‘Fear the Walking Dead’ – Alycia Debnam-Carey and Frank Dillane Interview

Fear the Walking Dead Alycia Debnam Carey and Frank Dillane Interview
Alycia Debnam Carey as Alicia and Frank Dillane as Nick in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ (Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3 / AMC)
AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead stars Alycia Debnam-Carey and Frank Dillane joined writer/executive producer David Erickson at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con to chat about the new dramatic series that explores life in the first days of the zombie apocalypse. Erickson, Dillane, and Debnam-Carey teamed up for roundtable interviews to discuss the characters played by Dillane and Debnam-Carey and the world in which this The Walking Dead spin-off exists.

Alycia Debnam-Carey, Frank Dillane, and Writer/Executive Producer David Erickson Roundtable Interview:

You have big shoes to fill by following in the footsteps of The Walking Dead, right?

David Erickson: “I sort of intellectually knew that and I know the numbers the show does. I’m a fan of the show. I was a fan of the comic. They’re very big shoes to fill, but I also think it gives us a little bit of latitude in a way, being this sort of twisted step-kid of the original show.

The wonderful thing is we have the good fortune of working with Gale [Anne Hurd], Robert [Kirkman], obviously, and Dave Alpert and Greg [Nicotero]. So in a way we have people shepherding us through, so we’re minding the rules and the mythology of the original show and the comic. So it’s a bit of a hybrid, but I hope it complements the original show but also tonally creatively explores some different avenues that they didn’t have an opportunity to do just based on the way the comic book’s structured.

Someone asked me what’s harder: Is it to adapt the comic as [Scott M.] Gimple’s been doing so well for the past couple seasons, or to have free rein and a blank slate? I think it’s actually easier for us only because the challenge for Scott and his group is they have to find these interesting little twists and these ways to remix what already works really well and do it in a way that it’s not going to offend the fans too much. It’s not going to really go too far against the grain of the comic, which I think is impressive how they manage that all the time. Whereas we get to go, as long as we don’t have our zombies fly, we get to go pretty much wherever we want to which is kind of nice.”

How are you going to distinguish the show from The Walking Dead?

David Erickson: “That will be the challenge. The thing for us right now, when I say we’re loosely following the period of time that Rick was in his coma, if you really track the days when the show airs, Robert’s always said in his mind it was four or five weeks before Rick woke up. I don’t know that we’re actually at that point when season one ends. So it gives us, what we establish in season one, we can continue to explore going into. So in my mind, there’s a world in season two. Maybe that gets us to the point where we’re full on apocalypse and if we wanted to end that season and cut to Rick in Atlanta waking up, we could do that possibly.

The other thing that I’m excited about for season two is, getting into that now and the room is going to start in August, is this question of Rick and Shane were both cops. One of the very strong themes in that show was, and is, but was initially about leadership. Who’s the captain? Who do we follow? But you had two characters who knew how to handle guns, had leadership skills, had those qualities already. And you also were stepping into a camp outside Atlanta where people already knew what the rules were. They already knew how to defend. They already knew. We haven’t had a chance. What you’ll see as the season progresses as you get into season two is we don’t quite get that far. So for us season two, the whole aspect of survival and surviving on one’s own, not having any of those skills, not having any of the benefits I think is going to give us a lot of story, which will again continue to cut through.

There’s a seam I think will cut through which is still exploring narrative that Robert didn’t have a chance to do, which honestly I think is one of the reasons he wanted to do this. You write something and you’ll look back and you realize, ‘Oh, I could have done this whole other chapter here.’ I think he looked back and saw there were certain elements of the show that he would like to have explored. That’s really what we’re doing. Whether it’s a question of killing a zombie and what that means, killing a zombie that seems to be more or less human, what’s the emotional toll of that? He really wanted to, the first time we sat down, he wanted to explore that. He wanted to explore what it meant which is not something you generally see in the genre, which I thought was interesting. So I think we can ride at least two seasons before we get to that place of how do we not make every other episode a supply run – not that there’s anything wrong with supply runs – and how do you avoid, at a certain point we’re going to have to find a sanctuary somewhere. I think that’ll be the challenge season three and beyond is how do we do that and how do we feel like we’ve now stepped into the world of WD1 and we still keep ourselves distinctive?”

Fear the Walking Dead Frank Dillane and Alycia Debnam-Carey Interview
Kim Dickens, Cliff Curtis, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Frank Dillane in ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ (Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels 3 / AMC)

What was the appeal of playing Alicia?

Alycia Debnam-Carey: “For me, what drew me to Alicia and specifically this initial script was that she’s got a toughness to her. She does have that kind of urban edge that is so L.A. L.A. has only very recently become home to me. It’s a very new home and so when I read the script, it actually coincided with my discovery of Los Angeles and what I knew of it, because I’m obviously from not L.A. But, yeah, so reading that, those elements resonated with me, that kind of street quality to her but also coming from an edge, a really cool edge. That’s what drew me actually, quite a lot.”

Frank, playing this character who’s troubled, could he be the guy equipped to handle this?

Frank Dillane: “Well, yeah. I think he probably would do quite well in this world. I think he’s got really nothing to lose and I think that’s quite a good way to approach the apocalypse. I think he’s been living in chaos or a much more visceral [world]. Addicts – or heroin addicts – they’re constantly living with life and death. That’s where they revolve at. It’s always life or death, so I think it’s quite an easy transition.”

When people are turning they look off kilter, but is that normal to him?

Frank Dillane: “I think so. We have how many problems: Am I tall enough? Does my mom love me? All these kinds of problems. If you’re a junkie, you’ve just got one problem: Where’s my next fix coming from? So I think that single-mindedness and that simplicity of action, I think, will fare well. Or not.”

Alycia Debnam-Carey: “Yeah, I was just saying that as well. That was interesting because Frank just said, ‘You’ve got nothing to lose.”

Frank Dillane: “You ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose. That’s the Dylan lyric.”

Alycia Debnam-Carey: “You were right. Nick has nothing to lose. Alicia has everything to lose. And I think when you fall in that position then, you either rise up from it or you succumb to it.”

Frank Dillane: “Because everything you’ve got to lose is like, I don’t mean bullsh*t but it’s material things. It’s not real stuff.”

Alycia Debnam-Carey: “Totally. Like possessions. They’re wants and needs and desires.”

Frank Dillane: “That’s the first thing that’s got to go in the apocalypse. You’ve got to get rid of your ego.”

Alycia Debnam-Carey: “That’s the first thing that goes. You either adapt or you die.”

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