Interview: Khary Payton, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, and Eleanor Matsuura Talks Working With Michael James Shaw

Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko, Michael James Shaw as Mercer – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Fans of The Walking Dead are going to be in for a treat tonight when the season 11 premiere airs.

The highest ranking security guard, Mercer will make his long awaited debut on tonight’s episode. Earlier this year, It was announced that Michael James Shaw will play as Mercer. In issue #177 of The Walking Dead, Mercer was introduced for the first time. Additionally, he appears on the cover of that issue.

There is more to Michael James Shaw than playing the character. On this exclusive that happened during the virtual press junket, I asked Eleanor Matsuura, Melissa McBride, Khary Payton, and Josh McDermitt what was it like to work with him. The cast dished out some details about their experience working with Michael James Shaw.

Eleanor: “He’s a Big Guy. I know Mercer is from the comics and all, but if there was anyone that could be an incarnation of him, that’s Michael. He’s built and he could hit me out with one hand and throw me around. And then you work with him, he is the sweetest, softest, funniest, and nervous kind of guy. He is the opposite of what you expect him to be. And then when he is Mercer, it is like “woah, he is so cool.” I love it when you work with people who are different from their character.”

Melissa: “Someone else that is like that is Cassidy McClincy. When she is on the set, she is in the mood of raw and full of emotion. Then when the director yells ‘cut’, she falls apart laughing. She is pure fun and joy when I worked with her. Cassidy and Michael are obviously different, but I can see the comparison between them when they are in character and not in character. Michael is a sweetheart and that tall man brings a unique aura to the show.”

Khary: “Those are really great examples! I do not recognize Cassidy sometimes when we are on set. When she plays Lydia, her smile goes away. I remember looking at her and not recognizing her for a minute because I’m just not used to seeing that bubbly version of herself. Michael is the same way. You come upon this huge bear of a man as you slowly get to know him. Its like when you come up to him and you think you should be on your guard or he might throw all kinds of testosterone on you. By the end of the day, you wonder how I can get this big bear of a man into my arms because I want to hold him like a baby! But he is just too big.”

Melissa: “I would like to see you hold him like a baby Khary!”

Khary: “I know!”

Eleanor: “There’s four of us that need to try to hug him!”

Josh: “We did scenes with him and his size and intimidation as the Mercer character really suits him. The thing that struck me with him Julian, is his performance. This is a guy we just spent the last few minutes talking about his size and he can certainly do his performance that way. When I was acting across from him, he had this intensity in him when he speaks and when he changes his facial expressions. Then when it was time to cut, it was the slightest change to the softness and I appreciate that. He is a tremendous actor and a wonderful human being. I am sad that this is our final season and that we didn’t get to have more seasons with him!”

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Interview: Christine Evangelista Talks The Season 6 Finale of Fear The Walking Dead

Christine Evangelista as Sherry – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Dwight and Sherry’s reunion on Fear The Walking Dead has not been all roses and flowers the entire time. There was past trauma that Sherry shared with Dwight on what she went through with Negan. But by the end of the season, it seems like Sherry and Dwight are back together for good.

Christine Evangelista breaks down everything that happened between Sherry and Dwight on the season six finale of Fear The Walking Dead in this exclusive interview along with what she would like to see on the seventh season.

How did you and Austin Amelio prepare for the warhead landing scene?

CE: “The scene where they’re coming out of the house and the scene right after they shoot the guy and head back into the basement when the bomb going off was really intense. The tunnel that they go into the bunker was built on a soundstage. So they built this bunker that we dove into. And the entire thing is built on these mechanics that vibrate and move and all the shelves are knocking down and dust going everywhere. And it was a really intense scene to shoot. Because of that, you don’t know what is going to fall on top of you. So how do you prepare for an atomic bomb going off? I don’t know. But you just do. And it was legitimately scary because we’re in this device that was moving and vibrating and things were flying all over the place.”

Do you know if everyone shot their explosion scenes the same day as you and Amelio did, or were they all different days?

CE: “They were all set on different days because everyone was in different locations.”

Based on your experience being a featured character on The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead, were there any differences between acting on both shows?

