Frank Dillane Fear the Walking dead

TVLine's Performer of the Week: Frank Dillane

THE PERFORMER | Frank Dillane

THE SHOW Fear the Walking Dead

THE EPISODE |Pilot” (Aug. 23)

THE PERFORMANCE | We’d only watched the first few minutes of The Walking Dead spinoff — the artful opening vignette in which Frank Dillane took junkie Nick Clark from drug-addled confusion to abject terror — before we knew: A star had been born.

The English actor was so in the moment, so vulnerable and palpably afraid, that we couldn’t help but be drawn in. It was as if, like his character, we were seeing a zombie for the very first time. (And, considering how many walkers we’ve seen by now, that’s no mean feat!)

Better yet, Dillane spent the rest of the premiere proving that our initial assessment of him was 100 percent on the money. (We do love being right.) Not only did the 24-year-old Harry Potter grad capture the pathos of addiction, he also let us glimpse the self-aware imp that Nick would be if he could just get — and stay — clean.

Dillane’s most impressive accomplishment, in our estimation, was making us believe that there was something that scared Nick even more than his flesh-eating girlfriend — the prospect of being crazy. However, any way you slice it, the guy killed and, in the process, brought Fear the Walking Dead to life.

unnamedHONORABLE MENTION | A famous alien once told us, “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one” — and it was with that thinking that Defiance’s Doc Yewll made her own sacrifice, in a series of scenes that allowed Trenna Keating to reveal new layers beneath the prosthetics. “For me, this was always a one-way trip,” the Indogene admitted to Irisa and Datak of her idea to “plug into” the Omec ship’s mainframe. As she argued, “An artificial person is a tolerable loss.” Yet no matter how dismissive Yewll was of her worth, Keating used her eyes and voice to reveal a fear and sadness beneath all that latex — especially when the doc bid adieu to her longtime frenemy, Datak, with a soft and not-at-all snarky, “I’m gonna miss you, pal.”

POTWHONORABLE MENTION | Usually in pro wrestling, when a celebrity joins in on the tag team action, he gets in a few token licks. But Stephen Amell, who as TV’s Arrow has chiseled his body into one that rivals many a WWE superstar, wasn’t about to just be a pretty face. Rather, partnered with Neville against heels Stardust and King Barrett, Amell literally threw himself into his second gig, giving as good as he got — and make no mistake, he got plenty at the hand (or boot) of Stardust. Cementing his commitment to the clash, Amell sprang himself from the top turnbuckle, soared through the air like, well, an arrow, to hit his targets outside the ring. Rest assured, Stephen, you did not fail your WWE audience.

Which performances knocked your socks off this week? Hit the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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44 Comments
  1. Angie Marie says:

    Hmmm, I thought Frank Dillane was over the top and not very good in the role. A star being born? Hardly.

  2. kgreen4791 says:

    Reblogged this on .

  3. mArS says:

    Tim Robbins – The Brink. His best role in years and very underrated comedy.

    • LAwoman says:

      Yes! Tim Robbins was better than ever in The Brink. I love that show, mostly because of Robbins’ performance. I did like Dillane too though.

  4. dan says:

    I remember that Susan Lucci was named for this honor in an earlier season of Devious Maids. Although she may not have been exercising her full range of dramatic chops, her delivery of several one-line zingers in the Devious Maids season three finale was spot-on. She gave the episode some much needed levity and her facial expression in the final hospital scene proved she isn’t a one-note actress. She may not have warranted a mention in this week’s “Performer of the Week” but she definitely deserves kudos for a job well done!

  5. Well, he was the best thing about that diet plot of a pilot, so it’s hard to argue, especially with a sort of slow summer in terms of drama. I would single out Dash Mihok and anyone from Hannibal if it was me, though.

  6. CAN says:

    I just hope he finds a way to get that leg healed because if he keeps walking like a zombie, he’s going to get shot pretty fast!

  7. Hege says:

    Raul Esperaza as Fredric Chilton in Hannibal. My God, he was just amazing!

    • Tim says:

      Yes, he was really good! Frank Dillane was really good too through, I remember thinking he was a good actor when he was in the hospital.

  8. Eliza says:

    I agree about Frank Dillane. I was pretty impressed with his work and I’d never seen him in anything prior to the pilot. Just found out that he’s Stannis Baratheon’s son ;) Talent is in his blood.

  9. JW says:

    Patrick Adams, in Suits, was really good this week too. From the anger displayed in the church to the breakdown upon the realization that the church still had his parent’s old books, it was a solid performance all around.

  10. Sarah_ says:

    Really like Frank performance, I never had seen him on television so I was surprise how good he was.
    It was only the first episode but I’m already in love with the character and the story.

