The Walking Dead viewers watched on in shock as timid and loyal Eugene betrayed the Alexandrians by becoming Negan. Unsurprisingly, actor Josh McDermitt admits it was "uncomfortable" filming the intense season seven episode, which saw his character steal the spotlight from fan-favourites like Rick and Daryl.
In Hostiles And Calamities, Eugene adjusted to his new life as a hostage of the Saviours while receiving unexpected VIP treatment courtesy of the murderous villain. By the end of the episode, Eugene declared himself "Negan" although some are sceptical about the true intentions behind his loyalty to the tyrant. McDermitt earned critical-acclaim for his performance in the gripping episode but the actor reveals it was not the easiest filming experience.
Speaking to IBTimes UK in London on 3 March, McDermitt said: "It was certainly a challenge because it was the most I've ever done on this show being the sole focus of the A-story. I've usually had [characters] Rosita and Abraham sharing that load with me.
"It was also difficult because at this point in the season, a lot of the crew start looking for other jobs as they need to keep putting food on the table for their family. So I show up for work and I don't know half the crew that's there. It felt really uncomfortable on top of this pressure of carrying the episode."
It was certainly a major moment for McDermitt's character who had previously never commanded a standalone episode since joining the AMC zombie series during season four in 2014. Explaining how he overcame the pressure of the demanding episode, McDermitt said: "What I ended up doing is leaning on Austin [Amelio who plays Dwight], Jeffrey [Dean Morgan who plays Negean] and the producers. This show is certainly a collaboration.
"People always ask, 'What makes this a great show?' and I think a big component of it is there are no – sure, Andy [Andrew Lincoln], Norman [Reedus] and Melissa [McBride] are the stars of the show – but ask any of them, they'd say this is an ensemble and a collaboration. We're all working together to tell these stories as opposed to having tiers of people. I felt the episode turned out great, I was really pleased with it."
Season seven has taken viewers – least the characters – on a rollercoaster thanks to Negan's reign of terror which has resulted in the demise of Abraham, Glenn and several other characters. Revealing what it was like for him on-set, McDermitt said: "Each season brings its own challenges for sure because this season was so dark and a little bit depressing in the first half.
"When I'm done filming, I usually drive home in silence because I just don't want to listen to any music and I've found that I end up being so in the Eugene character that listening to music sounds different to me on the way home. It's weird, this show weighs on you."
The Walking Dead season 7 continues on Monday 6 March at 9pm on Fox in the UK.