While Rick Grimes and his friends take a well-earned summer break after the shocking events of The Walking Dead‘s season six finale, the survivors in its spin-off show have returned to the zombie fray – and quickly find themselves all at sea.
They have a lot to live up to – Fear the Walking Dead had the highest viewing figures for the first season of any series in US cable-TV history.
It takes a different approach to the zombie apocalypse than its parent show, rewinding to tell the story of the outbreak’s early days, when Rick was still in a coma. It also shifted the action from the original show’s Atlanta, Georgia, to Los Angeles.
In season one, we saw mother-of-two Madison Clark, played by former Deadwood and House of Cards star Kim Dickens, her boyfriend Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) and their extended family try to figure out what was going on as a few isolated cases of a mysterious illness rapidly escalated into an undead epidemic.
As the season ended they had joined up with the mysterious Victor Strand (Colman Domigo) and were preparing to escape to the safety of the open sea on his yacht. It soon becomes obvious, however, that nowhere is safe.
Dickens was thrilled by the storytelling opportunities the new setting offered.
“This season put us in an entirely different environment, on the ocean in a boat, in the elements, and none of us are seafarers except for [Strand],” she says.
“It’s been very exciting for us. It offered us a lot of new challenges just as actors, you know, just to work where there is a lot of water, safety stuff we had to do – there is a whole water safety team – and new things we’ve had to learn to do, and we like the challenge a lot.
“As far as the characters, we are all now challenged as well by being on this boat – it sort of becomes a tinder box of emotions with seven different people with different ideas and motivations and different things that they are grappling with and trying to reconcile.”
Dickens played Joanie Stubbs in three seasons of Deadwood and detective Rhonda Boney in the 2014 film Gone Girl, so she is is no stranger to strong female characters – and is pleased to have the chance to portray another one in Fear the Walking Dead. “It’s been an incredible opportunity to get to lead a show, to get to do an action show,” she says.
“I have been fortunate in my career to always play complex, multidimensional women and this is no different.
“She is a full-blooded woman – she is fierce and strong and flawed, completely flawed, and she is a badass – so it’s been really, really fun to play.”
Working alongside zombies was an unfamiliar experience, however.
“This was a new genre for me to play and I was a little reticent at first, just because it wasn’t really a genre that I followed and was very schooled in,” she says.
“Then I read the script and it was just a very relatable character, and I thought that that was the key – to play it in all of its honesty and everything.”
Following the first season’s success, season two has more than doubled in length, from six to 15 episodes.
Dickens says, however, that the quality of the storytelling remains more important than the quantity.
“I think we are right in line where we should honestly be in a second season, as far as storytelling,” she says.
The parent show – and the long-running comic-book series on which is based – is renowned for regularly killing off prominent characters.
Does Dickens have any ideas of how she might like her own character to go out in a blaze of glory?
“I’ve not thought about that – I don’t like to think about that,” she says. After a moment, she adds: “Surprise me.”
That at least seems a safe bet if previous experience in the world of The Walking Dead is anything to go by.
• Episode three of Fear the Walking Dead season two is on AMC (OSN channel 39) at 5.10am tomorrow morning (the same time as the first US broadcast), with a repeat at 10pm. Catch up on the first two episodes of the season on OSN Play.
Source: art & life