SciFi Vision - Where Fiction and Reality Meet

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live - Cast Members Brandt, O’Quinn & Tate

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who LiveThe highly-anticipated next series in the universe, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, premieres tonight on AMC and AMC+. The series sees the return of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) in an epic love story of two characters who have been changed by the cruelties of the post-apocalyptic world, trying to find their way back to each other. The series also stars Lesley Ann-Brandt as Pearl Thorne, Craig Tate as Donald Okafor, and Terry O’Quinn as the mysterious General Beal that has been spoken about on the previous series.

Each of the characters Thorne, General Beal, and Okafor start the series at odds in different ways with Rick. “For me, for General Beal, the head of the CRM, anyone who comes in has potential to be helpful or unhelpful,” O’Quinn told SciFi Vision of his character “…So, I just have to keep an eye on him. I see that he has a lot of potential. I think he's very smart, thereby he could be a gift, or he could be a threat.” 

Brandt says that her character and Rick also start off on rough footing, as he has trouble accepting that where they are is their home now. “Rick is struggling,” the actress explained. “And I think because of her own personal struggles trying to get back to Cape Town and trying to get back to someone she loved, even though they butt heads, she kind of befriends him and feels like, ‘Let me help this guy climatize’ to this world, and they build a really great friendship. But I do think she recognizes something uniquely different about him compared to any of the other cosignees that they're with.” 

“Between Okafor and Rick…and even including Thorne as well, there is this orphan syndrome to where you don't want to accept a new home,” Tate continued, telling the site that everyone has a past they are trying to hold on to, and Rick is no exception. “Obviously, Okafor has different things in mind,” he added, “not only for himself, but the nature of the Republic. There are just just laws, formalities in place that Grimes can't go against, and Okafor is trying his best to let him know essentially that, [you] can't go anywhere.”

For more, read the full transcript below, and be sure to check out the series premiere, tonight on AMC and AMC+.

***edited for length and clarity***

SCIFI VISION:   
To start out for the, for all three of you, your characters, they may end up in a different place, but they all start out with quite a lot of tension between them and Rick, so can you sort of tease that dynamic and just sort of their relationship with him when we start off the beginning of the season, for all three of you. 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Well, I’ll start. For me, for General Beal, the head of the CRM, anyone who comes in has potential to be helpful or unhelpful…So I just, I have to keep an eye on him. I see that he has a lot of potential. I think he's very smart, thereby he could be a gift, or he could be a threat. That's pretty much where I'm coming from. 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
I think, for Thorne, coming in they start off on a rough sort of foot. And she recognizes while she's made a decision and understands that this is her world now, after he's committed to the CRM, that Rick is struggling. And I think because of her own personal struggles trying to get back to Cape Town and trying to get back to someone she loved, even though they butt heads, she kind of befriends him and feels like, “Let me help this guy climatize” to this world, and they build a really great friendship. But I do think she recognizes something uniquely different about him compared to any of the other cosignees that they're with. 

 [Crosstalk] 

CRAIG TATE:   
I mean, yeah…Between Okafor and Rick there was just kind of a - and even including Thorne as well, there is this orphan syndrome to where you don't want to accept a new home. Obviously, everyone has a past that they're trying to either run from or make a reconciliation with, and in Rick's case, he’s trying to hold on to his obligation to his affections and his loves and his dealings. And obviously, Okafor has different things in mind, not only for himself, but the nature of the Republic. There are just just laws, formalities in place that Grimes can't go against and Okafor is trying his best to let him know essentially that, brother you can't go anywhere. Yeah. 

QUESTION:   
It's actually a very different Walking Dead show that I've noticed some incredible depths and transformative ideas. What does it mean to each of you to be a part of this almost revolutionary Walking Dead series? 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
For me, having come from Lucifer with a big following and knowing what a show can mean to a viewer, it's still, like, at times, sort of realizing, “Oh, this is a much bigger universe,” and fans are so incredibly smart. I mean, I see them dissecting the trailers, and they're very, very good. So, I just think I'm, -  strangely at the time I had the meeting set up with Andy and Danai, I had COVID, and I just watched her in Black Panther, and then I think like, two days later, I was meeting with her, so it was really for me wonderful and incredibly special that both of them were such advocates of bringing my South African heritage into the show for the first time. It's an accent that you don't hear outside of South Africa. It's very specific to Cape Town, very specific to my community. So, I do credit both Danai and Andy for championing that. But it’s pretty special, and I think what I'm really excited for is for the fans who've been waiting so long for these two. It's finally here. It’s less than two weeks away. 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
In my case, I don't know what to expect. I was not a member of The Walking Dead universe, so it's all new to me. It's unknown territory. I mean, I'm familiar with being in something that was highly regarded and watched by a lot of people. These people may be more passionate. They may take it more personally, these - I want to say Deadheads, but I'm not sure that…But I think that's what I'm going to use from now on. But it's very exciting. It's good. You know, the production values are great. People are wonderful. So, I mean, it's just a new adventure. I'm very happy to be involved. 

