With the popularity of The Walking Dead and the second spinoff, Fear The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: World Beyond has still been able to set itself apart from those two shows. Today, we have the pleasure of speaking to one of the newer members of The Walking Dead: World Beyond cast.
Austrian-born and Polish Maximilian Osinski plays Dennis in the second season and brings a depth and complexity to the character that is a joy to watch. We sat down with him to talk about Dennis, what it’s been like being part of The Walking Dead universe and what he thinks of the fans of the series.
Pop Culture Principle – How does it feel knowing that you are now a part of the massive Walking Dead universe?
Maximilian Osinski – It was a no-brainer to do the job. Everyone watched the premiere of the original Walking Dead when it came out and it was such a phenomenon and such a hit. Even today, the fanbase is still so loyal. You can not be in this town without seeing or hearing something about the show, so to be asked to be a part of this universe and this second spinoff is amazing. I am so grateful that Julie Schubert brought me in, and I got my shot and somehow it worked out!
Pop Culture Principle – The Walking Dead universe is very secretive when it comes to leaks and their scripts. Did you get the script for each episode, or did they give you an idea of how your arc would play out this season?
Maximilian Osinski – They gave you an idea of how many episodes you could be in, but they didn’t confirm it. I didn’t get to read the script until after I got cast and they sent it to me before the table read which was over Zoom this season. So, all I had was the sides and even in the sides, they used dummy names. As you went along, the cast was getting scripts as needed, so you didn’t get the entire season up front. You don’t know if you are going to live or die as is the lore with the entire Walking Dead world. 😊
Maximilian Osinski – Matthew was really collaborative and open. From the callback producer’s session that I did and on, after I got the final offer, he reached out saying that he’d setup a Zoom call so we could talk about the world and the backstory of this show specifically and how my character fits into it and what he was doing before he appears on the show. Also, what relationships Dennis would have had with who in the show before we see him.
Throughout the entire season, he was available to answer questions, or I would just check in. Every two episodes we had a new director, so I would always check in to ask how are things looking or is there anything you want to lean into in the next scene. He was very responsive, and it was very helpful to have the showrunner there to make sure that as the actor, you are fulfilling the vision and the story that he wanted with this character. I always think of it as me being there to help tell his story and contribute to the season. I always want to make sure that I am keeping myself in check. He was very easy to communicate with and very helpful and I am very grateful to have had the chance to collaborate with him.
Pop Culture Principle – Because of COVID protocols and keeping everyone safe, when was the first time you actually met your cast face to face?
Maximilian Osinski – When I stepped on set for the first time. We find out that in the early episodes, I was married to Annette in the show. Matthew setup a Zoom call for us. We didn’t do a chemistry read before I got the part. I didn’t meet them until I was on set. You wish you could be at the table read live with everyone, but you adapt and make do with what you have. If anything, it made you dig into your work a little bit more and you could always call, text, or Zoom to discuss things. Every actor is different. Some actors don’t need it and some actors do. I find that I am pretty flexible and don’t necessarily need to rehearse with you before we get on set.
Pop Culture Principle – When you are working during the COVID protocols, is that in the back of your mind as you are working?
Maximilian Osinski – I think it’s more of me knowing they are being as safe as they could possibly be and the work just takes over your focus, especially when you start rolling. The way AMC set it up, they really did prioritize health and safety and you really felt safe on and off camera. They had a COVID person make sure that everyone was abiding by the protocols, and they tested you three times a week. So, by the time you get on set, I personally wasn’t worried and that allowed you to focus on the task at hand. It’s interesting, as we were filming the season, the vaccines were rolling out, so then people started getting vaccinated as well, so that also helped as the season was going forward.
Pop Culture Principle – How would you describe your character Dennis and how he fits into The Walking Dead: World Beyond universe?
Maximilian Osinski – He once was a resolute and disciplined soldier who is now trying to build back the pieces of his life. In the first four episodes that have aired, you kind of see a man with a lot of baggage and some demons trying to reconnect with his wife Jennifer.
