Fallout: Walton Goggins Reveals the Hardest Part of Playing the Ghoul

Exclusive: Walton Goggins reveals the most difficult part of becoming a nose-less mutant bounty hunter in Amazon's Fallout series.

Walton Goggins as the Ghoul in Fallout
Photo: Prime Video

The latest trailer for Amazon MGM Studios’ Fallout live-action series opens with an advertisement for Vault-Tec, the corporation behind the giant underground bunkers that will soon become the best refuge for the survivors of a devastating, world-ending nuclear war on the planet’s surface. The well-coiffed gentleman persuading viewers to buy a residence in one of Vault-Tec’s many Vaults — “a veritable Camelot for the new age” — is none other than Walton Goggins‘ smooth-talking Cooper Howard. It’s this same man we later see riding a horse with his daughter, as the two try to escape the bombs falling over Los Angeles. Did they ever make it to that veritable Camelot?

Fast-forward to 219 years later, to the year 2296, and Cooper has been transformed into a grotesque, very noseless bounty hunter known only as The Ghoul. Fans of the video games are undoubtedly familiar with the concept of ghouls, humans who have been heavily mutated by prolonged exposure to nuclear radiation. Most of the ghouls you encounter in the games are mindless zombies who will attack you on sight but a choice few, such as Goggins’ character, are able to retain their humanity, if not their schnoz.

“I’ve gotta be honest with you. The one thing I’m more grateful for than anything in my life right now is my nose,” Goggins tells Den of Geek when we catch up with him about the Ghoul during SXSW 2024. “I give it so much love, I look at it every day, especially after that trailer that was released. Thank God I have a nose.”

The true origin and nature of the bounty hunter we’ll see stalking the shanty towns of the show’s Los Angeles wasteland remain a mystery, but we do know he’ll get up to quite a bit of violence on the series. In the trailers, we see a man who is armed to the teeth and isn’t afraid to unload on raiders and other Wastelanders who get in his way. We also know from the trailers that the Ghoul will eventually cross paths with Ella Purnell’s Vault-Dweller Lucy and Aaron Moten’s Maximus, a squire for the super-soldiers of the Brotherhood of Steel, but being the Ghoul can also be a very lonely business, according to Goggins, who found his transformation a bit difficult at first.

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“The thing I was most surprised about, other than actually seeing it come to life whenever we got to these sets, I didn’t anticipate how lonely it would be for me as the Ghoul,” Goggins admits. “It was a process. When I first walked out of the trailer, people either couldn’t take their eyes off you or didn’t want to look at your at all. I felt very closed in that experience. I was just alone inside of this guy’s head.

“It took some adjustment to understand how to talk to people as this guy and how to move in these clothes and in this world. But once that kind of opened up, and I had the opportunity to play Cooper Howard, which we can’t go into that much, it fleshed the experience out for me.”

Through the Ghoul, and Cooper if we’re judging by his cowboy getup in the trailers, the Fallout show will look to capture one of the key elements of the video games: the lawless, Wild West nature of the Wasteland. Goggins is of course no stranger to Westerns, most famously playing Mannix in Quentin Tarantino‘s The Hateful Eight, and he’s very excited to be a part of a very different take on the genre in Fallout.

“It’s no secret from the trailer that there’s a Western element to this show and I’m a part of that experience. The thing I’m most excited for the audience to see is how organically the origin story is tied into this visual expression of this experience. It’s there for a reason and when I read it and I understood it, it’s like, ‘Oh wow, of course this is what it is,’ and I’ve never experienced anything like that, and I’ve done a number of Westerns in my career. It’s pretty cool.”

Elsewhere, we talked to producers Todd Howard and Jonathan Nolan about the Amazon show’s connection to the next Fallout game and we also caught up with the showrunners to unlock the many secrets of this video game adaptation.

Fallout hits Amazon Prime Video on April 11.

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