***The following interview contains spoilers for 7X03***
In tonight’s episode of Fear the Walking Dead
, “Cindy Hawkins,” June (Jenna Elfman) is holed up in Teddy (John Glover)’s bunker with John Dory, Sr., who turns out to be a really bad roommate. John breaks all the rules he and June have agreed to and, as his hallucinations escalate, eventually leaves her pinned under a cave-in with dangerous strangers closing in.
“I don't believe that he intentionally wants to endanger anyone,” explained actor Keith Carradine in an exclusive interview with SciFi Vision. “I think that he cannot help himself at this point. He just can't stop himself. I think that that most addicts will tell you that when they are deep into an addiction, that's what it becomes for them. It's out of their control.
“…He's putting them both at risk as a result of his compulsive, impulsive behaviors, and his inability to resist the drive in him to get the answers to these things,” he continued, “I think that that is what's putting them both at risk…Their ability to get through it and the circumstances that just by pure luck enable him to survive, I think in the end he's a different person because of that.”
By the end of the episode, John and June find themselves in Victor Strand’s tower. “It's a world which John is not comfortable in and very suspicious of,” said Carradine, “but he also understands that he has to survive. He's got to navigate his way in Strand's world and find his place in that world.” Carradine gave no hint of what’s to come, saying only, “It'll be interesting to watch how that unfolds.”
During the interview, Carradine shared his thoughts about John’s alcoholism and described what it was like to shoot scenes in the cramped and claustrophobic bunker. Read the transcript of the interview below and catch the next episode of Fear the Walking Dead
on AMC and AMC+.
SCIFI VISION: To me this episode feels like essentially a horror movie, and I wonder if that's how the cast and crew approached this. We've seen that lately on the franchise, on the flagship show also, Walking Dead did sort of a horror movie recently.
Well, the world of The Walking Dead
is full of horror, isn't it? I mean, the landscape, the constant peril, the threat of the walking dead themselves, and now, at this point in the story, the decimation that has occurred to the world in which they are still managing to survive and struggling to find a way to live. So, in terms of it being a horror film, absolutely, one hundred percent, but it's also a story of survival, and it's a story of perseverance against overwhelming odds. And in the course of telling that story, in this particular episode, it's also the story of these two people finding a way to survive and trying to understand who they are to one another, how they can coexist in this incredibly strict environment, and watching how things are going to unfold. So, John has lived alone for I guess, like, forty years, ever since he left his family, and it turns out, he's not a very good roommate to June down there.
Well, I say that's the safe thing to say. He hasn't had a lot of practice at being a roommate. So, it's a [process of] feeling out one another and also the things that he's dealing with in terms of his own character flaws and his addiction. As that is revealed during the course of the episode, one begins to understand what he's struggling with. I've often heard it explained that addicts are very, very selfish in a lot of ways. There're a few important issues on which June thought they were in agreement, and as the Cindy Hawkins case escalates, John does whatever he wants, and he's putting June's life in danger - with the radio, by leaving the bunker, things like that. And that really struck me when, I think it’s June says to him, “What do you owe the living? You're so obsessed with doing right by this person who's dead; what do you owe the living?” Is John just not able to think that way right now?
Well, I don't think he's rational. It's an irrational behavior, and it's an irrationality that comes from a combination of struggling with withdrawal, from his addiction to alcohol, as well as the irrationality of trying to come to terms with something with which he has been obsessed for for years. That obsession results in a compulsion, a compulsive behavior. I don't believe that he intentionally wants to endanger anyone; I think that he cannot help himself at this point. He just can't stop himself. I think that most addicts will tell you that when they are deep into an addiction, that's what it becomes for them. It's out of their control, and unless they get dried out, and then get some guidance in terms of how to stay that way, then the behavior is fairly consistently compulsive, and therefore, the perception is that it's selfish. Well, of course it is. On the surface, it's selfish behavior, but it's not a selfishness that is intentional in that way. So, yes, he's putting her at risk. He's putting them both at risk as a result of his compulsive, impulsive behaviors and his inability to resist the drive in him to get the answers to these things. I think that that is what's putting them both at risk, and obviously, as things unfold during the course of the episode, he puts them both in great peril. Their ability to get through it and the circumstances that just by pure luck enable him to survive, I think in the end he's a different person because of that. And June forgave him pretty readily there at the end. She says if he hadn't put them in danger, they never would have been saved.
