Interviews

August 21, 2015

Getting Our First Taste Of “Fear The Walking Dead”! Interview With Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd And Cast Members Mercedes Mason And Ruben Blades

We got our first taste of the upcoming Walking Dead companion series “Fear The Walking Dead” now that AMC has released the first three minutes of the premiere episode which is set to air this Sunday, 8/23 at 9pm ET/PT.

WORLDWIDE EXCLUSIVE: #FearBeginsHere this Sunday at 9/8c.

Posted by Fear the Walking Dead on Thursday, August 20, 2015

Set in the same universe as “The Walking Dead,” “Fear the Walking Dead” is a gritty drama that explores the onset of the undead apocalypse through the lens of a fractured family in Los Angeles. In a city where people come to escape, shield secrets, and bury their pasts, a mysterious outbreak threatens to disrupt what little stability high school guidance counselor Madison Clark (Kim Dickens) and English teacher Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) have managed to assemble.

We caught up with the cast and producers of “Fear The Walking Dead” during San Diego Comic Con 2015 to discuss the new series, which they all say will provide viewers with an all new experience and story that differs from “The Walking Dead”.  Below read our interview with executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and cast members Mercedes Mason and Ruben Blades.

On the differences between “Fear The Walking Dead” and “The Walking Dead”

GALE ANNE HURD: It starts much earlier. The time frame is essentially when Rick first went into the coma, although there is no connection to “The Walking Dead”. It is not a prequel or a spin-off, we are a companion side-by side. We deal with an extended family, a blended family and they are facing their own internal problems. To them and to any of us who would be facing them, that is what you need to be worrying about, all of us have, then this happens on top of that, so it ups the emotional stakes.

MERCEDES MASON: The Walkers in the original, they have been decaying for awhile, so they look like monsters, whereas for us it’s so new they still look like your neighbor. Like you just had coffee with Bob yesterday and now he’s trying to eat your face off! There is that sort of psychological aspect of you look human, can I bash your skull in? Especially since we don’t know the rules.

GAH: No one brought the guide-book, no had Morgan like Rick did to tell him what the rules are and how to survive. It’s just beginning to happen.

RUBEN BLADES: You also have a stronger Latino presence than the other show. It’s about time.

MM: That’s the cool thing about having it set in L.A., is that it’s very diverse. You have blended families and you can see from our four leads in the pilot they are all completely different. Cliff and the Madison character, it doesn’t have to do with race, it’s just nice that it’s a bunch of families dealing with what everybody deals with … families and family issues and survival in essence … Lord of the Flies stuff.

On the city of Los Angeles becoming a character itself in the series

GAH: Los Angeles is a place of immigrants, it’s a place of reinvention, it’s a place of rebirth, so you start with characters who are at different stages. You’ve got one character, Alicia, whose about to go off to college, so she has dreams and ambitions. You have a son who is dealing with addiction. You have a new family unit and you have exes and you have resentment from a son who feels that he’s been replaced by these new soon-to-be step-siblings. All of that is very much part of the fabric of L.A.

MM: The cool thing with L.A. is when we think of L.A. traditionally, you think of Hollywood and the glitz and the glamour, but our story is set in East L.A. so it’s very gritty and down-to-earth and it’s working class families, so you really feel, at least it felt to me when I read it, it felt very real. It didn’t feel glossy, which I loved.

GAH: It’s not East L.A. as we think about it from a lot of other TV shows or movies where it’s only gangs and that’s the go to place. We are resetting that to what life is really like if you are a family who lives there. It’s your daily experience that’s changing.

On the pacing of “Fear The Walking Dead”

RB: In the beginning you are going to have to establish the relationships between the different families and the tensions between the personal human perspectives cultures because this is important. Also, there is a clash around two different cultures that are imposed upon one another because of the circumstances. That’s what makes it all very interesting. Bottom line of this is you’re trying to figure out what would the world be like, how would we behave if all of a sudden everything went to hell. Like what Columbus did with indigenous groups here. Would we question the existence of God? Morals are out, authorities out, everything is redefining like in war. It’s happening right now in Syria, where you wake up to a different life in front of their face (than what they had previously). What do we do? What happens?

