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Spotlight: Fear the Walking Dead Press Day Interviews - Colman Domingo, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Maggie Grace, & Colby Minifie

Fear the Walking DeadTonight, AMC airs the second episode of season six of Fear the Walking Dead, which focuses on the characters of Strand (Colman Domingo) and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), and how they are being treated by Virginia (Colby Minifie). Next week, fans will get to see what Al (Maggie Grace) and Dwight (Austin Amelio) are up to.

Domingo, Debnam-Carey, Grace, and Minifie recently took part in a press junket for Fear the Walking Dead that SciFi Vision attended, where they talked about what fans can expect this season.

The cast talked about how the characters are split up this season and how that affects them. Domingo likes that they split them up. "I always love when they split us off, because there's always some conflict of ideology with another character, and you're able to go a little deeper. I think like with The Wizard of Oz, you know, there's another part of you that’s in someone else that you need to survive. So, I think that [when] they put people together, like I know that when they put Maggie's character out with Dwight, I think that they needed something from each other. There's something that they have inside [they need to] operate. They’re able to have an influence and move the dial with them in a different way. So, I think, that's what’s interesting about this whole anthology, too. You get to go a little deeper."

Fear the Walking DeadMinifie talked about why Ginny split them up the way she did, "I think, in terms of what Ginny knows about each of these characters, she's trying to eliminate as much "let's pull together and destroy Ginny" energy as much as possible. There’re some people that she has to separate, like June (Jenna Elfman) and Dory (Garret Dillahunt), because she knows that they might want to run away together, and they might do a really good job of convincing people to join them, and that’s a  similar reason as to why Virginia [shoots] Morgan (Lennie James). Anybody that is a leader that can pull people together, she wants to eliminate that kind of energy, because she feels like everybody working under one form of government, I guess you could say, is going to help keep everybody safe."

Grace added that the separation works well because of the current pandemic. "The producers didn't know, obviously, going into this when they wrote the season, that we'd all be living in a COVID era. But thankfully, what yields a lot artistically with these anthology episodes, the small time jump, and hitting the ground running with these kind of deeper forays into relationships, is also very COVID friendly. I don't want to speak for everybody, but I think we feel really supported in in the level of preparation and the protocols that have been laid out, and, you know, some of the smaller groups are going to work well for that, and they were already written that way."

They also talked to the season having those anthology episodes and not filming with a big group, and whether they liked it.

According to Domingo, "I think you get to go deeper, which is a beautiful thing. There was something about even the episode that I directed with Maggie and Austin. I think you get more of their interior lives, and you get these private moments as well. Like the idea of when Maggie's on the rooftop at the end is like, you get the part that is not in response to someone else…It's like, it's just audience and that character at times. So, I think you get a lot more of those moments. I think you get a bit more breathing room, because in these group dynamics scenes you’re just going going going with the action; you don't get a moment to sit and actually be with someone and pop a beer and have a conversation. That's what I enjoyed about these episodes. I’m talking to people more. I'm not just like, "Point, point, go." I'm actually sitting and actually having a conversation. I think, as an actor, that's really fulfilling. I think we all love the action sequences and stuff as well, but I do know that any actor worth his grain of salt loves those moments where you can just go deeper in character and story."

Debnam-Carey agreed and added, "It feels a little bit more powerful in a way too, because it does pull the audience in, and we're not relying as much on external environmental effect. [Domingo] nailed that comment. I find it more enjoyable as an actor. I do love the action stunt stuff, but there's an energy when you just get to work more intimately."

For the full interview, read the transcript below, and don’t forget to check out round one of interviews from the junket for Fear the Walking Dead.


**Note that the beginning of this transcript is missing due to technical difficulties**

Zoom Call
Fear the Walking Dead
Colman Domingo, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Maggie Grace, and Colby Minife

October 1, 2020

QUESTION:  I was wondering what everybody could say about the end is the beginning group and the importance of the keys that everybody is seeking out?

