Charlotte actor Tim Parati has been “killed” enough times on screen – in Kiefer Sutherland’s “Truth or Consequences, N.M.” and the 2002 horror movie “Cabin Fever,” to name a couple – that he has a hard time recalling each instance when put on the spot.
But he’ll likely never forget getting offed on AMC’s hit zombie series “The Walking Dead.”
“This is certainly the most fantastic, the most epic way that I’ve been killed,” said Parati, 55, whose Dr. Emmett Carson met a horrific fate at the hands of Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s murderous tyrant Negan toward the end of Sunday night’s episode.
To sum it up: Parati’s character worked as the key medical professional for “The Saviors” under Negan. He appeared in one episode earlier in Season 7 in which he tended to Daryl (Norman Reedus) after he was captured by The Saviors; in another episode, he treated a character whose face had been burned with a hot iron by Negan.
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On Sunday night, though, it was Parati’s turn to have an iron held to his face. After being set up by Dwight (Austin Amelio) to take the blame for Daryl’s escape, Negan first whacks Dr. Carson with his iconic barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat, a.k.a. Lucille, then threatens him with the iron. Cracking under the pressure, Carson falsely confesses and apologizes, but Negan winds up throwing the doctor head-first into the furnace.
The full episode, “Hostiles and Calamities,” can be viewed on AMC’s website. Here’s a short clip of the death scene, which – I should warn our readers – contains content that could be objectionable to some.
We got a chance to talk “Walking Dead” with Parati – who moonlights as an actor and has appeared in dozens of films and TV projects, including “A Time to Kill” and Lifetime’s “Army Wives” – by phone Tuesday morning, as he was driving to Davidson College to do some painting for the school’s forthcoming production of “Cabaret.” (His main job is as a scenic artist for Children’s Theatre of Charlotte; he’s also designing the set for his wife Kim’s directorial effort on “A Raisin in the Sun,” coming soon to Theatre Charlotte.)
Q. How did you land this role?
It was kind of my Holy Grail of roles or shows to get on. I had read for “The Walking Dead” about nine or 10 times, and some of them were just for one line – which, I’m kind of glad now that I didn’t get, so I could have the potential for bigger stuff. With this one, I read for it, put it on tape and by that Friday I was on the set. (Parati’s work for the first episode he appeared in was done last May; he shot his scenes for Sunday night’s episode in September. Everything was filmed at the series’ studio in Senoia, Ga.)
Q. So, Holy Grail-level: Then you must have been a fan of the comic book, too.
Nope. I’m actually not a big horror-movie fan, and had never really been a big zombie fan. But there was something about “Walking Dead” that, when I first started watching it, it just – I don’t know, it just really got under my skin. I loved it. It’s one of the few shows that we watch in real time, mainly to avoid spoilers. We don’t want to find out what happened on Twitter. But yeah, for some reason, I really got into the writing and the situations and the characters. For it being a horror-zombie show, the character development is pretty deep. I know a lot of (horror fans) don’t like it because they want more carnage, but I appreciate the fact that they take the time for the character development. And then they kill them. You get to know them before they’re slaughtered.
Q. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to know your character very well.
Yeah, I didn’t get any backstory, but he was essential to Dwight’s story.
Q. What was Jeffrey Dean Morgan like?
He’s funny. He’s very laid-back. I mean, Negan has kind of a laid-back personality until he zooms in (and gets) extremely intense. So Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s like the laid-back version of Negan – without the deathly stare and the intensity. He was very cool.
Q. Did you get to hold Lucille?
I did not. There were several Lucilles, actually. The one he hit me with, of course, is a foam bat with probably aluminum in it. It actually bent a little bit when he hit me in the arm, and he hit me like 12 times. Anyway, I wanted to hold Lucille, but I did not get to. They keep that close to the props people.
Q. Well, still, to be able to say you were one of her victims...
Absolutely, I know. Not everybody on “Walking Dead” gets to get (hit) by Lucille, or gets to meet Lucille. I had always thought that it would be cool to get eaten or bitten, but this was a better way to go.
Q. By the way, was that you or a stuntman Jeffery Dean Morgan grabbed and flung into the furnace?
The shot that wound up in the episode was with the stunt guy ... I did it a few times ... but the stuntman, he actually like flew into it, so I guess that’s why they went with that one.
Q. In your opinion, was there any way out of that situation for Dr. Carson?
I don’t think so. I think he was completely blindsided by Dwight. He had adopted an attitude of survival – he had a great position, because they needed him as a doctor, so he probably had his own little apartment and could sit there and listen to his classical music and have a decent meal. Much like Eugene settled into it when he got there, because it was comfort. It was survival. I know that (Dr. Carson) certainly didn’t agree with everything that Negan did, and I think that came through in earlier episodes. But in this world, you gotta survive, so he was doing the best he could. ... But then again, Dwight’s trying to survive, too. If Dwight hadn’t thrown me under the bus – or, in the fire – then he would have been dead. Really, in that world, the strong survive. You can’t be a big-hearted person.
More Tim Parati
In 2014, the Observer published a profile on Parati focusing on his obsession with “Planet of the Apes” collectibles. Click HERE to read it.