CRAIG TATE:   
Yeah, Terry, I gotta use that one. I would say, for me, I mean, it was just when I was 21, 20 turning 21 and the first season had come out. It's a full circle moment to never forget where you were when [the] first season had dropped. And sometimes, late at night, you find yourself a part of that universe that you have become so heavily invested into. So, it's kind of been a champion of two things, one that there is some kind of weird irony coincidental nature of the universe and life in itself, and that, two, you know, if you work steady enough, methodically enough, to turn your dreams into goals, they do materialize. 

QUESTION:   
There's a Shane-like scene where Thorne can choose to take someone's life in her scope, and I was wondering what your thoughts on that were, the ease of that as an actress? 

[Crosstalk] 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
Well, for Thorne, I think coming from [a] navy, military type background, I think she's obviously seen - she's been in action. For me, getting into the skin of this character is made very easy by the costume, actually, particularly the costume. So, I found myself walking differently. Euonymus [Colette Hufkie] did such a wonderful job. I felt like we look like it was designed by like, Rick Owens or something that's like a fancy designer. It just looked very cool and badass. But stepping into the skin of Thorne was easy for me as an actress, I think, because I knew her. I knew what like made her tick. And the ease of being able to, I guess, take someone out, I think it's like a metaphor. We've had those moments in life where we've been at a crossroads and you either turn left or right, or you make a good decision, or you don't, and so that's perhaps what makes it easier for me to, I don't know, make the right decision at that moment, or not. [laughs] 

QUESTION:   
What impressed you when you first you read the page [and] got to know your characters a little bit? 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
I'll start. I didn't, as I said, I didn't really know the show. I talked to Scott [Gimple] extensively. So, he told me basically about this man, this General Beal, and I think I've decided that he's been at war pretty much his whole life, for better or worse…So, I think this guy is pretty straight and narrow minded in a way. He's, as I said, been a warrior his whole life, and that's what he knows. So, I think he's one of those guys that runs toward his own fire. I think he wants things to turn out a certain way. He's concerned, especially for his community and for the future of humankind, and he's gonna come up with its own way of dealing with that situation. But it was enlightening to talk with Scott in terms - I said, “I'm 10 years behind, so tell me about it. I'll give you 20 minutes.” [laughs] We had a conversation. He told me what I needed to know, and I have watched the first three episodes of The Ones Who Live, [and] I didn't feel lost at all. In just watching it, I feel fairly objectively that I could have been watching it in a theater or cinematic. So, that was my experience. 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
Firstly, I love that they didn't set it up as a love kind of triangle. Rick and her are not - that was a big thing for me, mainly because I didn't want the heat from the fans. [laughs] I also appreciated that they found a way to have, in a similar sort of Carol and Daryl, like a platonic friendship in the beginning, where maybe they butt heads, but there's genuine care for each other. And even if their paths veer in different ways - I mean, she's definitely looking out for him and committed to the idea that Okafor has presented to them about this new world and about what he feels needs to change within the CRM. So, I did love that. Obviously, I loved that she was South African and not like a wallflower type character, that she wasn't also just one note. There's real vulnerability that comes with her strength, that she chooses, or doesn't always show it. And I think that's maybe what makes her and Michonne kind of similar. I feel like they outside of this world, they probably would have been friends, you know, strong women who care madly and deeply about the ones that they love. 

QUESTION:  
We spoke about Rick Grimes the character, but what was it about Andy Lincoln, the actor, that maybe impressed all of you? 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
He's the one that I worked with, almost exclusively; I've worked with almost no one else. You know, we had a couple of scenes - Lesley-Ann was in a couple of those sort of large scenes, but they were very brief. So, I didn't get that the pleasure of working with her as much as I would have liked yet. But Andy was a - when I say “pro,” that's pretty much the nicest thing I say about people in general, somebody who shows up on time prepared, respectful, helpful, knows how a scene is supposed to work, how it’s supposed to pay off, who carries the load, and he knows all that stuff. And he's a gentleman to match. So, it was a real pleasure to work with Andy. 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
Andy impressed me right at the beginning, when I was up for two jobs, actually. I tried to make it work for both, and he then sent me an email through our agency and just wrote me just the most beautiful email about my tape and just meeting, and he was like, “Please do the show. We really, really felt like you got this character that can be a counterpart to Rick Grimes in the way that we need her to. You really do help tell this story.” And it was so gracious and one of those flattering things. You know, my favorite awards is the SAG Awards, because it comes from your fellow artist and actor who understands the process. So, that was very sweet. Yeah. 

