Spoiler warning for anyone who hasn’t watched Fear the Walking Dead Episode 9.
Nobody was getting gross with their beverage and food choices this week on Fear the Walking Dead, thankfully. The action shifted in part to focus on Madison, Strand, Alicia and Ophelia as they stumbled upon a potentially safe and secure new location in a dark and looming hotel, a horror staple that offers up one of this series’ best visuals in all those zombies plummeting from the balconies. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Alycia Debnam-Carey about the show, and I asked what scared her the most about filming there.
“She’s alone in a hotel, and that already is just such a creepy idea. When we were filming it, parts of it were all blacked out, and we’d have sectioned off pockets of zombies in each room, and so when I’d open up doors, it was horrible! [laughs] It was like, ‘Oh no, there’s too many of them!’ So it became really not a fun thing.”
Sometimes all you want to do when you’re done with a scene is get to craft services to grab a bottle of water and calm down, but you can’t do that when other rooms are temporary homes for handfuls of ghastly zombies. Filming on locations means every bit of space is generally utilized, so the extras-as-zombies – can I call them “hellhops” in this scenario? – can’t wander too far. Plus, I mean sometimes they’re actually in the scene, as we saw in tonight’s episode. You’d think Alycia Debnam-Carey would get used to it, but some things are just impossible to adapt to, I guess, and it’s probably okay that “walking in on zombie hordes in dark rooms” is one of them.
Through most of “Los Muertos,” the hotel had more than most places to offer by way of shade and beds. Madison and Strand got ripped and took a load off, while also developing a bit of a flirtatious bond, though Alicia and Ofelia weren’t quite so lucky with their serious conversations. No one was really lucky in the end, as it became clear everyone had let their collective guard down at a particularly bad time, and you know that more hard times are coming for this frazzled group of survivors.
Alycia Debnam-Carey told me it wasn’t even just the zombies that creeped her out while filming this part of Fear the Walking Dead’s sophomore season.
“In terms of scary, just shooting at a hotel at night time is a bit weird. And that hotel is new but still gives you a little shiver up your spine if you think about it too long. . . . We were living and working in the same hotel. That was actually the scariest part. It was like, ‘Oh my God, I’m living in Groundhog Day.’ Living upstairs and shooting downstairs. It was so weird.”
I imagine that would get unnerving after a while as the brain starts to anticipate seeing undead folks milling about the living areas, as well as the sets. I spent years working in the hotel biz (and am currently not regretting moving away from it), but my fascination for them long before that, and I’m glad Fear the Walking Dead found a way to introduce one in such an effective manner, while also giving us a lovely musical performance. I want to see a high-rise get built in Alexandria in The Walking Dead Season 7, too, with a water fountain that is timed to music.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sunday nights on AMC, with Season 3 coming next year. To see when everything else will be hitting the small screen later this year, check out our fall TV schedule.
When “Fear the Walking Dead” rolled the credits on its midseason finale back in May, the show’s dynamic was much different. Up to that point, “Fear” had been largely a family affair. Now the group has been split into three separated factions, each struggling to survive in the burgeoning zombie apocalypse. Star Alycia Debnam-Carey, who plays Alicia Clark, says this new structure opens the show up to further explore the individual characters in the back half of Season 2.
“What was nice is it gave us a little bit more of an opportunity to feel the characters individually as opposed to a group,” she tells Variety. “While working in a group is great, on-set especially, it means you just don’t get to see the characters one-on-one. We finally get to see these characters grow on their own a little more.”
Debnam-Carey says fans can expect to see Alicia become more assertive in latter half of the season — likely a welcome evolution for fans of Lexa, the hardened warrior queen that Debnam-Carey played on “The 100,” which proved to be a breakout role for the 23-year-old thesp.
“She’s the one person that hasn’t lost as much as everyone else,” she says of Alicia’s position in Season 2. “It’s the first time she’s been able to step into that leadership role. She’s putting down the role of daughter, the role of the child, and proving herself as an equal.”
Despite the potential similarities in her characters’ post-apocalyptic circumstances, however, Denbam-Carey is hoping to keep Lexa and Alicia separate.