CE: “Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead are so similar in so many ways. And the point of obviously a lot of the cast is the same. We have Lenny, we have Austin and myself. But we also have a lot of our writers and executive producers and directors go back and forth. So I’ve been able to work with the same people on both shows. What’s been exciting about Fear The Walking Dead, especially this season, which is really unique to both shows, is that we’ve been able to shoot it in this anthology style. Which means that each episode is more character driven or you’re not having so many different characters in one episode and they’re just following one story the whole time. So you’ll see a day in the life of Sherry and Dwight. And for an actor, it’s really fulfilling because every episode has like an arc to it, like a real beginning, middle and end. And it’s been really great to go into Fear The Walking Dead while it’s doing this anthology style format and be able to really tell the story of what happened to Sherry. We don’t really know what happened. We don’t know how she’s different or what’s been going on the past few years. I mean, the last time we saw Sherry was years ago. So it’s been really cool to now pick this all up and be able to do the story justice, really tell it in a full way. So that’s been really exciting and like such a unique opportunity.”

As a viewer, are you relieved to see Sherry not go after Negan anymore when she realized that it is not worth doing so?

CE: “I think Sherry’s relieved, but I’m relieved also. I think even just as a viewer, I love that these characters are able to be together again and also that Sherry is able to, in some way move on from it and to get her power back and to not just chase the wrong God, as I say all the time. She’s just able to move on, be with her partner and maybe use all this experience that she had to help other people. And I think that’s really exciting. But it’s definitely a relief for everyone now.”

Now that the warhead has dropped and obliterated the entire area, I would like to see a situation like the video game Fallout where everyone is going to have to think of ways to gather resources in a nuclear environment while also protecting themselves. Is this something you would like to see for the seventh season?

CE: “Yeah, I think it’s so interesting. I remember when they told me that there was going to be a massive bomb that was going to go off and radiation was going to take over life as they know it. And I couldn’t even believe it because it’s going to change the dynamics of everything. You know, if you think about it, resources right now aren’t really available. After radiation and the bomb goes off, it’s going to be even less. And I think you could really bring out the worst in people. It’s a really scary situation. A lot of people died in the finale episode. And I think that mixed with life changing as they know it, is going to be really complicated and it’s going to make people choose a different path in life. And it doesn’t always bring out the best in people. So I think it’s going to be a very intense season because of that, It’s not just even about the walkers anymore and it’s not even just about the people that they know. It’s now you have this added element of this bomb destroying everything in sight. And I mean everything from like food to water, just think about how difficult things are going to be for them.”

Austin Amelio as Dwight, Christine Evangelista as Sherry – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Who did you like working with the most during this season?

CE: “Austin’s always amazing, and I was so excited to work with him again. He is just fantastic. We started this whole journey together. So it’s really cool. And it was almost like neither of us ever left. We just got back to working together. And we’re just good friends. I really love Jenna Elfman. I was always such a fan of her from Dharma and Greg. And to see her in this role of June, which is entirely different. That show was really cool. And she’s so committed to the character and she’s such a fantastic actress. And I just really love hanging out with her and like shooting the show. Everyone’s amazing, really. Everyone’s great. Mo Collins is great. She’s so funny. And she brings such a levity to the performance, which is really great to watch in a show that’s really difficult and challenging and dark in a lot of ways. I mean, everyone is so talented, but it’s cool that there’s so many great female characters on the show too.

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Interview: Aisha Tyler Talks Directing Fear The Walking Dead’s “J.D” Episode

SANTA MONICA, CA – FEBRUARY 25: Actress Aisha Tyler attends the 2016 Oscar Wilde Awards at Bad Robot on February 25, 2016 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)

Aisha Tyler has done practically everything in Hollywood: acting, voiceover work, hosting, directing, writing, and producing. She has been in the industry for over 25 years with several projects in her name. Aisha Tyler is also a fan of The Walking Dead and she as also appeared on AMC’s Talking Dead.

Last November, it was announced that Aisha Tyler will direct an episode of Fear The Walking Dead. It turned out that she directed the episode “J.D” and Aisha Tyler is here to break down directing this monumental episode in this exclusive interview.

You’ve been a fan of The Walking Dead for some time now, and this is now your first episode in the franchise that you directed. How excited were you when you first got the news?

Aisha: “Incredibly excited. I wish I could come up with some phrase that’s like spectacularly descriptive, but I was thrilled because it had been something I’ve been hoping to do for a long time. And I had had some meetings with AMC where we talked about the fact that I love the franchise. I would love the opportunity to direct, but I don’t know that I thought it was going to happen. So you’re kind of always just doing your work. I was off directing other stuff. And it was just a thrill when it came back around.”

Do you remember exactly where you were or what you were doing when you got the call that AMC wanted you to direct the episode?