COLBY MINIFIE:   Well, I can answer about the keys. The keys are Virginia's way of putting a gold star on her favorite people. [laughs] I think it's a form of how she keeps the power structure in her communities, and she plays favorites, and she issues her favorites keys.

In terms of the end is the beginning, I can't say much, but I can say they scare the shit out of Virginia.

SCIFI VISION:  Obviously, at the beginning of the season, everybody's paired up differently, but not all together since they've been separated. So, can you kind of talk about those specific pairings without spoiling anything, and maybe how that's going to complicate or help things? Then, for Colby, since you're kind of outside of that group, can you maybe talk about her decisions of why she paired them up the way she did?

MAGGIE GRACE:   Well, the producers didn't know, obviously, going into this when they wrote the season, that we'd all be living in a COVID era. But thankfully, what yields a lot artistically with these anthology episodes, the small time jump, and hitting the ground running with these kind of deeper forays into relationships, is also very COVID friendly. I don't want to speak for everybody, but I think we feel really supported in in the level of preparation and the protocols that have been laid out, and, you know, some of the smaller groups are going to work well for that, and they were already written that way.

COLMAN DOMINGO:   I always love when they split us off, because there's always some conflict of ideology with another character, and you're able to go a little deeper. I think like with The Wizard of Oz, you know, there's another part of you that’s in someone else that you need to survive. So, I think that [when] they put people together, like I know that when they put Maggie's character out with Dwight, I think that they needed something from each other. There's something that they have inside [they need to] operate. They’re able to have an influence and move the dial with them in a different way. So, I think, that's what’s interesting about this whole anthology, too. You get to go a little deeper.

Fear the Walking DeadMAGGIE GRACE:   And Coleman directed that episode.

COLMAN DOMINGO:   And I directed that episode was well. [laughs]

COLBY MINIFIE:   In relation to why Ginny split them up the way she did, I think, in terms of what Ginny knows about each of these characters, she's trying to eliminate as much "let's pull together and destroy Ginny" energy as much as possible. There’re some people that she has to separate, like June and Dory, because she knows that they might want to run away together, and they might do a really good job of convincing people to join them, and that’s a similar reason as to why Virginia [shoots] Morgan. Anybody that is a leader that can pull people together, she wants to eliminate that kind of energy, because she feels like everybody working under one form of government, [laughs] I guess you could say, is going to help keep everybody safe.

MAGGIE GRACE:   The teacher will tell you you’ve got to separate the troublemakers.

[laughter]

MAGGIE GRACE:  
You! Back of the class!

QUESTION:  The first few episodes have been fantastic, and what really struck me is is how conflicted some of the characters are in terms of their choices, seeing Strand and Al have many choices that are really, really difficult. So, can you speak to how difficult choices have shaped the way the season has gone so far?

MAGGIE GRACE:   Yeah, I think Al's really struggling with, you know, "How does tyranny operate?" It tries to silence the Free Press. And I think this character is kind of the closest thing we have to that in this imaginary context. Virginia wants to control how things are being documented and communicated to the whole population. So, Al thinks she's being sent to document failed societies, but she's not entirely sure. Ethically, I think she's really struggling with how to best use what choices she does have and what to show Virginia and what not to, and she's still trying to figure out a way that she can help connect everyone to choose a different reality, because it's pretty clear that Virginia is ruthless in her efficiency and how she thinks the society should be run.

COLMAN DOMINGO:   I think Strand is under the guise of philosophy that he didn't naturally agree with, for a while. Now, the conflict in him is like, "Now I have to follow my own instincts." It's time not to follow the leader or any leader, but the follow your own gut instinct, which is the key to survival.

So, I think he's doing things that are more like himself, but it's in conflict with - you know, he's been paired with Alicia, and he's been responsible to just trying to be his part of his better angels with Alicia, and he's like, "I kind of need to do some dark shit to survive, but you're here, and it's a huge complex. Look away."

