The Walking Dead’s Peter Zimmerman talks to UW about life at The Hilltop, the importance of good leadership, and the amazing fans of TWD.
On The Walking Dead fans haven’t really learned too much about The Hilltop even though the community has been critically important for Rick and the team at Alexandria.And it’s become a haven for Maggie.
The Hilltop’s relationship with The Saviors was the impetus for the infamous slaughter at The Saviors outpost that kicked off a disastrous chain of events that led to the murder of Abe and Glenn and the current war.
But what’s life been like for the survivors at The Hilltop? How do they see all the events that have unfolded? And what made the residents of The Hilltop embrace Maggie and her leadership?
Recently UW got the chance to get the answers to these questions and many more thanks to Peter Zimmerman, who plays Hilltop resident Eduardo.
Always An Artist
Zimmerman grew up acting and has been a professional actor since his teens. He’s also a musician, composer, and producer who has been making music since he was just a child. He was working at Costco when he first auditioned for The Walking Dead. He hadn’t watched the show before he auditioned, which he felt was a benefit because he didn’t have any preconceived ideas of the characters before he met them during the filming scenes at The Hilltop.
The character of Eduardo does appear in The Walking Dead comic but doesn’t have a fully fleshed out backstory either in the comic or on the show. However, Zimmerman has created his own backstory for the character to help him get perspective on how Eduardo would view the post-apocalypse world.
Eduardo’s unofficial backstory is that he was trying to survive after the outbreak alone when he came across Kal (played by James Chen) and the two became friends. Eventually they found their way to The Hilltop and joined the community led by Gregory and found a secure and thriving place to live with other survivors.
When asked if Gregory had been a good leader at The Hilltop before the group met Rick Grimes and the team from Alexandria Zimmerman said that in some ways Gregory was a good leader. Even though he’s manipulative, a coward, and a bit of a “car salesman” Gregory was able to build a community that was thriving. People had security and they were farming and building a sustainable place to live.
The Saviors did find the community Gregory was able to make a deal with them somewhat like the deal King Ezekiel had made with them and as long as they had food and other goods to give to The Saviors that relationship stayed relatively violence free. So Gregory wasn’t a terrible leader before Rick and the others came onto the scene.
When Maggie and Sasha took control of the situation after The Saviors attacked The Hilltop in season 7 it showed the people of The Hilltop what better leadership looked like though. Zimmerman said that Eduardo is a guy who wants to do the right thing and wants to help people and that Maggie is the kind of leader who can give him the opportunity to be a better person.
He talked about a scene in the attack on The Hilltop that was later trimmed down where Maggie, firmly in control of things, orders Eduardo to go help the people on the wall. There were people from The Hilltop who had been tied up and left as walker bait outside the fence. Maggie’s fearlessness and ability to take charge of a situation give Eduardo and the others at Hilltop the direction and purpose that they were lacking.
Zimmerman said that Eduardo needed a strong leader like Maggie to inspire him and guide him. Gregory, who is a coward, never inspired the people of The Hilltop or tried to create any real sense of community. According to Zimmerman that’s why the people of Hilltop were willing to go fight with Rick in Alexandria in the season 7 finale of The Walking Dead. And why they were willing to join the alliance to fight The Saviors.
The Hilltop And The Saviors
The Hilltop also joined the fight against The Saviors because the people there knew that eventually the relationship with The Saviors would go south. That’s just the kind of people that they are, Zimmerman said. No matter how much they get eventually it won’t be enough.
But until Maggie came along The Hilltop residents weren’t ready to fight back against Negan’s forces. Very few of them knew how to fight and with Gregory in charge even though they had the will to fight they didn’t have the leadership they needed to inspire them. Maggie’s arrival forced Gregory’s hand but it was inevitable that there would have been conflict with The Saviors at some point.
What Makes Maggie A Better Leader For The Hilltop
We all know that Maggie, raised by Hershel, is a fantastic leader who strongly believes in doing what’s right and that she can inspire love and devotion. But from Eduardo’s perspective what makes Maggie such a great leader? Zimmerman told me:
“Maggie gave the people at The Hilltop a voice. She knows her people. She knows their names and she cares about all of the people at The Hilltop. She knows what it takes for a community to thrive and she’s totally fearless. She’s invested in us and she brings out the best in the people of the community.”
What Should Happen To Gregory?
Zimmerman thinks Maggie made the right call by putting Gregory in prison with the captured Saviors. He may not deserve to die for selling them out and being a bad leader, but he should definitely be in prison because he can’t be trusted to be let loose in The Hilltop.
Walker Stalker, Cons, And TWDFamily
When asked if he was surprised at how quickly fans of The Walking Dead embraced him and his character Zimmerman said he was surprised but very thankful. He said that The Walking Dead fans are “amazing” and he loves interacting with fans and never takes for granted the love from TWDFamily.
He recently appeared at Walker Stalker Atlanta, his first Walker Stalker appearance, was blown away by the size of the fandom and the genuine love that the fans have for the cast. He has appeared at other cons but hopes to do more appearances at Walker Stalker cons in the future.
So TWDFamily you know what to do – if you want to meet Peter Z get on social media and let Walker Stalker know that you want him to be invited to future cons!
Future Projects, A New EP, And Social Media
Zimmerman has a new EP that will be released on all the usual streaming services like Spotify and iTunes on New Year’s Day. (Production Credits: OM2 & Quis)
To get more information on his music and to stay current on his con appearances fans of The Walking Dead should follow him on Twitter @IAmPeterZ and Instagram @IAmPeterZ and on Facebook. You can also check his website for updates about appearances and to buy autographed items.
Huge thanks to Peter Zimmerman for talking with us at UW and giving us such great insights about Eduardo and The Hilltop!