Aisha: “That’s a really good question. I don’t. It’s all just blended into a beautiful golden memory. I do remember that I did a zoom call with the show runners Ian and Andrew, and that was great. We just hit it off. And a friend of mine and I were texting and I got the email from my management team and I was like, “I got the job!” I do remember that. I just remember that I was very excited.”

Knowing that Fear The Walking Dead was filmed during the pandemic, what were some challenges you had to endure as a director?

Aisha: “Well, the biggest issue right now for covid productions other than testing is a shorter shoot day. And so that’s just challenging. You just have less time to do the same amount of work. And that remains the challenge across this episode. But luckily, because the episode was essentially set over a single day, we could only shoot from sunup to sundown. And that natural kind of time limit meant that we had to work really effectively and efficiently, which we did. So it was exhilarating. You’re always rushing when you’re directing. Every day is just a sprint. But it was beautiful and enjoyable and we were able to get done.”

This episode is a tribute to John Dorie Jr. I thought that the eulogy scene was beautiful from the way it was shot and with the way Jenna Elfman delivered her lines. What are the conversations like between you and Jenna when it came to crafting that scene?

Aisha: “We had a really good conversation before we started shooting the episode about how she felt about it as an actor and what was her character was going through. And, you know, this was really June’s first real moment where she allowed herself to mourn John. She just been on this kind of mad sprint to redeem herself and really driven by grief and by anger at the world about herself. And this was her opportunity to say goodbye. So we really wanted to make sure that we honored that moment for her because it was a really transformational one for June. And I think also on a larger level with Dwight and Sherry. John and June’s relationship represented something really specific in their world, which is that it’s possible to find beauty and it’s possible to find love in a terrible state of affairs in the world around them. And so I really wanted to make sure that there was a lot of beauty in that scene and a lot of love and that it wasn’t just sad because it was all of our opportunities to both say goodbye to a character that we all really love and also to celebrate the beauty of that relationship.”

Jenna Elfman as June, Christine Evangelista as Sherry, Austin Amelio as Dwight – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Were there any scenes that you directed for this episode that you felt like you wanted to put yourself in any of the character’s shoes, whether it was June, Dwight, Sherry or John Sr?

Aisha: “Not really. When you’re directing, you get to be in everybody’s shoes all the time. That’s really the nature of being a director. You’re kind of inside all of it all the time. And that’s why I love directing because I really get to care for everybody on set and think about every every character and their experience and their journey. And I get to put my feet in the shoes of the fifth character, which is the audience. And I really get to be a part of things and thinking about how the audience will experience this episode and how they’ll connect with the characters. So that’s the coolest thing about being a director, is you get to play all the roles.”

Are there any past episodes of either The Walking Dead or Fear The Walking Dead that you wish you had the chance to direct?

Aisha: “Well, my favorite episode of The Walking Dead and there are a lot of really good ones, is ‘Clear.’ It’s the episode where we find Morgan again. And I love that episode of television as one of my favorite episodes of television period because it’s so incredibly layered and emotional and it really focuses on what grief and loss do to a person. And Lenny James is just such an extraordinary actor. And I just remember crying through the whole episode because it was just so beautiful and so painful and it was so tender. And seeing Rick and Morgan together again was so wonderful. But it wasn’t the reunion we all expected them to have as fans. And just to see the shell around Morgan kind of crack a little bit of him, connect with human beings again after all that time suffering alone was just such a beautiful episode.”

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Interview: Karen David Talks The Big Plot Twist and Working With Lennie James

Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 12 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

This weeks’ episode of Fear The Walking Dead titled “In Dreams” is a devastating and also a heartbreaking one. Grace and Morgan finding out that her baby is stillborn will go down as one of the darkest moments in the franchise. Here to talk about that shocking moment, is Karen David as we go over all the details about that moment in this exclusive interview.

How did you prepare for that twist at the end of the episode?

KD: “I knew about these storylines when Ian and Andrew sat me down pre pandemic, so I had this extended period of time to to prepare for this, which in hindsight I’m really grateful for, because it’s a very devastating storyline. It’s a very sensitive subject. And I needed to really even let that sit with me. I took a lot of deep breaths when I was reading the script and then had many meetings with Michael Satrazemis. He is one of our most wonderful magical directors on the show with Jalaludin, who is a magnificent director of photography. Ian and Andre, who penned this, just found that that perfect balance in telling this this story. We kind of all came together and sat down and we went through the whole the whole thing and what to expect. I was so excited because esthetically and stylistically, this is an episode that we’ve never really done in our universe. With the subject to of infancy loss, it’s something that has never been talked about. And then from there, you also have like those little easter eggs in the unconscious state where you see the bird poop walker, my truck, and Grace in her suit paying homage to her journey, which began in season five. I just loved all of that coming into play in Grace’s unconscious state. I was really excited that we were doing something very groundbreaking and very different. And I could not be more proud of the end results. And to see the initial feedback of you guys, you know, having watched the advance screenings and all that, it just it means the world to all of us. We knew that this is going to be a very big episode for the universe, but also a very big episode for Grace and I. It’s been a real honor to tell her story.”

