Ahead of season three’s return, Alasdair Stuart chatted with Fear The Walking Dead actors Danay Garcia and Daniel Sharman about ‘eye jail’, living the dusty life and how hurricanes really mess with your make-up.
“It’s always interesting when you join a show that’s been established. Especially when it’s set up the world and the people in it. It’s a tough thing because you’re coming in and joining an orchestra. And you can’t overplay, you can’t overdo certain things, but you do have to add to that orchestra,” says Fear The Walking Dead newcomer Daniel Sharman, who plays Troy Otto in season three.
Still, Sharman does already have some experience in that area, having left Teen Wolf to join The Originals. “I’m interested in coming in as a character and shaking up the world a little bit. It allows you to push the world to its limits in some way. While it’s always slightly more difficult to join a world, I feel safer joining it than beginning it.”
Not that there’s any time to feel safe on a show like Fear The Walking Dead. “You don’t know when your expiration date is, all you know is anything is possible,” adds Danay Garcia, who plays Luciana Galvez, with a laugh. “And it’s not just me, the entire cast is in the same boat. We live in this building and we go to the gym and you’ll see somebody else coming in and be like ‘Did you see the script?’ ‘No, what’s going to happen?’ So we’re in this constant weird state of not knowing – we don’t know until we know. I heard on Game of Thrones they get all the scripts in advance, and that would be fantastic!”
Fear The Walking Dead Season Three returns on 11 September 2017, airing in the UK on AMC, exclusive to BT, Mondays at 2am and 9pm.
Would you really want to know the script ahead of time?
Danay Garcia (DG): I’ve learned to embrace it. You want to know the entire arc, like where you’re going, that’s natural. If you shoot a movie they give you the full script. If you do a play, you do the whole thing. With TV, not knowing comes with the territory so you need to be very creative. You have to be open and at the same time have this very direct line to where you want to go and where you think it’s going. You need to use your imagination a lot more if you don’t have the entire story. Which is easy when there are zombies everywhere. [Laughs]
If Luciana were to die, how would you like her to go out?
DG: I think I would like to leave gloriously. I think she deserves that. I wouldn’t like to just be slammed by a car. [Laughs] I think if she was going to go, I’d like her to leave in a battle. One where she’s fighting for whatever she believes and her intention is clear until the end. I wouldn’t like for it to be something like jumping off a building.
Daniel, your character has a big impact on the show…
Daniel Sharman (DS): It’s always really nice to play a character whose emotions and actions dictate the action of the entire show. You feel like you really have to do it justice and that’s a good challenge. More than anything else, I feel like he gets his fair share of time. The writers have done an amazing job with who he is so I feel lucky to be able to play in that world.
Does it help that he isn’t a replacement character?
DS: I think so. He exists entirely in that world and they’ve come to join his world. There’s something lovely in that. You’re not going somewhere to be the new kid on the block, they’re coming to you. When it’s your world and your things are all there, that gives you a sense of settlement. You get to see where he grew up, how he grew up, his family. You really get to know who he is and that’s harder if you’re joining someone else in their place. You’re dealing with it tangentially in that case, whereas here you’re getting to see it – and that’s a lovely thing.
The word ‘sociopath’ gets thrown around a lot with his character. Is that fair?
DS: No, I don’t think so. There are elements of sociopathy, but ultimately I think he does feel. I wanted the sociopath element of the character to be taken away. You don’t have to agree with his actions but you do have to accept that they come from somewhere. Playing a sociopath is almost easier, because there are no ramifications and no identification with the world. So I thought it was more interesting to not play into that stereotype. Of course, the word sociopath still gets thrown around and that’s probably me not doing my job right. But it was important to me that wasn’t the only thing you see. That hopefully you come to an understanding with him, to see that he believes he’s doing it for a reason.
That does come through…
DS: [Laughs] Oh, good. Hopefully by the end of it, you’ll get to a point where you think, ‘Maybe he’s a not a sociopath. Maybe there is a person in there.’
One of the best elements of your character, Danay, is her strong moral core. Is that something that attracted you to her?
DG: The fact that she has good morals is what saves her to some extent. She knows her own boundaries. She knows exactly when to go, ‘Okay, this doesn’t resonate with my values, at all.’ For example, she left the ranch because she doesn’t agree with them. Her morals aren’t synchronised with the people there. So she’s living on her own, leaving behind the only person she has left because she can’t handle this. It comes with a price but it saves her because she has her soul. She’s not lost. She’s centred. Even though she almost died, she knows, ‘I’d rather die in a battle than be living here with these people who killed my family.’ That’s what keeps her sane and I admire that, because she doesn’t sell herself for nothing.
