Tomorrow, the first of the final eight episodes of the hugely popular The Walking Dead
premieres on AMC. While the main group of survivors deal with Hornsby and his men, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) heads to the Commonwealth to stop him from going after their families next. Meanwhile, members of the Commonwealth demand justice for what Pamila Milton (Laila Robins)'s son, Sebastian (Teo Rapp Olssen), has done.
Recently, in preparation for the episode, the press spoke with members of the cast about the final episodes and their thoughts about the end of the series.
SciFi Vision spoke with some of the actors about what their characters have taught them about themselves after spending so much time with them. For Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron, it’s the way his character continues to treat people. “I think, for me, [it’s] the diplomacy that Aaron has shown from beginning to end,” the actor told SciFi Vision. “I always asked Angela [Kang], our showrunner, ‘When is this guy going to go darker? When is he going to have that edge to him?’ because I couldn't understand why someone would be so nice in the midst of being beaten up by Rick (Andrew Lincoln), first of all, and then the Saviors and the Heapsters and all the groups he interacts with. They're not kind to him, and he just keeps choosing diplomacy. I think if I could choose one thing that has really helped me in my life, it's that diplomacy. I think it's really important, especially nowadays, with everything going on in the world.”
For Josh Hamilton, who plays villain Lance Hornsby, it’s his character’s perseverance. “I would say that I feel like I was inspired by Lance's unwillingness to be defeated or to give up,” said the actor. “I'm someone who personally gets very overwhelmed by very basic everyday things sometimes, and I just feel like I can't handle it. So, I guess I learned that I was inspired by Lance in a way to try to think a step or two ahead and not get overwhelmed when things don't go his way.”
It’s Father Gabriel’s courage that speaks to Seth Gilliam. “I think, for me, I think I've learned to be a little more courageous with the courage of my convictions in the way that Father Gabriel, once he steps into his full self, seems to be to me,” said the actor.
During the interview, the actors also talked a bit about how they felt the last day of filming. For Marquand it was mixed. “It was this great sense of relief and release,” recalled Marquand, “and then it was this sensation of, ‘Oh shit. It's really over,’ you know, eight years of my life…I mean, anybody who's worked on the show for any amount of time knows; it's a great show, but it's also a lot of work. So, it was this immediate release, and then It's kind of a feeling of loss, that it's all over.”
Hamilton, who joined the cast only in season eleven, is grateful to be a part of it. “I think, for me personally, I just felt mostly a sense of gratitude for having gotten to sort of get in under the wire in this incredible journey, [to] be part of it,” said the actor.
The series may be coming to an end, but the actors admitted that they haven’t really had time to process it yet. “I guess that hasn't really sunk in yet,” said Marquand who thinks that it won’t until the finale airs. “I think we were in such a mad dash to finish the show…that I think we didn't relish the conclusion as much as I wish we had. Now, I think, looking back, we'll have time to reminisce and think about where our characters have all gone, but I think each of us…has gone through so much.” Marquand also said that it will be interesting once they are “far enough removed from the show” to rewatch it from the beginning.
“Yeah, I haven't reflected much at all,” said Gilliam, saying that he also needed time and distance.
For more, read the full transcript below, and tune into the final episodes of The Walking Dead
, starting tomorrow on AMC, or stream the first episode now on AMC+. QUESTION:
Where would you say Lance Hornsby ranks amongst the show's villains? How would you compare him to someone like Negan or Alpha? ROSS MARQUAND:
I think Hornsby is as scary as hell, because you know he's [got] kind of like a used car salesman vibe, and you immediately don't trust him, but you're willing to give him a shot. And I think the death that Hornsby offers is a death by one thousand stabs; it's much more calculated. He's a very, very shifty character. I feel like the villains in the past have been very much on the surface, what you see is what you get, but with Hornsby, you really don't know. He can be hurting you in ways that you can't even imagine until it's too late. SETH GILLIAM:
Yeah, I think he's a pretty insidious character. He’s kind of like a bit of a disease; you don't know you have it. You're not feeling so great, and you find that it's spreading, and it's spreading and overtaking you, and then it kills you from the inside out. I think that's kind of the way that Hornsby works. He works from the inside out, and I think that makes him one of the most dangerous villains that we've had the pleasure to have known. JOSH HAMILTON:
…I don't think Hornsby feels that way about himself. I think he thinks he's just doing the best he can and has only good intentions, but I think he’s a symptom. He's very ambitious [and] is trying to make a go of it in a capitalist society. Unfortunately, it’s not going to work out for everyone, but I think he feels very strongly and does not think he's a bad guy at all. I think he really is trying to just create the best life for everyone that he can. QUESTION:
Have you had time to reflect on the journey of your characters, no matter how long, from when you first met him on the page to where you are now? ROSS MARQUAND:
I guess that hasn't really sunk in yet. I think we were in such a mad dash to finish the show, because it was a fifteen month shoot schedule, or fourteen months, and then it went over by a month because of COVID delays and a number of things. We were in such a mad dash to finish that I think we didn't relish the conclusion as much as I wish we had. Now, I think, looking back, I mean, we'll have time to reminisce and think about where our characters have all gone, but I think each of us, especially Seth's character, I mean, Father Gabriel has gone through so much. He's changed so vastly from where we see him in season five to where he is now. I think it'll be interesting one day, once we were far enough removed from the show, to rewatch it, you know, just watch it from beginning to end. I think that'd be really fun to do. JOSH HAMILTON:
I'm free. SETH GILLIAM:
Yeah, I haven't reflected much at all. I think I need some time and space and distance, to where I don't slide into a depression. SCIFI VISION:
…Can you talk about what your character has taught you about yourself? ROSS MARQUAND:
You got something Josh? JOSH HAMILTON:
No, I'm just thinking. That’s a good question. ROSS MARQUAND:
I think, for me, the diplomacy that Aaron has shown from beginning to end. I always asked Angela, our showrunner, “When is this guy going to go darker? When is he going to have that edge to him?” because I couldn't understand why someone would be so nice in the midst of being beaten up by Rick, first of all, and then the Saviors and the Heapsters and all the groups he interacts with. They're not kind to him, and he just keeps choosing diplomacy. I think if I could choose one thing that has really helped me in my life, it's that diplomacy. I think it's really important, especially nowadays, with everything going on in the world. JOSH HAMILTON:
I would say that I feel like I was inspired by Lance's unwillingness to be defeated or to give up. I'm someone who personally gets very overwhelmed by very basic everyday things sometimes, and I just feel like I can't handle it. So, I guess I learned that I was inspired by Lance in a way to try to think a step or two ahead and not get overwhelmed by when things don't go his way. SETH GILLIAM:
I think, for me, I think I've learned to be a little more courageous with the courage of my convictions in the way that Father Gabriel, once he steps into his full self, seems to be to me.
