If you asked Dean Winters how he’s doing, he’d probably give half a thumbs-down.
The 57-year-old actor revealed that he is still in constant agony after undergoing several amputations 12 years ago.
“I haven’t taken a step since 2009 without being in pain,” Winters exclusively told Page Six. “I’ve got neuropathy on, you know, on a whole different level where I can’t feel my hands and my feet. But if I stepped on a pebble, it’s like I go through the roof.”
In June of that year, Winters contracted a bacterial infection and went into cardiac arrest for over two minutes during an ambulance ride across Central Park. Paramedics revived him, but he suffered through multiple operations and gangrene, which resulted in the amputation of two toes and half of a thumb.
But over the years, the “Oz” alum has just learned to live with the endless discomfort.
“It’s a very weird dichotomy. It’s like, it’s very hard to figure out. Nothing you can do about it,” he said. “I’ve been sucking it up because, you know, the alternative is not a place where I want to be.”
Winters said he had initially turned down his memorable role as the character Mayhem in Allstate insurance commercials because he was in the hospital undergoing a 10th surgery. He eventually gave in, though, as he said, “Allstate was relentless.”
“It’s crazy if you look in the Webster dictionary, the Old English definition of the word ‘mayhem’ is ‘one with amputations.’”
Not only is Allstate reviving his Mayhem character but Winters has several other big projects in the works, including a holiday flick called “Christmas vs. The Walters.”
As for whether he gets into the holiday spirit, Winters insisted he’s no Grinch.
“I come from a big Scottish-Irish family, and we celebrated Christmas a lot,” he explained. “Our whole lives, but I’m single with no kids, so I don’t have the immediate experience at home. But … I rely on the rest of my family for that.”
And that’s not all the “Rescue Me” star has in the pipeline. Last year, he spent months in Australia shooting the highly anticipated Peacock adaption of the Netflix docuseries “Tiger King” called “Joe Exotic.”
In it, he plays Jeff Lowe, the bandanna-wearing, Las Vegas-loving businessman who partnered up with Joe Exotic. For the role, Winters gained 20 pounds while sitting in a Sydney hotel room under quarantine, which he achieved by microwaving pint after pint of ice cream and downing them like smoothies.
Winters clarified that the series doesn’t use real tigers, and he’s hopeful that it will shine a light on the disturbing tiger industry.
“I took the job in hopes that people who hadn’t seen the documentary would just get really angry and just shut these zoos down because there’s no reason anyone should have any of these wild cats in their own possession,” he said. “It’s just horrible.”
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