What happens to her relationship with Nick Clark, played by Frank Dillane, now she’s left?
DG: Working on that split up was very hard for me. Because we had such a great time working together first of all. He’s a great actor and a great human – so funny and charismatic. But as characters, it’s difficult to see them grow apart. I’m at a place where I’m rooting for them to be together, because they fell in love in the time of an apocalypse. If you are able to open your heart in that space, it’s because it’s worth it. So I’m hoping they will come back together.
Did you have time to get to know Frank before filming?
DG: Not at all! I was driving in a minivan from my hotel with the guy who plays Alejandro, and we ask the guy in the back what he does, and he’s like, ‘I’m a stunt.’ So I get to the set and I see a guy walking covered in blood who kind of looks like Frank, so I’m like, ‘Hey! I’m Danay I play Luciana!’ And the guy’s like, ‘I’m the stunt you just saw in the car.’ [Laughs] So I go back to my chair and I’m waiting for my moment, when Frank comes in. But I think he’s the stunt. And I’m like, ‘Hey what happened?’ and he’s like, ‘Hi? I don’t know you.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re the real Frank!’ [Laughs] So that’s how we met and that broke the ice.
Troy’s relationship with Madison is interesting. She seems to be the first person he views as an equal, if not an intellectual superior…
DS: Exactly. And that’s the crux of that relationship. I think she’s the first person he’s ever really respected and there are a lot of emotions wrapped up in that, which I love. It was great playing that with Kim because there’s such a fascinating relationship there. There’s a lot of emotions and a lot of things Troy is experiencing for the first time with her. He hasn’t really had an adolescence, so a lot of this is wrapped up in a sexual thing, but also in a motherly thing. A lot of those things are him bouncing off those ideas because he’s never had that before.
What he loves is that she plays the game. People assume she’s playing Troy but Troy is well aware he’s being played. Just to play the game is a wonderful thing for him – he’s a willing partner. To say she’s manipulating him is to take away something of his intelligence. It’s like finding a chess partner who’s your equal, so even if you’re beaten you’re still happy for the challenge.
Both Luciana and Frank have been pioneers of the ‘smear yourself in walker guts’ school of stealth. What does that smell like?
DG: The blood they use is the sort you’d normally buy in a store but they use so much of it that they actually make it themselves. So it’s gooey and in the beginning when it’s wet it smells like chemicals, like paint. You’re like ‘Wow, that’s paint!’ [Laughs] But every time it rains a little bit, and we had three hurricanes at the start of this season, the make-up would go away. So Tracy our make-up lady would run up with a bucket of blood and put it back on.
Were you schooled in the ways of The Walking Dead before starting on the series?
DG: I’m really afraid of horror films so if I saw blood I didn’t like it! But when The Walking Dead started, one of my friends was in it: Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Rick’s wife. We worked together on Prison Break so when I found out she was in the show I was like, ‘Oh my God! Congrats!’ And I started watching from the beginning. It didn’t scare me, either. It wasn’t like horror, it was like this new world where you had to decide what to do.
What I didn’t tell Sarah when she got the part was that I thought, ‘Oh poor thing, she’s going to be in the middle of nowhere, covered in blood and it’s hot and humid in Atlanta, Georgia.’ And five years later I’m in Mexico covered in blood. [Laughs] You get used to it. I get to wear a dress now, so I don’t feel underdressed. I’ve been underdressed for an entire year.
Speaking of being dressed, how’s the eye?
DS: [Laughs] You know, it’s recovering. I thought I was going to have this prosthetic thing on my eye indefinitely but his capacity to heal has been quiet remarkable. I thought it might be a rough seven months but I got out of ‘eye jail’ pretty quickly. I was quite impressed with that.
How do you feel about the show’s portrayal of its female characters?
DG: For me, just being part of a world which is so manly, you never wear anything a woman would normally wear. The fact that this show is so female oriented, it’s how a woman would take care of her family in this time of apocalypse. And it’s been really fun! We’re really smart creatures and how we use our psychology to solve problems is dark and scary and twisted. It has everything and I really enjoy being part of this representation of women, of warriors in the time of the apocalypse. We have fantastic writers this year, the writing team has been incredible.
What has been the audience response to season three?
DG: We’ve been in Mexico since December and it’s been really challenging. All that adrenalin that we put in, it really shows. We’re not acting exhausted, we’re really living the dust and dirt. I think people respond to that and that’s what makes it exciting. We’re not in a studio. [Laughs]