CRAIG TATE:   
I mean, look, Andrew Lincoln, one is an incredible thespian and also an even more incredible human. I'll just never forget, there's always a shock value that one has when you're able to work with an individual of his caliber who you've just grown to love so much over a decade on screen. Then, you have this idea of him built up, and then you meet him in person, and he's just so perfectly human, but he's also so perfectly this empath and this giver and also just this hard worker. But he wants to share, and he has this way of disarming you naturally, because, once again, the shock is just there of you think he may be, and then you're just completely thrown off with who he is. But the two, you know, I guess, functioning ideas, they bounce off each other, you know, what you think versus who you meet, and then one, his work ethic on and off camera. What he does off camera shines as much as what he does on camera, and just his ability to connect, exchange, and also deliver. And he just curates on camera, just this environment where it's open to go as deep and as dark as possible, and just be as weird and as open as possible, for both individuals inside the scene, to capture that magic, to capture that moment of transcendence. So, in my opinion, [unintelligible] you see this unicorn, you know, respectfully so. 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
I think he's the reason a show can run for 12 years, you know, that it has to come from the top. And I loved how much he cared as well when I got there. Speaking to what both of them said, it's like, how prepared he was, how open he was to listening to your ideas, because all he did was want to make it better…How do we make it better? 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
Don't play any this for him. 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
I know. His head is going to get so big. 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
That’s a test of a man’s character how much of this can he take. 

QUESTION:   
Especially with Lesley and Terry, you guys know kind of not only shows with large fan bases, but also shows that have elements of supernatural aspects to them. But for all three of you, with a show like The Ones Who Live, it is also so grounded in kind of the human story that these people are going through with all of that set aside. Does that help you all as actors approach these situations that the characters find themselves in knowing that they are still grounded in a very human story overall? 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
I think any show that has any kind of supernatural or otherworldly element to it, the gift of those shows or films is that you get to tell human stories that aren't as confronting, if you were just to put it in a normal setting. You get to touch on themes and ideas. And I think even speaking to what Matthew Jeffers said yesterday, having a character who has dwarfism, there's not a big meal made about it. He's just a person who exists in the world, as it should be. But I do think the ultimate goal in these kinds of shows is just telling the truth. While the situation might be something we're not familiar with - I'm not typically stabbing people in the face [laughs] who are dead and coming towards you trying to eat your face or something. The friendship is universal; love is universal, betrayal and loyalty. Those are all universal themes. Survival is a universal theme. And this big idea of like…you're 12 years down the line, and yeah, the walkers have become something sort of in the background now. Now the focus is on the humans, and who is the biggest threat? It's ourselves, you know, it’s [General] Beal and his ideas. It's Terry, blame it all on Terry![laughs] 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
Yeah, I think as far as, you know, we're talking about accessibility of a character, I think the farther out situation is, it might be a little bit more of a challenge; you have to use a little bit more imagination just to get to that place. But someone said that just depends upon the written word and what they put on the page for you to say what comes out of your mouth and the situation they set up. And I think that, in my case, for my character, it's pretty tunnel vision. So, I had a lot fewer elements, I think, maybe, to consider than some of these guys did, but good writing is much easier to do than bad. 

CRAIG TATE:   
I’ll piggyback definitely off with Terry and Lesley on that one. I mean, one, here we are as humans in his universe, in his Walking Dead universe, created by a very human individual, Scott Gimple. So, human stories made by humans, so definitely, you're always gonna have those things you relate to that keep you grounded, whether it is connection, whether it's search of affection, whether it is running from qualms of the past or running towards this idea of how the future may be for you, to suit yourself, or future circumstance. So, I don't think it's too difficult. Like Terry just said, if the writing connects, then, us as a vessel, all we're doing is adding one more texture to the painting, which is the script itself. So, if the writing is good, as it is, in this case, then, you get the magic. You get the portrait. So, I don't think it was a difficult, no. Seamless. 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
I’ve used that similar analogy to what Craig uses. We don't get to draw the picture, but we get to add some tone to the colors, literally, on the painting, and that's, that's always a pleasure. That's what it's about. 

CRAIG TATE:   
Unless one day we’re play androids, right? [laughs] We'll figure that one out, until that day comes. 

QUESTION:   
…The big thing that fans always want to know about is behind the scenes pranks with Andrew Lincoln. Did he bring that prank energy that he did in the previous series onto the spin off? What sort of chaos did he bring to the set, and how did you guys get involved in that? Because I guarantee you that man brought a prank. 

LESLEY-ANN BRANDT:   
Not that I know of, I gotta say. Look, I think this shoot was so intense. We had six episodes; we had, like very limited time. The stakes were super high. I mean, we certainly had fun, him and I, because most of my work was with Andy, but I actually can't recall him pranking anyone. I think he was also actor and producer mode, so he was solving problems, putting out fires here, making suggestions there, helping Scott with script changes, and then trying to get some sleep somewhere in between and learn lines. And then doing it all again the next day. Maybe that's why. I don't know. 

TERRY O’QUINN:   
Yeah, I verify that. I was. I was not aware of that history. The time he and I worked together, that didn't happen. So, I didn't realize he had that kind of reputation. I'm sorry I missed it.

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