As you continue to watch the show, more will be revealed, and stories and relationships will be filled out a little bit better. There are three layers to this character that I wanted to work on, and Matthew did a really good job of showing those three parts of the man in each episode with his relationship with Silas and Jennifer and where he is at and where we find out where he’s eventually come from. So, it was really interesting and a great dive into the character for me over the season.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the interesting relationships to us is the one between Dennis and Plaskett. Dennis seems to have a bit of a soft spot for Plaskett. Would you agree and can you talk about doing scenes with Hal Cumpston?
Maximilian Osinski – Hal was terrific! The first time we actually crossed paths was at a costume fitting for the show and he’s as tall as me! He’s from Australia and my wife is from Australia, so that was common ground for the both of us. He’s a super funny guy, super sweet and he was very welcoming. Sometimes you walk into a show blindly that has established characters and you are trying to feel everything out and get the vibe on set and everyone was welcoming to me, and he and I really hit it off.
I think Dennis sees a little bit of himself in Silas. He recognizes some of that doubt and uncertainty about fitting into this new world and having to confront choices in your life in the setting of this apocalyptic fallout and trying to figure out who you are and what kind of meaning you want to give your life.
I think he understands the choices that Silas has to make, and I think where Dennis is at right now, he is working on something greater than himself and he’s trying to show Silas that there is a meaning in that and a fulfillment in working on something bigger than yourself that can help save you at the same time.
Silas is kind of wandering this world kind of aimless and needs a father figure, so they kind of bond in that sense to. I don’t think that Silas has ever had a strong father figure and it kind of just naturally happens with these two as you start to see their relationship develop.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the big questions is will we ever find out what happened in the past with Dennis and Huck that ended up upsetting the CRM and sending her on a dangerous two-year mission?
Maximilian Osinski – It’s the big question. All I can say is stay tuned! This whole season is going to expand on the themes of the other two shows and the CRM. They are bringing in Pollyanna McIntosh as well. I think fans are going to have some questions answered and more of that story explored. As far as my backstory is concerned, I’m not really allowed to say what happens, but just stay tuned. The show starts to pick up steam as it keeps going!
Pop Culture Principle – Looking at your work in the past, this is the first time you’ve worked in a genre like this. How have you enjoyed working in the genre with this series?
Maximilian Osinski – It is my first time working in this genre and I love the genre. I’ve always wanted to do westerns and World War II genre films to and then I got this. The horror genre is great because it creates this high stakes world and you put these characters in it and the conflicts that happen reveal people’s humanity. The horror and zombie genre are the epitome of that and that’s why a lot of great stories and performances come from those genre shows and movies. The genres forces people into positions and boxes that you won’t see in everyday life or even in most serialized network television. That is why I was thrilled and excited to jump into this.
Pop Culture Principle – The Walking Dead universe has some of the most hardcore and vocal fans in the television landscape. Have you had any interactions with the fans yet and if so, how have those interactions been?
Maximilian Osinski – The fans on Twitter and Instagram are amazing. I think there already is a #Denny which is for Dennis and Jenny, and I thought it was very flattering. I think it’s great because it shows that the fans were hungry for Huck’s character to have some type of relationship on the show. The fans are solid, and they are so involved with the show.
It’s funny, I worked on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D for a few seasons and I remember when you’d go to these conventions and you meet these fans in person, you are out of this bubble of making this show and you realize that there are people out there who watch your work and it means something to them.
Sometimes they tell you things that you didn’t realize, or you didn’t think about, and it holds me a little more responsible and grateful for the work that I do. I remind myself that this isn’t just a job, but at the end of the day, it’s something that someone around the world is watching and it’s giving them pleasure or teaching them some kind of lesson about themselves or holding up a mirror to their own life and they can relate to it. So, I love meeting the fans and interacting with them and The Walking Dead fans are no joke!
A huge thank you to Maximilian Osinski for taking the time to talk with us.
**Main photo courtesy of Amanda Peixoto-Elkins**
**The Walking Dead: World Beyond photos courtesy of Chip Jackson/Steve Swisher/AMC**