“I’ve tried to steer clear of any sort of parallels,” she says. “Lexa is an amazing warrior character and I adore her, but I definitely don’t want that to seep in because that’s not what Alicia is.”
According to the Aussie actress, Alicia wants to focus on what’s ahead, which leads to more tension with her mom Madison (played by Kim Dickens) who wants to go back and look for the rest of her family — especially Alicia’s troubled brother, Nick (Frank Dillane).
“Alicia starts to take control and think what’s important is what’s in front of you,” Debnam-Carey says. “Their dynamic has been filled with tension for a long time, because of the fact that Nick has been running off, and fueled by Travis becoming part of the family, and the two of them finally come head-to-head.”
She adds, “They’re both focusing on different things. For Madison it’s for everyone to be together and be safe while Alicia [is] adapting to this new world and it’s about how to actually survive with what’s in front of them and with what they have … They’re both strong characters, and it leads to a lot of tension.”
“Fear the Walking Dead” returns with its midseason premiere Sunday, Aug. 21 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
I’ve added 2 more interviews from the recent European press tour for Fear the Walking Dead that Alycia and co-star Colman Domingo did. Check them out below & you can also view screencaps in the gallery.
1. The Rick Grimes character is a woman
The hero of The Walking Dead is Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), a former sheriff who takes a leadership role in the communities that repeatedly come together and dissolve in post-apocalyptic Georgia. He’s adjusted well to the new order of things, evolving into a tough, ruthless leader who still retains a moral compass despite all the brutality in his life. He will do anything to protect his family, biological and surrogate. That leader/protector role on Fear is Madison Clark (Kim Dickens), who was a high school guidance counselor before the zombie apocalypse. Her journey has mirrored Rick’s in many ways, especially in her increasing willingness to commit harsh acts for the good of her tribe. She differs from Rick by retaining a tenderness to her personality — at least for now. The Walking Dead franchise has always been low-key progressive in its depiction of racial and gender equality (everyone is the same when literally the only thing you care about is staying alive), but it’s never really had a major female leader, good or bad, before Madison.
2. Rubén Blades’ performance
One thing Fear has that The Walking Dead does not is the presence of a genuine international icon in Rubén Blades. The singer and actor, who is such an important person in his native Panama that he ran for president in 1994, has done more in his 68 years than most could do in two lifetimes. He carries the weight of his experience in his portrayal of Daniel Salazar, a barber who came to America from El Salvador to escape his past as a soldier in the Salvadoran Civil War and make a better life for his family. His performance is — for the most part — restrained and dignified and abnormally complex for the franchise. His closest contemporary in terms of skill is Melissa McBride as Carol on The Walking Dead. Daniel Salazar ended the first half of the season on a bit of a cliffhanger and his fate is still unconfirmed, but hopefully he’s around for awhile in the second half.
3. The ensemble as a whole
The quality of the acting is slightly higher than it is on The Walking Dead across the board. Alycia Debnam-Carey is the best young actor on either of the shows. Her character, Alicia Clark, is believable both as an angsty teen and a crafty survivor who still sometimes lets her emotions get in the way of her judgment. And Frank Dillane‘s young James Franco thing as heroin-addicted problem child Nick Clark is unique on either show. He moves at a different pace in a way that’s a refreshing change from the dialed-up anxiety around him. The other members of the ensemble — especially Cliff Curtis and Colman Domingo — do solid work as well.
4. Making the most out of a single contained location
Much of the first half of Season 2 is confined to Victor Strand’s yacht, Abigail. Although it’s a big boat, it’s still cramped. But the show never ran out of stuff to do on Abigail, having the boat pick up floating refugees, get attacked by pirates, have really disgusting pump problems and more. Now, as 2B picks up, Strand, Madison, Alicia and Ofelia (Mercedes Masohn) are heading for the yacht, just like they were in Season 1 (hopefully they abandon that quest though. Fear the Walking Dead got a lot of use out of the boat, but no need to tug it).