Josh, how did you prepare for the stunt work that we saw at the start of 11.17? JOSH HAMILTON:
Well, I can't say prepared too much, but I have to say that it was really enjoyable. I haven't been called upon to do too many stunts in my career, and it was really fun to get to try to be more of an action guy. I think I remember Greg Nicotero saying, “Okay, we really want to make you a little more badass in this.” I was like, “Oh, okay, great.” I was up for the challenge. And actually, they always have a stunt guy there if you want it, but I was one of those actors who's like, “No, no, no, I got it. I got it.” Then, of course, after a few takes, you're like, “Oh, why did I say yes?” I mean, I didn't have to do much compared to what people on the show do, have been doing for years, but it was more than I've personally gotten to do. So, I really appreciated the chance to throw myself around a little bit. QUESTION:
… Where were you, and where was your mindset twenty-four hours after you had wrapped? ROSS MARQUAND:
I remember when Jeff January, who was our first AD, he called the final moment. He literally said, “Ladies and gentlemen, that's a wrap on The Walking Dead
,” and these confetti cannons shot out from behind us. It was just kind of a surreal moment where we're all drenched in fake blood and sweating like crazy. It's 2:30 in the morning, and all this confetti is raining down all over us. It was a really weird moment, just because it was so out of character for The Walking Dead
. It was this great, like sense of relief and release, and then it was this sensation of, “Oh shit. It's really over,” you know, eight years of my life, same with Seth. I’ve known Josh about a year and a half. I mean, anybody who's worked on the show for any amount of time knows; it's a great show, but it's also a lot of work. So, it was this immediate release, and then it was kind of a feeling of loss, that it's all over. So, I don't think it's fully sunk in for me either. I think it'll really sink in once that finale airs, and we're all together and watching it. That's when it's going to really hit me, I think. SETH GILLIAM:
Twenty-four hours after I rapped on the show, I was probably in a karaoke bar, singing the blues JOSH HAMILTON:
There's always the dark night of the soul when something ends. It's like all of your reasons for getting out of bed and getting dressed sort of go out the window for a little bit, whether it's a year or eight years. But, I think, for me personally, I just felt mostly a sense of gratitude for having gotten to sort of get in under the wire in this incredible journey [and] be part of it. QUESTION:
This is a question for Ross and Seth. How do you think the absence of Rick has impacted your characters? SETH GILLIAM:
Father Gabriel got more to say. ROSS MARQUAND:
Yeah, I mean, I think on one hand, of course, whenever you have someone like, to Seth’s point, there's more time for other people, the more characters to be developed. But also, Andy was such a fantastic leader. I mean, he really led this show so beautifully, and I know that I think I speak for everybody who worked on the show, he's the best number one I've ever worked with. We missed him like crazy once he left, and it was it was definitely a noticeable absence once he left the show. QUESTION:
For each of you, your characters at the start of this particular segment, what is driving each of you and motivating each of you to literally get out of bed and do the work?…What drives them this part of the season to keep going? JOSH HAMILTON:
Oh, well, Lance wants more responsibility. I think he wants to lead. I think he feels like he's spent most of his life behind the scenes and making things work. I think he feels like he knows how the Commonwealth runs better than most people, kind of keeps it running. I think he's ready to step out from behind the Miltons and show what he can really do. I think his reason is, I think he really believes that he'd be a good leader for the Commonwealth. I mean, for the communities to be under the umbrella of the Commonwealth. Yeah, ambition is a very strong motivator to get out of bed in the morning, and also just to show everyone how how good his clothes look.
I think Aaron's just motivated by wanting to protect his daughter and the future generations of Alexandria, Hilltop, any community that he trusts and knows. So, I think sustainability and preservation of the safety of these communities is the chief goal, the reason why he gets out of bed every morning SETH GILLIAM:
For Father Gabriel, it's the never-ending search for chocolate, pretty much. I mean, they've got like cotton candy at the Commonwealth, but there's no chocolate, so that kind of gets him out of bed every day, what he's got to go through to get some fucking chocolate.