After I watched “In Dreams”, I had to take a few minutes to process what I witnessed. At that time, I thought of that particular episode of Chernobyl where a pregnant woman lost her baby due to her baby absorbing all of the radiation from the character. Did the comparison of the real life incident and that episode came through your mind when you were going through the script of the episode?

KD: “I know each case is very different and I’m not a medical expert where I can speak on those things. But I certainly watched all of Chernobyl. I did a lot of research on Hiroshima and Chernobyl and what had happened and the stories of what different people had been through. And I tried to take as much of that. And, you know, Mikey, I, Ian, and Andrew had many discussions about this and how that played into Grace’s experience in this apocalyptic world. One thing that remains true is having personal experience with this with my family members and dearest friends who have suffered through infancy loss and doing so much research, listening to many videos of families who were so courageous to talk about their experience. For me, it was so important to tell their story through Grace as well, and to honor and respect what they have been through, through Grace. It was a fine balance to achieve. And as an actor, this storyline was with something that is a gift to be challenged in a way both emotionally, spiritually and physically, and to talk about a subject that’s so important and so sensitive. I can only hope and pray that I was able to do that respectfully and and with justice to the storyline. So to hear all the feedback has just been so wonderfully overwhelming and just means so much to to both Grace and I.”

As you said, the structure of this episode has never been done before and you and Lennie James did an amazing job telling this story. Do you have any stories on how you and Lennie work on this way of storytelling?

KD: “Michael and the rest of us kind of sat together mapped everything out and they showed these wonderful vision boards and storyboards of what they wanted to achieve in the unconscious state for Grace, but also in, you know, the conscious state. There is no break for me or Grace in this episode. And it was very much trying to navigate very delicately through each scene. I couldn’t have been in better hands and in safer hands, with or without crew and with Michael and the gang and certainly with Lenny, who is the best scene partner I could have ever dreamed of that last scene. We didn’t want to over rehearse it. That was one all done in one take. We didn’t want to see the baby, the prosthetic baby, which special effects did a phenomenal job. We kind of just read the lines for the sake of reading them. So we kind of knew where things were at, but we didn’t want to rehearse it. It was just going to do it. It’s just one of those deeply emotional scenes that you can’t really rehearse as it’s going to happen in the moment. And I knew that I was in safe hands with Lenny and with Michael and the crew. There was this bonding moment and we’re a tight knit family. But in that moment, if I can explain and do it justice, I never felt more supported and loved by every crew member and our cameraman, Ramon and Chris. They were right there where I didn’t have to worry about anything. I could just allow myself to go through this moment with Lenny and with Michael. When Lenny placed the prosthetic baby in my hands for the first time in that moment, my tears were for my family members. I cried for my not only my family, but my dearest friends and all those families whose videos I watched for what they had been through. I can’t even call it acting in that moment. It felt so real. And the minute he placed the baby in my hands, I was just broken. It broke me. And one take was all we needed. It was quite devastating. I was just relieved that we got through it. And it was a beautiful and even though devastating moment, but a beautiful moment for Lenny, Michael and our crew to have endured together, which is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life. In my heart, I just felt so supported in that moment. And I’m just really grateful. And it turned out just the way that it should have.”

Karen David as Grace – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 12 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Do you know what was the significance of the pink leaves were during the dream sequence?

KD: “I know that Michael wanted to create this very ethereal world where it was sort of a break for grace from reality. As we all know what was happening later on the episode and what was happening in real life, she’s in this world where she could have this opportunity to delve into the future, where she could see her future and what her daughter was like, and to know that everything was going to be OK because she’s so convinced that this is her time. From the minute that Grace is introduced into this universe, we know that her clock is ticking and she’s convinced that this is it for her.Time is to be called on death’s doors and she has this moment now to to say goodbye to the people that she loves and to also find some peace, knowing that everyone and everything would be OK. It reminded me a lot of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind which is one of my favorite films. And, you know, just being in this world where clarity happens for her. Clarity, gratitude, remorse, like all the feels that she kind of navigates and goes through in this unconscious world, is something so powerful and and so exciting for me as an actor to have been able to to delve into for Grace.”