5. More real-world resonance
Neither Walking Dead show traffics in zombie-based social commentary, a la George Romero‘s Living Dead series, but Fear feels closer to mirroring society. Perhaps this is due to its immediate post-apocalyptic setting, but more likely it’s due to its family dynamics. Showrunner Dave Erickson has described the show as a family drama with zombies, and the Clarks and Manawas deal with problems a lot of families face: addiction, incompatible parenting styles, teens with bad attitudes. The late post-apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead is so far from modern society that there’s almost no room for meaningful human connection. But on Fear, they’re still working on it. It’s more relatable.
6. A moodier, artier tone
This is a difficult point to put into words, since so much of the tone is conveyed visually, but Fear just feels more artistic. Erickson is fond of landscape shots and vibrant colors and painterly framing (he did come to Fear from Breaking Bad, after all, another show set in a desert). It feels more akin to AMC’s more prestigious fare than The Walking Dead does. It’s easier to imagine someone liking both Fear and Better Call Saul than The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul.
7. Zombies, of course!
One of the main criticisms of Season 1 was that there just weren’t enough zombies. Well, Season 2 fixed that, and went so far as to add one of the most memorable zombies on either show, the truly disgusting “crab zombie.”
Fear The Walking Dead returns Sunday at 9/8c on AMC. If you want to catch up on Season 2A, those seven easily binge-able episodes are available on Amazon.
The cast and crew of Fear the Walking Dead are tucking into their lunch buffet with all the appetite of the show’s zombies (or as the show refers the them the “infected”). The sun is beating down in Baja, Mexico, the location of the studio where the show is filmed, and though most of the day’s shoots are happening indoors, everyone still needs to travel from the large building where the buffet is laid out to various sound stages, office buildings, dressing rooms and several infinity tanks which give the illusion of open water (both in front of green screens and facing out onto the ocean).
Can zombies swim? Fear the Walking Dead sets sail for season twoRead moreFear the Walking Dead, the “companion show” to the original Walking Dead series, follows several loosely blended families trying to survive the early days of the outbreak that will eventually create the world that Carl, Rick and co inhabit. Over the first seven episodes of the show’s second season (the eighth airs on Sunday 21 August), the cast travels from Los Angeles to Baja aboard the Abigail, a yacht belonging to enigmatic businessman Victor Strand, played by Colman Domingo.
Hence the infinity tanks, which today are empty – the main exterior Abigail set has just been removed from the studio’s prize outdoor tank, which resembles an enormous series of interlocking concrete salt dishes. It’s a massive undertaking: the original task of moving the boat from the soundstage where it was constructed to the tank was scheduled for half a day, but took over two days. Still, even the empty tank is impressive, and looks more like a skate park than a film set. (It comfortably held the entire vessel used for Master and Commander: the Far Side of the World).
Day with the Dead: surviving 24 hours on the set of Fear the Walking Dead The tank is wide open, but the rare moments of filming I see during my day on set are crammed into tight spaces in what comes to feel like a maze encompassing the indoor sound stages. Each scene is set up in a space so narrow that it would be almost impossible not to get the angle the directors want, so they only run through a quick take or two before sending the relevant cast members off to another segment of the maze. The haste makes sense: each episode is filmed in eight days (some seven) on a tight turnaround.
Not that the cast members are upset. “People see what they want to see,” Colman Domingo says, stretched out on a couch in his dressing room in one of the studio’s main buildings, surrounded by a gaggle of journalists. He’s describing the ambiguity of his character, Victor Strand, who provides some respite from the constant trauma of life in a zombie apocalypse and who is by far the best part of Fear the Walking Dead.
“What I love about our show is that you’re ahead of the game,” Domingo adds, referring to the fact that the Walking Dead audience knows far more than the characters. Alycia Debnam-Carey, who plays angsty teen Alicia Clark, knows all about the passion of the show’s fans. “You’re playing a teenager who is making mistakes in a world where the audience is so much more aware than our characters,” she says, which is something she describes as “frustrating for our audience”. She continues: “They’ve got six seasons of The Walking Dead rulebook to go by.”
What, exactly, is in that rulebook? Speaking in a room covered in 3D models and SketchUp renders that look like unused concepts for Doobie Brothers album covers, production designer Bernardo Trujillo tells us that he and his team did the entire design and building of the Abigail sets in six weeks, from elaborate renderings depicting the full interior of the yacht to the various pieces that combine to create almost all of the locations and cabins. (“We learned a lot about boats,” he says, laughing.) Erickson admits the intensity of this demand: “It’s very easy to be in the writer’s room and say hey, they’re gonna get on a boat for a season. It’s another thing when you have to build your section of the boat in six weeks.
