Fallout’s Walton Goggins on Discovering The Ghoul’s Past as Well as His Future

Technically, Walton Goggins is playing one character in the new Prime Video series Fallout — the catch is, he has two names, and two faces. Or, as Goggins puts it to Consequence, “I feel like they’re two separate people that are connected throughout time. It is the same person, but they are very different people. They’re connected, but I needed to understand who Cooper Howard was first in order to understand who the Ghoul was, and what he had lost.”

It’s an approach that allows Goggins to dwell in both worlds depicted by the series: The alternate universe America that existed prior to the nuclear apocalypse, as well as the bleak future to come. We first meet Goggins as Cooper Howard, a popular movie star known for his work in Westerns — over 200 years later, that name is long gone from memory, as Cooper has become The Ghoul, an exceptionally self-reliant semi-undead survivor searching the wasteland for answers to questions from the Before Times.

Thanks to flashbacks, both iterations of the man are seen frequently in the first season, and in order to play them both, Goggins says he “just really meditated on how to connect them. What are the similarities that one would bring before living before this cataclysmic event, and two hundred years after this cataclysmic event?”

One answer he landed on comes from something that he thinks “is inherent in people as they get older, which is a sense of humor. And a person that has charisma usually always has charisma. So that was something else.” Meanwhile, in addition to the qualities that made Cooper Howard a movie star, Goggins says that “there is a grit, a survival instinct, that is there for both people.”

Figuring out these kinds of details, Goggins says, is something he commits to fully on projects like this: “I get off on that part of the process, man. That is time alone, countless hours I live in my imagination — so much when I am working, sometimes my family will have to say, ‘Hey, come back. Come back.’ ‘Oh, I’m so sorry. I’ve just drifted.’”

That preparation, he says, involves spending time “in my imagination thinking about how did Cooper get into this position, and where did he come from? Who was his first girlfriend? What was the drive like to Los Angeles — because he’s not from there, you know? I just relish that time alone. It’s always been the joy of it for me.”

Fallout (Prime Video)