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Interview: Hal Cumpston Reflects on The Development of Silas

Hal Cumpston as Silas – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

Silas’ journey so far on The Walking Dead World Beyond is sad. Knowing that his father was abusive towards him and his mother really tramutized him. Anyone that suffers from that dark past, I would have sympathy for and I do for Silas. On this exclusive quick interview, Hal Cumpston breaks down the development of Silas on the most recent episode of The Walking Dead World Beyond.

How did you mentally prepare for your flashback scenes before the cameras started rolling?

Hal: I was very excited and ready to go for this episode for a while so there wasn’t too much trouble trying to get into character.

There is one thing that your character and Felix has in common and that is, that their fathers were not great role models to them when they were teenagers and young adults. Have you and Nico Tortorella talked about that behind the scenes?

Hal: We filmed such a long time ago I can’t remember discussing it exactly. We spent 6 months with each other so there isn’t really a topic we didn’t delve into. 

How intense was it for Silas to know that the first walker that he killed, is his father? And will we find out if his mom forgave him?

Hal: Silas is still intensely haunted by his past in particular having to kill his father twice. And I cannot answer the second question for now.

The first season is going to conclude soon. What are your favorite memories being part of World Beyond’s first season?

Hal: My mind is a bit hazy about particular memories from set but it was definitely a lot of fun. I’d say the overall experience that I get to be so lucky to do this as a job is definitely what sticks with me the most. But to give a funny memory there was a hilarious shocker where a cake was arranged for Annet’s “Birthday” yet low and behold it wasn’t her birthday. Another time that was funny was a day on episode 3 where I couldn’t make eye contact with Nicolas Cantu in an emotion scene because Nick, Nico and I had the giggles.

How challenging was it for you at first when you were first introduced into this universe of The Walking Dead?

Hal: I was pretty all over the place emotionally as I didn’t have a point of reference, it being my first US audition. The overall feeling was more of a “I’m so lucky to be here” than being a challenging or daunting experience. I did feel pretty comfortable pretty quickly thankfully. The fact all I had to do was act and I had money for the first time in my life was an easier version of life than the previous years working non-stop for little moneys on my indie film.

If there are any two characters between the main show and Fear The Walking Dead that you would like to see Silas interact with, who would they be?

Hal: Rick and Daryl probably. Sorry boring answer but that’s who realistically would probably be the coolest.

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Interview: Kjersti Long on her New Single “Not Your Princess”

Kjersti Long has started her music career at an early age. She was nine years old when she wrote her first song “Rollercoaster” as it was about her personal struggles with anxiety. Kjersti also released her first album Stronger Than You Think I Am a year after she headlined The Bitter End in New York City.

At that time, the future was bright for her and it still is. The talented singer also headlined many iconic venues across the united states such as The Apollo Theater, The Velour, House of Blues, The Delancy, and The Stone Pony. It would take a massive amount of years to headline those world famous venues, but she did it.

With the support of her family, friends, and fans, Kjersti will go very far in this industry. Her passion really shines through her music and her great personality. Kjersti Long also has hobbies outside of music such as horseback riding and reading books. As the time goes by, Kjersti will have plenty of stories to tell through her music and social media.

Her new single “Not Your Princess” tells a unique story and Kjersti Long explains it all on this exclusive interview. Also to note, there are two versions of this song. One is pop themed, and the other is rock themed. Kjersti also goes over the decision to produce two versions of “Not Your Princess” as well.

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Interview: Melissa McBride Breaks Down That Cliff Scene on The Walking Dead

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

The Walking Dead’s 10th season has finally concluded earlier this week. The Whisperer War has taken a toll on each community and now that it is over, what is coming next is bigger than what we seen before. One central character during this arc has had a journey.

That journey started tragic, and ended with a satisfying victory. That character is Carol and Melissa McBride is here to talk all about the season 10 finale!

I first have to bring up that masterful scene at the cliff. When you watched it for yourself, What went through your mind?

MM: “When I watched that scene, I was screaming in my head for Carol to walk back and away from the end of that cliff. I was also thinking that Carol has been through all of the trauma that Alpha put her through. You would have to be in a really dark place in your mind at that moment just like Carol was because she had all of this guilt, anger, and sadness that was building up inside her mind and she really thought the best way to heal from that, is to get away from everyone forever. But I am happy that Lydia saved her because Carol saved Lydia from a similar situation back at the season nine finale. The last thing that was on my mind, is that the post production did an outstanding job with the effects when the walkers were walking off the cliff because I did not see the finale until it aired.”

