As AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead reaches the midpoint of its fifth season, journalists converged Friday at Comic-Con International in San Diego to talk with the actors and creators of The Walking Dead’s companion series. On hand to discuss were showrunners Scott Gimple and Ian Goldberg, producers Andrew Chambliss and Michael Satrazemis, as well as actors Jenna Elfman (June), Danay Garcia (Luciana), Rubén Blades (Daniel), Alexa Nisenson (Charlie), Alycia Debnam-Carey (Alicia), Lennie James (Morgan), Austin Amelio (Dwight), Maggie Grace (Althea) and Karen David (Grace).
This season has seen another character come over from The Walking Dead – that of Dwight, former right-hand man to the sadistic Negan. James’ character Morgan had already crossed over last season. When asked if there would continue to be more such movement, Gimple said not immediately, stating, “We’re trying to establish footing before another crossover, but the shows will eventually catch up with each other.”
This brought up one of the primary differences between the two shows – the characters of The Walking Dead have largely settled into a way of life, while Fear the Walking Dead’s cast continues to roam. Regarding the contrast, Chambliss said, “Our cast is nomadic. We’re changing things up in Season 5, and there will be a big change at end of the season. We’re always finding ways to be different from The Walking Dead, and be not about building communities.”
To be certain, Rick Grimes and company never had to worry about hazards like radiation poisoning, like the cast of Fear has this season. “This is something we were going to do in Season 4,” said Chambliss, “But it seemed irresponsible to have a hurricane and then a nuclear meltdown in same season. My dad was power plant engineer, and he gave me some advice. I thought it would be fascinating to see what that would be like after apocalypse.”
Gimple snidely chimed in, “My dad gave legal advice to shopping malls, so we didn’t seek his advice.”
The show has differentiated itself in another way this season: the addition of children to this season’s cast. The introduction of some degree of innocence has helped offset the show’s especially grim undertone. “Having kids on the set totally changed the tone of the show,” Garcia said. “They looked like kids of the apocalypse, but they were adorable.”
Even with new characters being added, the existing characters continue to strengthen. When asked how they’d like to see the characters grow, Chambliss spoke of Elfman’s character June’s relationship with John, played by Garret Lee Dillahunt. “This Sunday’s episode has a special moment between June and John,” said Chambliss. “I don’t think there’s anything that would rip them apart.”
About what she would like to see happen to her own character, Nisenson said, “I would like Charlie to redeem herself, and have the group forgive her.” Charlie was responsible for the death of Nick last season.
Blades, whose character Daniel now has a cat, proclaimed that his character has more lives than one. “My goal is to just stay alive,” Blades said. “That’s my hope for Season 6, Season 7, Season 8 … “
Regarding her character Luciana, Garcia added, “My character has proven herself physically and mentally. I would like to explore who that woman is now.”
“I’d like to see June’s inner warrior,” Elfman said. “What she’s got in that lay down moment.”
James was asked if his character Morgan made him more “badass.” “I was already a badass long before this show,” James joked, but then added. “If I am a badass, it’s because this genre made me one.”
The room erupted in laughter when James followed with, “Oh wait, I just said I was already was one before.”
Goldberg commented on the growing relationship between Morgan and Alicia. “That’s been one of the more fun relationships to explore this season,” Goldberg said. “Morgan is on the humanist path, and Alicia is the protector. But there might be some overlap between the two. They’re two very strong leaders.”
James added, “Two people going to war to be a leader has been done - we’ve seen that before. But for two to see how each can better the other is a far better story, and I’ve seldom seen it.” The unique relationship is another indication of how the show stands apart from The Walking Dead.
The discussion of the shows’ differences reignited discussion of character crossovers. Amelio stated that Dwight will get a lot of screen time in the season’s second half. The actor also mentioned he was all for switching shows, as the show takes place in Texas, where Amelio is from.
Goldberg added, “What’s so exciting about having Morgan and Dwight cross over is that it’s cool to find ways to connect the shows that are surprising.” Amelio joked that he heard a rumor that he and James would be crossing over next into a children’s show. To which James responded, “Sure - we’re both young enough.”
The cast also lightheartedly compared surviving a fictional apocalypse to surviving a potential real one, spurred on by the recent series of earthquakes around Los Angeles.
Goldberg said, “Being on the show so long makes me realize I wouldn’t make it long at all.”
Garcia said, “I have plenty of flashlights, courtesy of The Talking Dead, so I’m all set.” Garcia was referring to parting gifts provided to her for appearing on the show hosted by Chris Hardwick.
Blades proclaimed to be the most prepared. “I have 9000 cans of pork and beans, and 3000 rolls of TP.”
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, Fear the Walking Dead stars Lennie James, Colman Domingo, Alexa Nisenson, Alycia Debnam-Carey, Garret Dillahunt, Jenna Elfman, Austin Amelio and Karen David.