And that's the irony of it, and I think she recognizes that, but that's her character; that's her nature. She's a bit of a saint in terms of her drive to be a healer and someone who helps people. I think that's a very strong impulse in her, and I think that's one of the things that John recognized pretty early on when they wound up in each other's lives, and I think he's responded to that. So, speaking of his addiction, I love that final scene with you and that scene stealer Colman Domingo. I don't know how you can act with a guy who gets to wear that costume.
Well, you know what? Colman, it doesn't matter what he wears. He's just brilliant. He's one of the world's really good actors, man, and it was a real pleasure to get to play a scene with him. I hope I get to do it again. So, John's an alcoholic. He's been sober two days, maybe?
Yeah. And the first thing Victor Strand does is offer him a drink, of course. So, what's going through John's mind in that moment?
Well, temptation. I mean, he certainly remembers the great pleasure that it would give him as an addict to slake that particular thirst. It's a struggle, and every addict will tell you that it's one day at a time. That's the classic AA response. I have friends in the program; I know a little bit about it, because of these friendships and what they've shared with me. So, that was helpful in terms of playing this this guy in this stage of his life, but you never lose your taste for it. My understanding is that you never lose your taste for it. You have to at every moment, when that little urge presents itself, you have to have the tools. You have to know yourself well enough to be able to say no, and I think that that moment, when John is looking at that glass of scotch - and it's a really good scotch, he knows that [laughs]
- I think it's hard for him, but he realizes also that his survival depends on his being able to maintain his sobriety. So, is he also thinking in that moment - I read that a little bit as Victor's laying a trap, maybe or Victor's testing him.
Well, I think [when] Victor's offering the booze, I don't know, actually, at that point, how much Victor knows about John's addiction. I don't think he's aware of that, of what John has gone through. So, I think as soon as he offers that to him, he recognize what he's dealing with, who he's just offered a drink to, what this guy's demons are, and I think, that in that moment, Strand is probably realizing that this is another weapon at his disposal. Right, right. John's been asleep for two days, I thought.
Yes, he has. Victor might know.
Well, he might, but, I'm not aware of any scenes that took place where it was revealed to him. So, that would be an assumption that the audience would have to make. Right. Okay, switching gears, I wonder if you could tell me about that set, that bunker made of buried school buses.
Wasn't that amazing? This art department is extraordinary. That was based on an actual bunker that was made of buried school buses, I believe, somewhere in Canada, that somebody found, wrote about or something, and that's what they did. They brought these school buses in, put them together, and it was incredibly effective.
And to work in that environment, it was as stifling as it felt like in the film. It's small; it's contained. They would move air through it when they could between takes, but during a take you have got to shut that stuff off for the sound, and then it enhances the feeling of claustrophobia down there. So, that was a very effective environment in which to give those performances that Jenna and I were required to give. The environment itself in which we were filming was a great enhancement for that. Wow, so those were real school buses. It really is almost as small as it looks.
Absolutely, it's exactly what it looks like, and the walls do not move. It's not like some movie sets where they build them, and you have three walls that can move out so you can put a camera in a certain spot. These are school buses; you couldn't do that in there. So, it was very tight, and sometimes the ceiling was low, and you'd have to duck to pass through a doorway. So, it was very, very effective in that way. Ron Underwood directed this, right? Have you worked together before?
I had not worked with Ron before, but he's a wonderful director. He's a sweetheart of a guy, and he directed one of my favorite movies ever, City Slickers
. I was able to share my admiration for him based on some of the work that he's done. It's one of the pleasures of working on a show like this, that it attracts that kind of talent to come in and work with us. City Slickers and Tremors, two of the great westerns of all time.
Indeed, yes. Absolutely. He's worked so extensively. He directed a great, great episode of The Walking Dead. This might have been his third episode, I think, in the franchise.
Well, he's as good as it gets, I have to say. And it's hard work. It's challenging work; it's physically difficult. So, you really want people who can come in and participate in that process and maintain their equanimity and their good humor and their positivity during the course of that kind of work, when the challenges present themselves. And that's certainly who Ron is. I know that you're not able to really talk very much about what is coming up on the next episodes, but I wonder if you could talk a little bit about what we might expect from John. I don't know the last time John's really been in a community. They're essentially trapped. They're basically in a bunker that's just bigger and nicer right now.
Yeah, they're in a bunker that's bigger and nicer, but by the end of the episode, of course, they wind up in the tower with Strand. So, that's gonna be a new world. It's a world which John is not comfortable in and is very suspicious of, but he also understands that he has to survive. He's got to navigate his way in Strand's world and find his place in that world. It'll be interesting to watch how that unfolds in the in the course of the telling of the story.