COLBY MINIFIE:  Yeah, I feel like having to make hard decisions is the definition of Virginia's character. She was a corporate efficiency expert before the shit hit the fan. I feel like she would go into companies and be like, "Okay, you're fired, and you're fired. You're redundant, and you guys have now this job." [laughs] I think that's what she knows how to do, and that's what she's had to do in order to get to where she is in her power, and making hard decisions is part of her utilitarian theory and philosophy on how to make her communities work.

MAGGIE GRACE:  Raw, unchecked executive power. That should work out well.

COLBY MINIFIE:  Yeah, that's exactly right.

QUESTION:  I was just curious about Alicia's journey this season, just because we’ve basically watched her grow up [to be] a resilient young woman, and some the things are really changing. She's always had somebody there to help her, and now Strand, I won't say he abandons her, but he puts her in a safer position. So, for Alicia, how does that change her sense of safety going forward this season without Strand and without those people that were there in the beginning?

ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY:  I think Alicia's development has been particularly interesting, because it's actually poised her to be where she is right now. You know, she has had to learn from everyone's mistakes, from her own mistakes. She's taken pieces of everyone else's characteristics over the course of these years to understand what works and what doesn't.

I think it goes all the way back to seeing Madison (Kim Dickens), how she was able to function in that environment, which was a little ruthless, and even Nick (Frank Dillane), where it was quite unpredictable, but also at the core of her values she has always understood that empathy and companionship does lead, and it lends itself to success at the end of the day. I also think what's curious with Alicia's situation, is that she knows Strand more than anyone else. She knows that he's a con man; that's how she was introduced to him. She knows that at his essence, while she's seen him evolve and develop into quite a supportive character, she also understands that he's been hiding that duplicitous nature, and that actually does help her. I think sometimes that compassion, that empathy, that unity, it has helped her to get where she is, but whenever there is a reminder, when people reveal themselves to her, she does learn from it, and that's why she's been able to survive this long. I think her being able to balance those two parts of herself is going to help her really move forward, and I think having that reminder, "Well, yes, it's hurtful and obviously he's the one person she still feels a very deep connection for, because she's been there from the start," I think it's also a good reminder that she has all the tools from all different kinds of people to see her on her way to true survival and leadership and safety.

QUESTION:  Mainly my question is for Colman and Alycia. The two of you have been there since day one, and as actors, what has it been like for you to explore these characters for so many seasons and follow their journey? We've seen so many changes and growth within them and now their interactions with new characters as well. What has that been like as an actor, an actress to explore?

COLMAN DOMINGO:  As an actor, I think it's a roller coaster, to be honest. You have such highs and joys, and you're building family. We're all used to that. We all show up, every single one of us. We show up to sets; we meet new people. You work long hours together, and you become a family.

Then the nature of our show is that some people go away, and that's difficult, that can be difficult for all of us, to be honest. Even with characters, your character goes on such a journey. You're constantly checking in like, "Wait a minute, who am I? What do I want? What am I about now? How are we writing for it?" It’s also different writing teams coming on. It's a bit of a roller coaster, and then you're constantly getting resettled into something.

I remember when we made the transition from season three to season four, when we were inviting in new cast members while some were going at the same time. It was a tricky dance for everybody. We're all trying to navigate not only as characters but as human beings that have love and good energy and stick with a new mission, because with our show, there's always a new mission.

Then even as an actor, you've got to get on board with the new mission. You're like, "Wait a minute; I was about this before. Now we're about this?"…You're probably just like, "Ah, I don't know who I am! I don't know what I'm doing!" [laughs]

Fear the Walking DeadMAGGIE GRACE:  Luckily, he was like William Wallace in Braveheart. He just marched in front of the troops at the table read...and he gave a beautiful speech that I wish I had on film.

ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY:  It definitely helps to have the consistency of one another. Colman's literally like actual family. It was very helpful to have that throughout what has been a real roller coaster. I do remember, there was a moment when Frank left. For me, it was a real grieving period, not just for my character, but it did affect me in a really visceral way, because you live this job seven months out of the year, and especially at the time, he was one of the fewer younger cast mates as well. So, we were sharing also a similar life experience, and to lose that, it does affect you, not just as a character, but also as a person, and sometimes it can be a little hard to distinguish when you're working so much.