The moment that really stood out for me is when Lydia saved Carol when she was near the edge. You and Cassidy Mclincy worked together during this season, and it really came full circle during that scene. What can you say about how impactful that moment was with the both of you?

MM: “I love working with Cassady McClincy. The dynamic between us when we are ready to act our scenes out is great. We both knew that it would be an emotional scene when we read it on the script. But acting it out is really different. The part when Lydia threw Alpha’s mask away signifies that the era of The Whisperers is totally over and that we can peacefully move on. So I can say that scene did really impacted us and I believe that there will be a lot of fans that will relate to that scene and hug Lydia and Carol shared.”

Do you feel that Carol is finally relieved that Alpha and The Whisperers are over?

MM: “Oh yes! She is relieved that they are all gone. I feel that Carol was releaved the moment her and Daryl talked about New Mexico. What we seen with Lydia and Carol, was them two grieving and sharing each other’s pain while fully accepting eachother. What we then seen with Carol and Daryl, is a huge healing band-aid that they can both share when they hugged eachother.”

At the end of “A Certain Doom”, we were introduced to The Commonwealth soldiers. How do you think that Carol will fit in The Commonwealth if she goes there?

MM: “I am not sure if she can fit there. But I hope that Carol can. There is a lot about the final season that I cannot say for now, but The Commonwealth is going to be a challenege for most of the characters and you will find out how their lives will change. I do love the way those soldiers look though” (laughs).

The news broke that Daryl and Carol will be getting a spinoff series in 2023. Although it is not named yet, what would you name the show?

MM: “I would name it The Walking Dead: Ride with Daryl and Carol (laughs). But I have a few more names in my head. This spinoff has been in the works for quite a while. You can also see a few hints that the series was happening back in season 9, and early into season 10 of The Walking Dead. This is something we are both looking forward to!”

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Interview: On The Set Of The Walking Dead: World Beyond With Aliyah Royale

Aliyah Royale as Iris – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Gallery – Photo Credit: Carlos Serrao/AMC

Aliyah Royale plays as Iris on The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Iris is the sister of hope and these two have a great bond with eachother that we will see when World Beyond debuts in a matter of weeks. During my set visit tour, I got a chance to speak with Aliyah Royale about her role on World Beyond and her love of The Walking Dead in this exclusive set tour interview.

Aliyah on being casted on The Walking Dead: World Beyond

Aliyah: “It was absolutely insane. Wednesday I got this call to go in this room super early in the day. At the same night when I was with my friends at Benihana’s and I get a call to be in New York tomorrow. I tested for it that day with Alexa, and I was in New York for 12 hours max. And on Saturday morning, me and my mom were heading to the movies. My agent called me while we were in the car at the parking lot. He told me that I got the part and My mom was clearly the first person I told.”

“It was so crazy because we both told eachother that we were going to the movie and to also remain calm. But we were there jittery and we could not stop moving. We then decided to leave and go to the cheesecake factory to talk about this. It was so exciting and I got to share it with my mom.”

Aliyah Royale as Iris – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Sarah Shatz/AMC

Do you remember what movie it was? And did anyone in the theater notice that you were very excited?

Aliyah: “It was Stuber. We sat there for the first two minutes and I could not stop moving or pay attention to this movie. There were people looking around in that theater like ‘who the hell is this’, ‘who won’t stop talking, and ‘who won’t stop shaking the whole theater with her legs.’ I do have to watch Stuber at some point.”

Aliyah on describing Iris Bennett

Aliyah: “I like to describe her as a really good friend. She is very sweet, loyal, and a giver. Iris is ready to do anything for anyone at anytime and she does not need to know you. For example, the first time she meets another character, everyone else is asking ‘who the hell is this guy’ and Iris gives him a snack after she asks him if he is hungry. I like that about her because she always gives people the benefit of the doubt.”

Does Iris have a weapon of choice?

Aliyah: “Yes! her name is shilo. I am the only character that named their weapon. My favorite character on the main show is Negan and he has Lucille. So I wanted to name my weapon because of that. Shilo isa pole with a triceratops horn attached on the top of the pole. It belonged to Elton at first and he wanted to make the weapon cooler. And then Shilo was born!”

Has the name of Iris’ weapon made it to the show?

