgkinson.

During our exclusive interview with the Z Nation star, we touched on the fan reaction to his character, some of his favorite moments and his hopes of continuing to film the show in Washington, which has been its home for the past three seasons. Without further ado, check out our interview with Russell below.

CarterMatt: What has the reaction to Doc been like from fans over the years?

Russell Hodgkinson – The fans have been really great. I get a lot of people who say I remind them of their uncle or dad.  Everyone seems to have a Doc in their life. I guess my character is pretty relatable, but most conversations are like ‘OMG I love Z Nation, 10K is so cute, is he gonna live?’ followed by, ‘Oh yeah, and my grandmother loves you!’ (Laughs)  but look, I’m just glad 10K is the heart-throb, it takes the pressure off me. (laugh).  Now, that’s not to say that I don’t have admirers.  One young girl online admitted to having a ‘Geezer Crush’ on Doc. Talk about ‘harshing my mellow,’ but you know, whatever. Also, since I’ve grown this beard I seem to have attracted some ‘Bears’…that’s right, big hairy men.  So, there’s that.

How far in advance do you get the scripts for episodes, or do you find out about big episodes right before they film?

We usually have a rough idea where the season is going. We’ll get scripts a few days ahead of time and they continue to get revised as we get closer to filming. The cast tries to get together the night before shooting with the writer, director and producers for a read through.

It’s a good time for last minute tweaks … we also get to meet the guest stars if they are in town, and there’s always food, so that’s a plus.

We know you can’t tell us if Doc survives the season 3 finale, but if he does, what are some hopes for his character moving forward?

I’m definitely interested in reconnecting with Murphy, I think we need to rekindle our bromance.  Murphy’s snarky pessimism is always a nice contrast with Doc’s laid back attitude. Of course I also just like hanging out with Keith. He’s my buddy and we barely saw each other last season. I also want to continue to keep a watchful eye out for 10K. Doc’s never been very good with a gun, it’s nice knowing that we have each others back.

What is your reaction when you get season finale scripts and see big cliffhangers like we did in season 3? Does it make you nervous as an actor or excited?

You know, as an actor it doesn’t make me nervous. I believe my life and career is unfolding in a way that is ultimately for my benefit, so I don’t sweat it. Anyway, I think life is one big cliffhanger. Dealing with the unknown is something we all have to do everyday.

Do you want to see Doc get a love interest?

I don’t think it would be a good idea. Doc has a history of being unlucky in love, with several failed marriages to prove it.  I also think he’s probably still recovering from his ‘romp’ with those three crazy b–ches … I mean ladies, from the ‘Doc’s Angels’ episode. Of course Doc does get ‘smitten’ from time to time, I know he had a little crush on Kuruk, the medicine woman and Maggie the mayor, but real love just doesn’t have time to blossom during the apocalypse…everyone is in survival mode … but you know, smit happens.

We saw a little bit of Doc’s backstory over the seasons, so is that something you would like to see more of and what would you like to see?

I would be interested in learning more about his years as a drug addict and how it affected his relationships, particularly with the son he abandoned. Maybe a flashback of him sharing his story in a twelve-step group. I’d also be happy to save his backstory for a spin-off! That’s right Doc needs one. Anyone out there listening?

Is there a situation you would like to see Doc in that he hasn’t faced before when it comes to the zombies?

You know I’ve pitched the idea of having an encounter with a crazy cat lady, you know every neighborhood has one, but I realize logistically that cats could be a nightmare to deal with, so maybe instead we could stumble upon a theatre production of CATS, the musical. The actors all turned zombie during a dress rehearsal. We could get our amazing stunt people to display some fierce leaping and acrobatic type cat moves, similar to the ‘Blaster zombies’. That could be an awesome episode. I need to pitch that idea to the writers.

Over the whole series, what scene did you find to be the most challenging to film?

In season two, the ‘White Light’ episode, Doc had a huge fight scene that damn near killed him. Andrew and I (he played Wes) gave it all we had. Then of course we had to do it over and over so they could film it from every angle. By the time it was over, we were both dragging our ass. But it turned out to be a great episode… still one of my all time favorites.

We recently heard from Z Nation producer David Latt about some of the struggles the team is facing when it comes to filming in Washington: What do you love the most about filming there?

Well, it happens to be the state that I live in, so that’s convenient, I love that. I think the pacific northwest is the most beautiful part of the country and the quality of life is amazing. Also, Washington has a tremendous film community, full of wonderful actors, crew members and great locations. It’s unfortunate that our show, like many others, has to rely so heavily on the tax initiatives. We’ve managed to create a hit show on the Syfy network with a minuscule budget. If we can’t get the Washington legislature to increase funding for The Motion Picture Competitiveness Program, we may have to start a Go Fund Me Account.

Besides Z Nation, do you have any other projects you are working on right now that you can tell us about?

Funny you should ask, I’m in LA now getting ready to do a cameo role in Sharknado 5. Apparently my character has a crush on Matt Shepard’s grandmother from Sharknado 4, I know right? but this grandmother happens to be played by Cheryl Tiegs, former super model and America’s #1 hot Granny. So there you go.

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We want to give a very special thanks to Russell for talking with us about his experience on Z Nation. If you missed it, we recently also spoke with executive producer David Michael Latt about the planning process for the upcoming fourth season. You can check that out now over at the link here. (Photo: Daniel Schaefer.)

Excited to see what Z Nation has in store for Doc next? Be sure to share in the comments below!

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