Fear The Walking Dead's Keith Carradine On Surprise Role And His History With Cult Leader Teddy

keith carradine's john dorie sr. shooting a rifle on fear the walking dead season 6
(Image credit: amc press)

Major spoilers below for Fear the Walking Dead's latest episode, "J.D.," so be warned if you haven't yet watched!

After delivering one of the biggest and most depressing shocks of its run in the form of John Dorie's death - to say nothing of everything involving Karen David's Grace - Fear the Walking Dead thankfully isn't done with Garret Dillahunt's character, or at least his family history. Deadwood and Madam Secretary vet Keith Carradine joined the post-apocalyptic drama in Episode 613 as John Dorie Sr., the former lawman who totally left his family behind due to a rampant obsession with catching John Glover's cult leader Teddy that started four decades prior to the show's current events.

Keith Carradine spoke with CinemaBlend ahead of "J.D." debuting on AMC, sharing how much he appreciates his new role, even if it wasn't exactly easy to take on a role that tied so deeply into Garret Dillahunt's John Jr. The actor also talked a bit about his character's decades-long history with Fear the Walking Dead's mysterious cult leader. So let's dive in without further ado.

keith carradine's john dorie sr. arriving at cabin on fear the walking dead season 6

(Image credit: amc press)

On Playing The Father Of Garret Dillahunt's John Dorie Jr.

If you're going to bring someone with the acting pedigree that Keith Carradine has, the role needs to match up accordingly, and I think it was a perfect alignment of the stars for him to land on Fear the Walking Dead as John Dorie's absentee father. The actor is capable of being rude and dismissive while still maintaining a warmth and relatability that makes it easy to side with him even in situations where he's at odds with Jenna Elfman's June. (After all, she DID break into his RV and went through his shit.) So it was a pleasure to hear that Carradine was so pumped, though apprehensive, over landing the role and bringing John Dorie Sr.'s complicated story to life. In his words:

Well, I can say that I found it a bit daunting, you know? Garret's performance and the characterizations that he gave us are beloved, and I felt an acute sense of responsibility to live up to the precedent that he set. I knew from reading and from watching how sorely his presence was going to be missed, and I feel that I had my work cut out for me to try and, in some regards, fill not necessarily his shoes, but fill the shoes that would, to some extent, mitigate to the audience his sense of loss, and his not being there anymore. So I mean it was a wonderful role to be given, to play his father, and all of the resonance that carries with it. I know Garret, and I've worked with him a couple of times, and there are no better actors. I mean, he's just the best of the best. It was a bit daunting to take on, but I felt buoyed by the support of the cast around me, particularly Jenna, with whom I had the largest body of work, particularly in this first episode. . . . Oftentimes as actors, we are faced with writing that is maybe lacking in this some areas, and we feel as though we have to try and make it work somehow. That's not the case with this show. This stuff just plays itself. If you show up and you're prepared, and you manage to find your way to being truthful, then it just works a trick, man, and I felt all of those things.

It's obviously a damned shame that viewers didn't get to watch Keith Carradine actually sharing the screen with Garret Dillahunt, which would have been narratively impossible, considering John Jr. was so young when his father bailed on the family. But in a way, that just makes his storyline all the more impactful, knowing that John Sr.'s obsessions (and Dakota's shitty impulses) destroyed our chances of seeing the two characters together as adults. Speaking of obsessions...

john glover's teddy talking to alicia on fear the walking dead season 6

(Image credit: amc press)

Oh John Dorie Sr.'s Connections With Cult Leader Teddy

Truth be told, had Keith Carradine's character only entered the story as a catalyst for June to reach some sort of closure over John Jr.'s death, I would have been completely good with it. So it was a huge bonus for Fear the Walking Dead's showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss to take the additional step of connecting John Sr. to Teddy and his "End is the Beginning" doomsday cult. It obviously sucks that Teddy played a part in splintering the Dorie family, but it makes Carradine's franchise future all the more appealing. According to the actor, fans should be excited to learn exactly why his character was so transfixed by Teddy.

Yeah, he has a long history with Teddy, and Teddy is an integral aspect of what John Sr.'s life has been for 40 years now. And I love the way that they have tied all of that together, and that one of the great tragedies of John Sr.'s life is the sundering of his relationship with his son, and Teddy's pivotal role in why that took place. I think that the audience will get a lot out of where this story now is going to be going in terms of John Sr.'s lifelong pursuit of this maniac serial killer and his life of grief over having spent 40 years without his son and without his family. . . . To an outsider looking in, they would say that was harsh; he didn't have to do that. But when you understand Dorie Sr.'s impetus behind that, that he really felt as though his continuing presence in their life was going to cause them more harm than his absence from their life.

While I have no idea where things are going, it sounds to me like Teddy was viewed as being extremely dangerous, and that he probably made some direct threats against John Sr.'s wife and son, causing him to sever all ties with them. (Although that theory might not hold water, since Teddy could have still harmed the others without John Sr. being around.) In any case, Keith Carradine talked about how interesting it is to him that while Teddy was the initial cause for John Sr. to become a loner, it's also Teddy that leads to John Jr. reconnecting with others to potentially take the killer down once and for all. In the actor's words:

He's very Charles Manson-like, in terms of his hypnotic power over his cult. But that's the nature of cults in general, isn't it? I mean, these personalities have undue influence over people who might have a particular weakness to be influenced in that way. I think John Dorie Sr.'s weakness, if he has one in particular, would be his passion to solve a crime and to prevent the criminal from going on. It's an obsessive ask, and I think that obsession is what has been so damaging to him. But it's interesting now that at this point in his life, he might actually have connected with somebody, and with a group of people - as we learn by the end of this episode -who can help him actually complete this task.

With John Dorie Sr. now serving as more connective tissue between the protagonists and Teddy's cult, as well as the impetus for June being welcomed back into Morgan's camp, I can't wait to see where things go in the final three episodes of Season 6. Hopefully Alycia Debnam-Carey's Alicia hasn't been fully swayed by Teddy's teachings, and doesn't end up being responsible for John Sr.'s death in any way. (This show does have a way of asking viewers not to hate certain characters after they murder other well-liked characters.)

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC at 9:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to keep watching to see what happens next with John Sr. and Teddy. In the meantime, stay tuned for more exclusive Fear coverage ahead of the 2021 Summer TV season.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.