Aliyah: “It has not made the show, but it has made it to the crew which I am very happy about. Like when they hand me the weapon in the props area, they know that it is mines because I have the weapon’s name on a card where it is placed. Shilo is also the same name of my husky I had when I was eight years old. I associate both of them with the same level of coolness.”

How long have you been a fan of The Walking Dead?

Aliyah: “I would say ten years ago, but I was very young. I was too young to watch it at the time, but my brothers love the show. I became obsessed with The Walking Dead because of my brothers. My brothers also still do not believe I am on the show. They are in denial even after I told them. But I technically have no proof to show them because I can’t share any pictures at the moment (laughs).”

What kind of conflicts will we see Iris go through?

Aliyah: “I think one of the biggest conflicts Iris has, is making hard choices. She is trying to find the line between putting everyone in danger vs. doing the best she can to find her father. Her and her sister went on a journey to their father. During that journey, Iris has been put in situations that potentinally put people in danger that nobody expected to be in. If someone gets hurt, she does not want them to be left behind. She wants to make sure that none of the people that she brought with her on this journey serve the conciquences because of her decisions.”

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Interview: On The Set of The Walking Dead: World Beyond With Nicolas Cantu

Nicolas Cantu as Elton – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

Nicolas Cantu plays as Elton on The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Elton is the youngest of the group of main characters and he is interested in observing everything that is outside the walls of the community. But there is more to Elton than his bright personality and Nicolas Cantu is here to talk about the character.

Myself and other journalists got a chance to speak with Nicolas Cantu during the set tour of The Walking Dead: World Beyond and here are some of the highlights of the interview I will share. Also to note, Nicolas was accompanied by his mother and dog as these interviews took place.

Nicolas on his audition on the show and his initinal reaction

Nicolas: “When I saw the audition and it said ‘TWD3’ (at the time), my mind flipped out. Then I realized that it had nothing to do with the main show. So I had to play this character, but they could not spoil anything of the story elements. So it was a very weird audition to do that. But then I did the audition and I thought it went well. Then I got the callback and I thought that things were getting closer. A month later, I got the call that I will be joining the cast and I jumped on my couch. I was so estatic! It was so crazy.”

Nicolas on his character Elton

Nicolas: ” Elton is a very analitical, 14 year old boy. He is an old soul and is obsessed with this discovery with the world around him. He grew up in this fortified community and he has done all of this study behind the walls. Now it is time to get visceral with this study. Elton’s quest is to go out to the world and seeing how nature and these ’empties’ have affected the way people live outside of these walls. He is obsessed with discovery.”

Why are the walkers on this show called empties?

Nicolas: “In the main show, there is no zombie media so you could not call them zombies. In different parts of the world, people call them different things. We call them empties because they are empty inside. They are a shell of a person now. That is what I think of the thought process is. They are very distinct from the walkers on the main show. They are very affected by the enviornment and you can see how nature has taken both physical places and the bodies of these people.”

Nicolas on if Elton has a weapon of choice

Nicolas: “Elton’s weapon is karate, the knowledge of martial-arts, and his brain. Instead of actively going out to fight these empties, he knows that it is way more effictive and efficent to try to deter them or not engage at all. Every second you are fighting an empty, you also have every second of dying. If he ever comes face to face in a grim situation, he would rather deflect than try to completly demolish the threat.”

Does Elton have a special connection with anyone in the group?

Nicolas: “Elton is an orphan child in the community and he has not had a family in a long time. He and Silas get close together in the pilot. He also gets close with the girls of the group. Elton is building this family that he has not had in a long time. It is a very special thing for him and it is what he cherish the most.”

How does everyone that is younger find out about the empties?

Nicolas: “From inside the university, there are people doing research on the world out there. Elton would read books in the library to study up on what people know and documented on the outside. There are also clases to try to fight these empties. When the time comes, you would know what to strike, what to target, and what to avoid. They do know a lot about it. They have not seen these horrors first hand, but they know of them. The empties lurk outside and the security dispatch them like it is nothing.”

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Interview: On The Set of The Walking Dead: World Beyond With Alexa Mansour

Alexa Mansour as Hope – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

The Walking Dead World Beyond, The second spinoff in The Walking Dead’s long running franchise is set to debut in a matter of weeks. The show will focus on a younger group of individuals that are seeing the world outside of their community for the first time.

One of the main characters of the series is Hope. Hope is played by Alexa Mansour and Alexa had a lot to say about the character during my set tour on The Walking Dead: World Beyond. I will have to add a disclaimer, that I can only give highlights of this interview as there are a few questions that was answered about the current episode that was being filmed that I cannot share at this moment.

