There’s nothing better than zombies in the morning… which is why we were thrilled to take part in the press room for Fear the Walking Dead during San Diego Comic-Con. We got the scoop on what to expect from Season 3B and more from Executive Producer / Showrunner David Erickson and cast members including Kim Dickens, Frank Dillane, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Colman Domingo, Mercedes Mason, Dayton Callie, Sam Underwood, Daniel Sharman and Michael Greyeyes.
Let’s break it down…
On Distinctions from The Walking Dead
While Fear was kickstarted from its relationship to The Walking Dead, the show has really tried to find its own footing – something that the cast and creators feel they have accomplished more clearly than ever in this season.
“From the very beginning, Robert [Kirkman, The Walking Dead creator] encouraged us to do our own thing and not feel beholden to The Walking Dead and their story – to look different, to tell different stories, [in] a different time period, obviously,” explained Kim Dickens (Madison). “With that encouragement and that license, I feel like it is Season 3 where we finally get our groove on. We finally have our sea legs, and we’re doing our own thing.”
Seeing Fear come into its own is just one of the reasons that Dickens says Season 3 is the one she’s most proud of so far. “I just feel like stories and characters and everything is really strong and epic throughout the season, and to get a fourth season has just blown my mind,” she said.
On Taking Things South of the Border
Fear the Walking Dead experienced a major shift during Season 2 as the action moved from California to Mexico. Executive Producer and Showrunner David Erickson spoke about how this transition opened up the show to an exploration of new themes and ideas, particularly during the current season. ‘Thematically, one of the things Season 3 is about is resources, incorporation of resources, and land – and specifically, relocation. […] In terms of backdrop, that was the intention [behind the move to Mexico.]”
For the cast, moving production to Mexico has been a rewarding experience both on- and off-screen. “There’s such a rich sense of culture, because we’re actually immersed in Mexico,” said Mercedes Mason (Ofelia). “You get all the goods and the scents and the smells, and all the locals – we have so many locals on our crew. I can’t remember the percentage exactly, but it is a large percentage. It’s so nice to sort of indoctrinate us as actors into that, because you feel like you’re really part of it.”
On Culture and Humanity
The move to Mexico also opened the show up to a variety of fresh cultures – including the Native American culture, particularly with the introduction of Qaletaqa Walker (played by Michael Greyeyes). Portraying this rich culture in a respectful and intriguing light was important to the show and really came through on-screen.
Speaking of his impressions of how the show handled portraying the Native American culture, Greyeyes said, “The storyline that Dave [Erickson] and the writers created is really exciting because it’s riddled with tension between what audiences expect, and they play in and through stereotypes – the stereotypes of violence and brutality within our community. But actually, I applaud the approach – the depiction of our culture – and I’m very interested in that, as an actor [and] a scholar.”
Greyeyes was intrigued not only by the portrayal of Native American culture on Fear, but also by the nature of violence and how it factors into the structure of society in a post-apocalyptic situation. “This is a world in which all the old rules are broken, because this is the end of the world,” he said. “What emerges is actually our most base instincts. How do we survive? What do we need to do in order to ensure our own safety? When I looked at the violence and just how brutal [Walker] is… I’ve often played characters who shied away from all that, but with this role, I was able to embrace it. In the end, what we’re seeing is the depiction of a community that’s vibrant, that’s unafraid, that’s not broken. He’s a true leader.”
Colman Domingo also spoke passionately about humanity as a whole and how human nature plays into what we’re seeing on Fear. In his eyes, there is hope for this group to survive and rebuild. “I think that’s the nature of humanity, and I think that’s what we’re exploring on the shows [The Walking Dead and Fear] – you’re always hopeful and seeking this place we can build on,” he said. “I think Madison said so clearly in this season, she’s like, “We can thrive here. We can make something of this.” […] We’re constantly gonna be searching, because I think that’s just the nature of who we are as humans.”
On Character and Brotherly Bonds
Daniel Sharman – of Teen Wolf and The Originals fame – has been one of our favorite additions to Fear the Walking Dead. He spoke of his experience thus far playing Troy, a high-ranking (and violent) member of the Broke Jaw Ranch community. “It’s been a really interesting first half of the season for this character. It’s been quite a fascinating ride and roller coaster,” he said. “The challenging thing with it is always trying to make something that’s real or believable about the situation, and what I think is so good about the show is that the outside perimeters of what they’re saying is This is a zombie apocalypse, but it doesn’t feel like it’s that thing. It’s a very specific and well-made investigation into human beings, and I think that’s what’s really interesting about it and that’s what I loved about the character. I don’t think there’s a character on this show that is black and white.”
Daniel also had an interesting time of it coming into the cast as production shifted to Mexico. The setting created some unique circumstances that brought everyone together very quickly, despite the less than friendly nature of Troy as a character. “It’s quite interesting joining a cast when you’re also playing a racist, white, very odd family,” Sharman said. “That’s quite an odd way to introduce yourself. We shoot in a very remote location in Mexico, so you feel like you’ve got to [bond.] You form these really amazing attachments to people very quickly – and that happens in the show, which I’m really glad the writers put in there. It doesn’t matter how crazily different [people] are – you will always form these tendrils of attachment. That’s what’s beautiful about the writing, even though we’re so different.”
Sam Underwood, who plays Troy’s half-brother Jake, expanded on the dichotomy between the two men on-screen. “I think that from a thematic standpoint, the basic idea is that Troy represents the arm of society that particularly right now is angry and fearing for survival. There’s fear of the other, and there’s this real animal need to protect ourselves,” he said. “Troy represents, in my mind, that need for intense survival and aggression towards protecting yourself, whereas Jake – being a constitutional lawyer – he’s the exact opposite, in a way, hoping to rebuild a crumbling or crumbled democracy. […] Jake thinks that civilization needs some form of democracy or some form of constitution in a way to keep everyone maintaining a sense of morals and ethics, and I think that’s the question that comes up a lot between us in this beautiful clash of ideals, which continues a lot throughout the season.”
We look forward to seeing the strained bond between the two brothers continue to play out when Fear the Walking Dead resumes – not to mention what’s in store for the other survivors as they continue to face the dead.
Fear the Walking Dead will return to AMC on Sunday, September 10 at 9:00pm ET.
Featured Image via Walking Dead Wiki