”There’s an extraordinary amount of stuff needed to keep the Fear machine going. Case in point: the props department, housed in a warehouse filled with fake weapons, backpacks and cans of food, in addition to making molds, filling them, and generating a large silo of prop weapons (including several differently-sized duplicates used to film slightly different, stitched-together versions of fight scenes), has to get clearance for the use of certain items. This legal limitation contributes to the oddity of many of the weapons used on the series – as props master Colin Thurston wryly notes, handing one of the assembled reporters a rubber machine gun for further examination, “AMC are very protective about marks and branding”.
The Walking Dead is, perhaps, the most valuable of those marks – especially considering the intensity of its fanbase. Over the course of our set visit, each actor on the show our group talks with is asked about the rabidity of fan reactions. “Out of every hundred people,” says Mercedes Mason, who plays Ofelia Salazar, there are “three or four who are mad at everything”. Domingo, who plays Strand, is slightly more delicate: “I love the idea that people are that …” He takes a moment to find the word, “spirited”.
In this light, the rush to make more Fear makes sense. The studio is the site of a hyper-efficient production assembly line, churning out the same scenes with different variations to meet a large demand for Walking Dead content. It’s kind of like a lunch buffet, just waiting to be crammed down so everyone can get back to work. But despite this high level of activity, the set is still somewhat subdued, more efficient than lively – for the production of a zombie show, Fear the Walking Dead is surprisingly bloodless.
‘Fear the Walking Dead’ cast only know what’s happening days in advance, actress says –
SINGAPORE, Aug 17 — The zombie genre is one that never seems to be in danger of fading, and Australian actress Alycia Debnam-Carey thinks this is because of what is going on around the world.
“I’m a bit surprised that the zombie craze has gone on for so long, actually. But I guess it has a lot to do with what we see in the media all the time… the environment, genetic engineering, poverty, diseases like Ebola. I guess it’s all part of our collective consciousness and that’s reflected in films and on TV,” she said. “I think we’re realising our place in the universe, that we’re quite fragile and the more that science and technology takes the lead in our development as a species, the easier everything could be taken away from us.”
Debnam-Carey, 23, is currently playing Alicia Clark on AMC series Fear the Walking Dead, an American horror drama which is a spin-off and prequel to the channel’s uber-popular The Walking Dead. Her character is the overachieving teenage daughter of high school guidance counsellor Madison Clark, played by Kim Dickens.
Initially, the horror genre was not the actress’ cup of tea. “I’m not really a horror person so I was a little apprehensive to read the scripts for Fear. But when I did, I thought it was so engaging and so well written,” she admitted.
After she started watching The Walking Dead, she “quickly got into it”. “It’s nowhere near as much about the zombies as I thought it was. It’s about the human beings and what they’re willing to do to each other to survive. The manipulation, the power balance and the struggles… that’s what’s so interesting about it,” she shared.
Not only does the show cause viewers to be on tenterhooks, the cast, too, are left in the dark. Debnam-Carey says from episode to episode: “It’s very much a case of working one work week to the next.”
“So, we find out, perhaps five days in advance, what will be happening in the next episode… And while we’re filming, we really don’t know the outcome of the season. You chat to people on set, speculate a bit! But everyone’s really tight-lipped about the details.”
Without giving away any spoilers, will there be an especially dark moment or event in this half of the season? Will one of the main characters become infected, perhaps?
Without spoiling? I couldn’t tell you something like that without it being a spoiler! (laughs). What I can say is that our characters are now being exposed to a lot more in this new world. They’re fractured and they’re separated which means they have less security. So, definitely, they’re certainly at risk of coming into contact with the infected a lot more and that’s definitely more of a threat. But, really, you’ll have to watch and find out what happens!
Your character has been forced to grow up very, very quickly. Do you feel that has also happened to you in real life?
