Exclusive: Kim Dickens on her Return to Fear the Walking Dead & Playing a Darker Madison

***The following contains spoilers for 8.01.***

Kim DickensTonight, Fear the Walking Dead returned to AMC for its eighth and final season. The episode takes place after a seven-year time jump. When Madison (Kim Dickens) realizes Mo (Zoey Merchant) is still on the island under the control of PADRE, she makes it her mission to reunite her with Morgan (Lennie James), whether he agrees they should be together or not.

Earlier in the month, SciFi Vision spoke with Dickens about the finale season, including Madison’s reasons for her actions, if she will keep fighting, whether she can move on, what a reunion with Colman Domingo’s Strand might look like, and more.

SCIFI VISION:   What I want to ask you specifically about the premiere is that Madison and Morgan get into an argument about what to do about Mo. So, my question is, how much of that is her guilt over kidnapping her, and her knowing as a mother that he's going to regret it and that Mo needs her parents?

Kim DickensKIM DICKENS:  
Yeah, I mean, I think it's both of those things, Jamie. I think it's a phenomenal amount of guilt and shame that she has and her reawakening if you will, and a new fire lit under her is about making sure if there's one thing she can do, it's to reunite this father and daughter, because she knows.

That was my other question, with that fire, even though she knows her own children are dead, she's still going to keep fighting?

Well, yeah, I mean, look, we find Madison at her darkest place, and I've never played her [that] way at this place. I've never seen Madison at this place. I've never played her at this place. It's pretty low, and it's pretty dark, and the one little piece of light that keeps her going is when she realizes that Mo is still there, and she's not with her father. I think that becomes a motivating factor that keeps Madison going until she can at least get them back together. It's a single objective at that point.

Now I know obviously you can't say anything about what happens, but if everything went perfectly, and she rescued all the children, and everybody was happy at the end, is there a place for her in the community with everybody? Can she go back to that, and can she forgive herself for all the things she's done?

Well, that's the journey we explore pretty much all season, is if you're able to put yourself back together, if you're able to realign your path so that you are worthy of the community and are of benefit to the community. I think that's what part of the self-exploration is, part of the journey of putting oneself back together from the darkest place, from bad decisions. That's part of our journey that we explore.

When you first left the show, did you know that they were going to bring you back? Was there any inkling, or were you surprised when they phoned you up and said they wanted you back? How did that conversation go?

No, I had no idea. I was informed that I would be killed off and was shocked by that and dismayed. I had to sort of put my head down and do the work and finish that fourth season and do the work and move on. I moved on, and I had to let go of it. I'd let go of a big family. Obviously, Ian [Goldberg] and Andrew [Chambliss] came over and took over; there was a switch of guards obviously at AMC for our show, and that was their vision, and I had to let go of something that was my family, something I love, something I helped build. And I did; I moved on. I did several things, other shows and films, and that's what you do as an actor; you do. You just keep showing up, and off to the next family. It was sort of early in the first year of the pandemic when Coleman [Domingo] said, he texted me, he's like, “You need to call me, because, listen,” and I think he was their liaison. Like, they asked him what kind of temperature gauge he could get on me, as far as like, would I be willing to have have a conversation with them. And I said, “Yeah, they can talk to me.” I had no idea what it would be about. So, I never knew when I was let go, and I was completely shocked when they came back around. I was even even surprised that they presented something that I would want to do to come back.

Yeah, I was going to say, I think we all kind of hoped she’d come back, because they never showed her body, but we never knew for sure.

Yeah, sure.

So, speaking of Coleman, I’d assume and hope that at some point they're going to come into contact with each other. I know you can’t tell me if they do or not, but from your own opinion and imagination, from what we know about Madison now, if she were to run into him tomorrow, he's done a lot of bad things to Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey). Could she forgive that?

Madison and Strand definitely had a deep understanding for each other, and I think, ultimately, a love for each other, and that love came from really seeing themselves in each other…but they definitely can push each other's buttons, but it's a deep love relationship. However, if Madison were to find out in any way her daughter was jeopardized by him, that wouldn’t be pretty.

Kim DickensI know a lot of times you get more as a performer than we get to see as an audience. Is there anything that you either were given or that you made up in your own mind about Madison’s backstory to be able play her, some little tidbit people don't know about?

Oh, gosh. I can't really think of anything right now.

That's okay.

You know, some of the things were my ideas; like the tattoos were my ideas. Those were sort of visions that came to me even when I wasn't on the show, in the the time when I was off. So, I had some sort of visions that I shared with the guys, and they were able to sort of incorporate them and weave them into the story, and that was a fun, collaborative feeling. I don't know, just looking at some of the footage through the years, I'm just kind of amazed at how different the character is from day one to the last day. I just sort of jumped in. I [didn’t] know where it was going to go. I didn't have a plan that that's what I was going to travel, but we just did it. It was all just a creative journey.

Without spoiling anything, what can you tease of what people should look forward to this season?

Well, I think there are going to be some surprising duos, if that's the way to say it. I mean, I think what I'll say about this season is, we were allowed to sort of end it. We knew we were going to end the show. I'm certainly not a writer, but we as cast members, we all kind of came together, and the writers wrote these beautiful arcs, and the actors, because we've been with these characters for so long, were able to say, “hey, don't forget this” and “what about this” and “let's honor this.” So, we all got to kind of advocate for our characters, and in the truest way possible, given that this was going to be the ending of the series. You know, how do characters reconcile things? How do they find forgiveness? How do they find themselves? How do they let go? So, there's going to be some beautiful story that involves those themes.

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