Alexa on getting casted on World Beyond

Alexa: “I hadn’t gotten a job in such a long time. I know a lot of people can’t say this but I was ready to quit. I was going on three auditions a day for months. So when you keep hearing, ‘She’s great, but she’s not right for the role,’ you’re kind of like, all right, I need to do something else. But I auditioned for this role back in April. My mom drove me to the audition because I had a long night before the audition day. She is waiting for me inside and I go inside and do my audition, and I remember that I had a band shirt on that belonged to my sister. The shirt had a drawing on it and it is probably something that I have not worn to an audition. So I put it inside out and I went in that audition with the tag sticking outside of my shirt. And I walked out and I looked at mom and told her that I screwed up and that there was no way they were calling me back. Flashforward to June and I got a call for a meeting with Scott Gimple and Matt. I went there, and I saw a bunch of actors that used to watch on television in the waiting room. The second I walked in, I thought that there is no way that this is going to happen. I spent about three hours talking with Scott and Matt. After the meeting, I called my agent and I told him that if I do not get this, I am done. Got a call a week later, and I was told that I was going to be tested for the pilot. They wanted to make sure I was edgy to do it. After the test which was the last part of the audition, I had another audition and I aced it. Then, I was flown to New York to meet with Aliyah Royale , who plays as Iris. Then the night before the 4th of July, I found out that I got the part. The first thing I said is “yay, I can fix my windshield!”

What was the drawing on the shirt?

Alexa: “It had a penis on it (laughs). But it was a band shirt and I can’t remember the name of the band. Before I walked into that audition, I remembered that the character is 16 years old and I can not walk in there with this showing (laughs).”

Alexa Mansour as Hope – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

How can you describe Hope in your own way?

Alexa: “Hope is such an angsty teen that does not give a s*** about anything or anyone. Hope does not think that she will live very long and she wants to have fun and do whatever she wants. Then she has to face a serious task with her sister and she gets her act together to do that. She is going through a lot of stuff that she does not want to show on the outside.”

How old is Hope when the apoclapse happens?

Alexa: “I want to say about 10 years old when Hope was watching everything happened. And Hope had to grow up knowing everything that she has seen when she was younger.”

Alexa on Hope and Iris’ bond as sisters

Alexa: “Their bond is unbreakable. They love eachother to death. Iris is the responsible one and Hope would be the one to make booze in her dorm.”

Alexa on her life changing now since she is part of The Walking Dead Universe

Alexa: “It’s one of those things where you can’t believe it until you see it. That also comes with people stopping you or knowing your name. That’s one thing, I have a lot of people know my name recently and I am not used to that. When we went to New York Comic Con, AMC had everything arranged for us. The hotels, the drivers, and all that stuff. I went to get lunch across the street and I walk back to my hotel and I never seen these people in my life. They were saying how much they are happy to have me back. I look at them like ‘how do you know my name’ (laughs). How do you know what I look like. So if someone came up to the street, I would probably freak out!”

If there was a real apoclapse, where would you go and what would be your weapon of choice?

Alexa: “I would go back to my house that I grew up in Los Angeles. It is completly gated with trees all the way up. No one can see or hear you. It was built in the early 1940’s and there is a bomb shelter underneath. My weapon of choice would be Daryl’s crossbow because you would not have to make contact with whoever you are aiming at. I wanted to go with a gun at first, but I was told that it would attract more of them to me.

Do you have a dream crossover character that your character would like to meet?

Alexa: “Yes! Daryl and Carol. I look at Carol and I would look at the epitome of a strong female character and I love her. And Daryl, I have a big crush on him to be honest!”

Did everyone in the community grew up there or were some of them transfered there as time went by?

Alexa: “From what I know, we all grew up there. I know that every character has a different story on how they ended up there. Iris and Hope grew up there. Huck has a long story of what she went through which I do not know 100% of what she went through. Felix was taken in by our dad. He was part of our family when we got there and he is like the big brother to us. Elton grew up there. Silas was brought in.”

What is your favorite episode you have been part of so far?

Alexa: “I do not remember the number, but it is called ‘Blades of Glory’ It was one of the hardest episodes we had to shoot because it was very hot out there and we were wearing jackets and there is a huge fire that we had to pass. It is the most emotionally and physically taxing episode. In the trailer, you can see a little of that episode. After watching that, it makes it all worth it. Even though it was the hardest, it is my favorite.”

The Walking Dead: World Beyond premieres on October 4th, 2020

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