  11. In my opinion, Frank Dillane was one of the worst parts of a FTWD’s mediocre pilot. One more he looked bored and the next he was overacting. Keating, on the other hand, has always been good as Doc and should have been the performer of the week.

  12. SnazzyO says:

    Steven Amell on WWE was epic.

  13. Christine says:

    Stephen Amell killed it at WWE! He is a real life superhero!

  14. Shaun says:

    Yewll is such an odd character,enjoy her very much though.Cool season finale.

  15. wrstlgirl says:

    Completely agree about Dillane. He was stellar throughout the entire episode. Can’t wait to see what comes next!!

  16. gr8writer says:

    So you think a 24 year old Frank Dillane giving a great performance is the Performance of the Week? How about an equally good (or better) performance given by an actress less than half Dillane’s age? I’m talking about Kylie Rogers’ portrayal of Minx in this week’s episode of “The Whispers”.

    Sure, the show itself is a ratings dud, but those who stuck with it were rewarded richly this week. The performance Rogers gave far belies what you would expect of an 11-year-old child actor.

    As a girl who is believed to be inhabited by a malevolent alien being, and hunted by the entire Federal Government, Rogers gave an Emmy-worthy performance whose emotional range spanned contempt, anger, fear, terror, stoicism, betrayal and love all in one episode. That kind of range would be a tall order for many adults, let alone an 11-year-old!

    One look at her Twitter feed (@kylieannerogers) would reveal that I’m not the only one who marveled at this epic performance.

  17. Et al. says:

    I agree with this choice 100%. He was phenomenal.

  18. youcanspamthis@gmail.com says:

    Kylie Rogers on “The Whispers” was the standout for me; one of the best performances from a child actor/actress in years. Brilliant the whole hour.

  19. Carrie says:

    I agree. Unfortunately, he was the only thing I liked about the pilot. He had to show such a wide range of emotions and reactions throughout the episode and he was very charismatic. This guy is gonna be a big star. Very talented.

  20. Jesse says:

    I dont get this at all (dillane). I did not believe him for a minute. It really looked like he was not trained enough. I could see what was coming next. I knew he’d be afraid when he was afraid, I knew he’d flee when he fled. I knew there’d be a gun when there was a gun. There was no spontaneity in his acting and I very much disagree that he was in the moment. but I mean, good for him, he is the lead on a highly rated tv show. about zombies.

  21. Patsy says:

    I have watched those first three minutes six times and that kid who killed it, doesn’t lose anything in terms of intensity and pitch perfect abject terror, viewing after viewing. He knocked my socks off for the entire episode and that’s not easy, I am a 30 year movie critic veteran who is not easily thrilled. I thought the entire ensemble did extremely well, I knew Kim would bring her A game, but as you said, and as Greg the producer called him, the prophet of the apocalypse in LA, Frank Dillane made you feel you didn’t want to miss one minute of any upcoming episodes. No small task, it is very hard to follow a hit show with a spin off, people are happily biased by their previous commitment, they casted the perfect guy for a perfectly written part and then proceeded to shoot one of the most exciting right out of the gate first three minutes of any premiere I’ve taken the time to watch.

    • gr8writer says:

      You’ve been a movie critic for 30 years, and you still don’t know that there’s no such word as “casted”? The past tense of “cast” is still “cast”. I guess it’s a good thing you weren’t an English teacher for 30 years.

    • DatDude says:

      actually, that actor annoyed me…to the point where I don’t know if I want to watch any other episodes.
      He was awful.

  22. Isobel says:

    I’d probably have done Minx or Frederick Chilton over Amell but I’m not a WWE fan

  23. Anon says:

    Did I see a different pilot than you guys?
    He was possibly the worst part of the episode, and made it a chore to watch.

  24. Greg says:

    He looks like Johnny Depp in Benny and Joon… I know, burn, right!?

  25. Kenny says:

    Frank Dillane… It felt like he had studied Johnny Depp’s depiction of Hunster S Thompson in ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas’ for his inspiration

  26. Kris says:

    I thought Frank Dillane was amazing in Fear The Walking Dead. His performance is what really drew me into the show. I love the Walking Dead, but was iffy about FTWD. He made me want to keep watching. The rest of the cast was good, but I thought he was a standout.

  27. Whatchusay? says:

    I thought the junkie was the best thing about the pilot episode of FTWD. I wasn’t so thrilled with that episode but will watch again solely because of his performance.

  28. Tracy says:

    I thought he was amazing. I kept thinking “Who is this guy?” I agree with you 100%.

  29. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Oh, god, seriously? I guess I have a problem taking that character seriously because of the completely ridiculous tiny shirt he was wearing in the beginning. I could not stop laughing at the thing flapping in the wind as he ran. I’m already wishing death upon half the people on this show.

  30. Irishgirl3 says:

    I agree about Frank Dillane, including his character going through withdrawal while questioning his own sanity.