Here, you have a Latino family that’s not just facing what’s going around, but someone who has already gone through this in their place of origin, are now subjected to it again. They’re forced into another segment of the population that they’re not familiar with because they don’t know how these people are, they don’t necessarily like each other, but they’re helping each other.

MM: That’s where it brings back to the question of family. Is a family something you are born into, something that you pick or are forced into? How do you define that? You have to be able to rely on someone when authority figures, everything we’ve come to rely on like when something goes wrong, we call the cops that’s not the case anymore. Now you have to be self-reliant or you fumble.

 

RB: The pace has to be established. It’s not about killing zombies. It’s about what happened, and what are we going to do? What is acceptable? All of these existential questions are being discussed on the show. It’s entertainment, yes, it’s also an interiority that I found interesting. Nobody’s perfect, we all hide things, and maybe those things become visible that were not justified before and now you have to step up and do this. But can you?”

GAH: Who were these people before the apocalypse? In “The Walking Dead” we’ve had a few flashbacks to see who they were before, but mostly we meet everyone four to six weeks in, so we don’t get that opportunity to see normal, to see a world before and we get to do that here.

MM: We are in there with these characters as hope begins to fall apart. It’s fun to slowly gauge in and really understand what’s happening.

GAH: In “The Walking Dead” two of the central characters in the first season were police officers and they are the authority figures that you look to and we see how equipped and ill-equipped they are, but at the same time they carry guns and are used to firearms and used to taking charge. There are really no alpha characters in this, everyone is pretty much on a level playing field. Everyone finds that they do have skills that are necessary and sometimes those skills are both an advantage and a disadvantage.

MM: And secrets start getting revealed! As we go along, and obviously I can’t reveal too much, all of our characters, you start digging into our past and all of a sudden, there have been times where I read a specific episode and I emailed Ruben in a panic. Every episode as we go along, we start revealing the past of someone and how that defines their character and how it defines them in this new setting.

GAH: Great horror and great science fiction, if you haven’t seen “Night Of The Living Dead” go back and watch it!  That is a remarkable film for its’ time. The lead character was African-American and we sort of forget these things and if you go back and watch it, there was a lot of commentary on society. This show, because that’s what great horror and sci-fi does, also is able in this context to comment on some very serious issues facing our society. If you want to embrace that, great and if you want to just enjoy the ride you can too, but it operates on both levels.

RB: The series looks at a good many existential questions like whether or not it is okay to kill. Yes, it is entertainment, but it also has an interiority that I found interesting which is one of the reason’s I took the job. Nobody’s perfect and we all hide things.

On the professions of their characters in the show

RB: A barber

MM: Ofelia is coming out of school and is starting at the base level of getting into the working industry. She is very much trying to take care of her family and her parents and she is at the on-set of that.

GAH: That is the one thing we really haven’t seen with “The Walking Dead” is young adults. We’ve seen children and we’ve seen Carl grow, but we’ve never really dealt with teenagers and young adults, so that’s a totally new experience that we’ve never seen in “The Walking Dead”.

On anything they have been surprised to learn about themselves delving into these characters

MM: It definitely makes you question what would happen if I was put in this situation. You think of yourself as very tough, I mean Mercedes does, and I think I would be amazing at killing, but my first scene where I have to sort of be strong, I was crumbling and I was shaking and I was like ‘Great, guys, if there was a real apocalypse, I would be dead in 43 minutes’! That’s what I discovered about myself and now I have to go take karate lessons.

This post first appeared on PCM-TV.com/news



About the Author

Kristyn Clarke
I am a journalist and interviewer who is completely obsessed with music, TV, film and all other aspects of pop culture! I am currently the Director of Operations for PopCultureMadness.com and my work can also be found on MusicMayhemMagazine.com, TheRockRevival.com, and TryItToday.com! Have my B.S. in Television/Video Production from Wilmington University and have been working in online media for the past ten years and loving every moment of it!




 
 

 

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