So, to have someone that's been there from the beginning to remind you what your real life is and what your truth is and who you are does help a lot. I'm very, very grateful for that. But it is also the nature of the job that when it does change, you do want to embrace it, and that change in this industry is very welcome, to have a constant, to delve into new evolutions. That's what keeps this really exciting.



QUESTION: 
How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact the horror story, or the impact of horror storytelling from now onwards?

MAGGIE GRACE:  Oh, well, certainly in how we filmed, but I think we all have worked so hard to develop such a trust as a company over time. I would feel empathy for shows just starting out in this COVID era; it's a lot of ground to cover, but I think everybody's pretty honest; this is a tough show to shoot. It's long hours; it's rugged. We're quite a few hours out and different locations every day, and I think that that lends itself to adaptability here. We love and trust our crew; they're the hardest working crew in the business. I think everyone's able to trust that we're only as strong as our weakest link here in how we handle these protocols, and I think it's great that we've all worked together so much.

Then, storyline-wise, luckily, we're in smaller groups and anthologies, which was always the plan for the season, not enormous crowd scenes, which would be difficult right now. We'd have to not just CG the zombies but CG the crowds, right? [laughs]

COLBY MINIFIE:  In terms of the general horror theme, post-apocalyptic theme, I'm really curious about how writers in general are going to - there's not as much mystery about it now. We've kind of experienced what it's like to have a huge cultural shift dropped on our laps. Like Contagion isn't as far away of a life [laughs] and was depicted in the movie, and I'm really curious about how writers are going to take advantage of that experience now, just in general in the theme.

MAGGIE GRACE:  There are some things they wrote before any of us knew about the pandemic that are pretty chilling.

COLMAN DOMINGO:  The one thing I want writers to absolutely focus on in the future when it comes to the fall of any civilization is the lack of toilet paper.

[crosstalk]

COLBY MINIFIE:  The rise of the bidet in the pandemic.

MAGGIE GRACE:  We got the apocalypse wrong, guys.

COLMAN DOMINGO:  We got it all wrong…

MAGGIE GRACE:  We weren’t looking for clean water; it’s toilet paper.

COLMAN DOMINGO:  [laughs]

QUESTION:  Maggie, episode three was quite an emotional journey, and I was wondering if you could speak to the end of it in that, [what happened] seemed to sacrifice one section of Maggie's happiness in order to bring about happiness for so many others. And if you could speak to how she feels and any regrets.

MAGGIE GRACE:  About falling on her sword? No, I think you you hit the nail on the head. I think it cost her quite a lot in that moment…I was so lucky and happy to have Colman directing that episode. Wasn't that one take, that roof scene?

COLMAN DOMINGO:  Yeah, that was one take.

MAGGIE GRACE:  It was just at the end of such an epic day. Yeah, we were reconciling a pretty crazy schedule and an important episode, and we handle it so beautifully. I just felt so lucky that I got him on that journey, especially for that last scene. It was really special and tough to navigate that moment…

QUESTION:  We're on a completely different format, which we've seen before, but how do you guys like the anthology episodes, compared to having a whole group they're doing little by little in your filming?

COLMAN DOMINGO:  I think you get to go deeper, which is a beautiful thing. There was something about even the episode that I directed with Maggie and Austin. I think you get more of their interior lives, and you get these private moments as well. Like the idea of when Maggie's on the rooftop at the end is like, you get the part that is not in response to someone else…It's like, it's just audience and that character at times. So, I think you get a lot more of those moments. I think you get a bit more breathing room, because in these group dynamics scenes you’re just going going going with the action; you don't get a moment to sit and actually be with someone and pop a beer and have a conversation. [laughs] That's what I enjoyed about these episodes. I’m talking to people more. I'm not just like, "Point, point, go." I'm actually sitting and actually having a conversation. I think, as an actor, that's really fulfilling. I think we all love the action sequences and stuff as well, but I do know that any actor worth his grain of salt loves those moments where you can just go deeper in character and story.

ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY:  It feels a little bit more powerful in a way too, because it does pull the audience in, and we're not relying as much on external environmental effect. You nailed that comment. I find it more enjoyable as an actor. I do love the action stunt stuff, but there's an energy when you just get to work more intimately.

QUESTION:  Alycia, I thought one of the highest developmental points for the character was actually when she found out her father (Cliff Curtis) actually took his [own] life, and it wasn't really a car accident. I'm curious now that Alicia doesn't have anyone around her anymore, if you feel she might revert to that kind of a vulnerable person she was, because there's so many themes about reverting to the person you once were in episode two, and if you'd ever like to see a flashback with her father explored.

ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY:  Yeah. I never thought about doing a flashback like that, but, I mean, I'm always for showing some of the more revealing aspects of a character before this whole apocalypse. I do think it's tragic. I feel like the poor thing, she's had a really rough run, and she doesn't have anyone left, and she's an orphan. I do think now she has had to work through so much pain and grief, and I do think we're on the other side of it, in a way. I think she's realized that there is no point doing this unless you can find hope in the future and hope and possibility with the people around you.

It's interesting you bring up that moment; that was a big developmental point for me, too. I feel like all these little evolutions that Alicia has had, and it's hard to necessarily, when you see it in the big picture, there's just been so many nuance moments that have led her to become the person she is now, and I do think at the end of season five we we did start to lean into a more hopeful version of Alicia. I do think that will bring back a little bit more of her tenderness and her compassion. Still, we've come to learn that she's also pulled from other characters, that pragmatism that she needs to maintain. So, yeah, I do think it all lends itself to the reason why she's still standing.

Fear the Walking DeadSCIFI VISION:  So this show, all The Walking Dead shows, in the early days were about the start of the zombie epidemic and the breakdown of society. As the show's gone on, we've seen people isolated from the people they love, even more so this time now that they're separated, but most of the time the show's about how people are more dangerous in relation to what's going on than the actual zombies.

COLMAN DOMINGO:  You think? [laughs]

SCIFI VISION:  [laughs] Well, in terms of it being about an epidemic, has anything in the show, in that sense, knowing about how people react, has that affected the way that you felt about the real pandemic or how you've acted in any way?

MAGGIE GRACE:  I would agree that the shows demonstrated that toxic leadership is much more dangerous than a zombie apocalypse.

Like I said, we got it wrong, because we didn't predict the toilet paper. [laughs]

[crosstalk]

ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY:  I think it just does confirm the reality that it is other people and other people's motives that you do have to worry about, and that people won't necessarily do what you're thinking they will do. That, I think, rings true as well.

COLBY MINIFIE:  I’m mostly just really impressed with Virginia. When you come on like this and you're given the script, you're like, "Yeah, yeah, she's tough. Tough broad, tough broad." But then, I was driving home after production got shut down; I was driving back to New York, and I was like, "Oh, shit, Virginia is an intense woman. She had to do some crazy shit to get to where she's at." I learned a lot about her. You also learn that the show is accurate in a lot of ways, that people act for themselves, and people pull together. There're both of those moving within you, and Ginny is definitely both, but she's had to do a lot of crazy shit to get to where she's at. And I was like, "Oh, girl’s tough." [laughs]

MAGGIE GRACE:  I think what's so sinister though about our current reality versus the show, is that in the show, they live or die by the alliances and relationships that you nurture. With the pandemic and everyone being isolated in their own home, it’s like the feeling at work and in the storylines too; it’s squad goals. They have a pod, and it works really well. I think that finding that equilibrium in our everyday reality, like we can't be an island. We have to have at least a safe way to still reach out, whether it's across distances or across masks, to nurture our pod and our support of each other.

ALYCIA DEBNAM-CAREY:  Quaratine pod.

MAGGIE GRACE:  Quarantine pod! Hashtag squad goals.

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