I was always a pretty serious kid, to be honest. My mum always used to tell me that I was like a little grumpy old man with a grey cloud following me, because I was so driven and determined and serious! (laughs) I think me and my character are actually quite different. I think we’ve grown up very differently, as well. But yes, I guess growing up happened quickly for me, in terms of starting work and then for that work to be recognised so suddenly. But, a lot of the time, you do a job and there’s a lot of time before it’s released and it doesn’t actually feel like a lot is happening. Being out on a press tour has actually helped me realise the impact of the work a bit more! But, no, growing up for me hasn’t been such a severe transition as it has for Alicia.
Your character was very much a teenager in Season One. Did you look to any inspiration to play that part?
No, not really. I was 21 when we started, so really being a teenager wasn’t that far behind me. I actually think it’s quite hard playing a teenager because you’re the subject of a lot of predetermined characteristics. There’s a stereotype, in a way. You know, people already have the idea that a teenager is obnoxious, or moody, or naive, or maybe sassy … But as an actor, you’re trying to make it more real. You want to find out about the essence of the character rather than the stereotype. What defines her? What does she want? — TODAY
*Transcript courtesy of AMC.
Fear the Walking Dead was created in part to expand Robert Kirkman’s zombie universe to show how the other side of the country was handling the apocalypse, and viewers have gotten to see a surprising number of different locations in the season and a half that have aired. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Fear actress Alycia Debnam-Carey and I asked her about new environments coming to Season 2 and how having all these area changes has affected the show. Here’s how she answered.
“Our group stumbles on a hotel, which was a really great tool for us to be able to introduce some new characters. And new, also local characters from where we were shooting. So we’re shooting in Mexico and finally we get to actually introduce people of that country, and that was really great because it’s a totally different dynamic. Language, we get to play with, and culture, so that was really exciting. Definitely gave a different flavor.”
This is precisely one of the things that I have enjoyed so much about Fear the Walking Dead so far. So much of the horror genre exists entirely in limited spaces, whether it’s a haunted house or a neighborhood or a weird cube machine. And yes, that includes hotels, too, which Alycia Debnam-Carey hints is coming to this show. (It can be seen in the trailer the show released a few weeks ago.) But does anybody really expect Madison, Strand, Ophelia and Alicia to stick around in this place until Season 3 comes around? It’s not the best bet. Looks like a nice place, though.
Like The Walking Dead before it spent a limited first season traveling through Atlanta, Fear the Walking Dead spent its initial episodes getting familiar with the ins and the outs of Los Angeles (and a suburb). But while Rick & Co. spent way too much of Season 2 in and around Hershel’s barn, the first half of the companion series’ second year has taken its central characters off-land and out to sea for a while, hitting up a few locations as it became clear the Mexican city of Baja California was the destination of choice. And then they actually went to Baja California, where a bunch of horrible shit went down that splintered the core group.
As you can imagine, the second half of Season 2 will follow the different groups – with Nick heading into some particularly intriguing places – which means we’re getting even more different settings beyond the hotel mentioned earlier. And while she didn’t tease any other future whereabouts, Alycia Debnam-Carey did talk a little more about why she personally loves when productions take her outside her normal locales.
“I love working on location because it changes all the time and it’s new and exciting and you get to see so many cool new places and immerse yourself into the environment. But it also means that, yeah, you’re away from home and you aren’t in the same space. And especially working in Mexico, too, there’s a lot of differences. Like the language barrier or food, which were all amazing at the same time.”
As someone who is terrible at picking up other languages, spending months at a time in a different country is almost as intimidating to me as fighting off zombies. Not really, but my communication skills would be the same in both situations. In any case, I love that Fear the Walking Dead is able to bring in local citizens from the different locations to give the episodes that much more authenticity.
Thankfully, The Walking Dead is about to enter what could be its most location-filled season yet, with new areas such as the Kingdom, the Sanctuary and more coming in Season 7; but it’s hard to forget all those years where it just felt like the survivors were just walking through the woods. Fear the Walking Dead has yet to get static with its environments, and we certainly hope the show keeps that refreshing vibe going for as many years as it’s on the air. But
Fear the Walking Dead will return to AMC for the second half of Season 2 on Sunday, August 21, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To learn when and where everything else will arrive on the small screen later this year, check out our fall premiere schedule.