AMC’s  New Show THE WALKING DEAD: World Beyond

Moderator Chris Hardwick

Scott M. Gimple, Chief Content Officer

Matt Negrete, Showrunner and executive producer

Aliyah Royale – Iris

Alexa Mansour – Hope

Julia Ormond – Elizabeth

Joe Holt -Leo

This new group is the first generation surviving the apocalyptic world. Two sisters and their friends leave their safe place and jump into an unknown world. Some will become hero’s, some will become villains but they will all find the truth they seek. Airing October 10th 2020.

Start with the broader pictures of how this fits into The Walking Dead Universe?

Scott: Rick woke up after a two week coma to find out the world had changed. These two sisters don’t wake up from a coma but they do wake up from the way they look at life. They go out and find a new world. They start from a place of safety but not ignorance. They leave to do something heroic. The thing they have in common is The Walking Dead is bad things happen but love exists.

Matt: Monument Day is one of the two events from the pilots. The other is the Night the Sky Fell. Its an intense series of flashback because bad things are literally falling from the sky. At the same time this is the last time our characters experienced fear. We pick up ten years later and the day of reflection is Monument Day. They are thinking about reflecting on the monuments of the past reflecting on how they were and what they mean to them. It really is a solemn day of reflection thinking of the people from the past. They are the first generation of the apocalypse. There real life is so much different than we know today. In the time since it has been and adjustment of survival and being part of a community unlike any community we have seen so far. They are not ignorant, they know how walkers work or “empties”, they know how to kill them in theory but not having done it before.

Why call the walkers “empties”?

Matt: I started thinking about something that Robert Kirkman had put in one of the comics who used a phrase from the show so I’m stealing from Robert Kirkman.

Scott: I believe it was Jesus who used the word.

Matt: Thematically it felt relevant to the show, Iris in the pilot dreams she is dead because she felt empty inside so I thought there was a cool parallel to it.

Is Hope’s name a reflection of her outlook?

Alexa: No. I don’t think they could have picked a name further from the truth. She is living by ‘what ever happens happens’ and it doesn’t fit her. So much irony. If Iris’ name had been Hope it would have been more on point.

Iris is the more hopeful?

Aliyah: She is a fiercely loyal friend. She will take on any role that you need her to. She felts responsible for everyone around her. The thing about Hope is that she is Iris’ hope. If hope isn’t there by her side it is a double team effort. Iris can’t do it without Hope.

Alexa: I think Iris is always there to catch Hope when she falls. I think Iris is Hope’s hope. Its so true because Irish has the idea to leave to go on this mission and Hope pretends to be a badass and is so scared. She looks at Irish and she convinces her. Hope will ditch school, Irish gets her out of everything.

How did you establish that bond?

Alexa: I thought someone else got the role. I didn’t know who Iris was going to be. I get a txt from Aliyah and she says ‘we have this little video from AMC’ and I went to help her. I was like ‘yes, lets do this!’. She ended up living with me the whole shoot.

Aliyah: No. Its funny, I think especially when we walked on stage from New York Comic Con, the fans end up knowing more about the characters than the actors do. I’m ready to be part of a community that genuinely care about the characters. Its awesome.

Tell us about Leo.

Joe: Dr. Bennet is a renounced biochemist and geneticist. He goes off to teach and impart the wisdom of what he has discovered about trying to cure this plague. He goes off to another community to help them along.

What is your signature weapon?

Joe: It’s hard to get past Lucille and it was a fantastic weapon. I thought it was a long hammer but after seeing Lucille I’m getting a baseball bat and putting things on the end of that bat.

Talk about Elizabeth who is introduced arriving on a black helicopter, the same kind that took Rick Grimes away.

Julia: She is basically a high up figure in a soon to be discovered new community. I wasn’t originally tap into The Walking Dead, so when it came up I thought I’ll binge watch that because a million people can’t be wrong. When The Talking Dead came out I didn’t really latch on after the whole of the first episode. I ended up binging everything and going on to Fear The Walking Dead and becoming a complete fan. Even towards the end when the credits would role I would say ‘nooooo!’ I turned into a complete fan.

Joe: I had not watched the show either. About 10 days ago I decided to get into this thing and I’ve watched 90 episodes and I don’t know if its healthy but now I’m an addict of the show. What ever you guys are doing, it works.

Scott: Andy Lincoln hasn’t watched it.

Does Elizabeth know where Rick is?

Julia: If Elizabeth knows where Rick is I’m not sure she would tell you. If Elizabeth tells you I’m not sure if you should believe her. I, Julia, will not answer because I like my job. You will have to watch and find out.

The world is different than Fear and WD, does it affect Worlds Beyond?

Matt: For Nebraska its notoriously flat so one of the things we were thinking about and wanting to establish an obstacle for our characters that was a point of no return. We started thinking about what would attract empties for miles and found tire fires can be seen from miles. These huge piles of tires can burn for decades so we started thinking about what could be more awesome than a pile of tires for our characters to go through as a point of no return.

What was your first “empty” kill like?

Aliyah: I am absolutely terrified of zombies, walkers – its not my thing. Its probably the one thing in the world that scares the life out of me.  The undead is not for me. The first night on the set and the first time I saw a walker, I opened the door to catering, 12 of them walked out. It’s pitch black dark and they all walked out in single file, I don’t know where they were going and I was mortified.

Didn’t you throw up on an empty?

Aliyah: It took me time to do that. I was mortified.

Alexa: I thought I could handle this and I’m not going to be scared. When they catch you off guard its pretty scary. I was sitting outside my trailer minding my own business, there was this girl and she comes up and says ‘hey Alexa’ and I walked straight into my trailer. I was terrified. I’m getting more use to it when I see them eating granola bars and I thought ‘okay, they’re just like us’. They can’t run very fast so keep that in mind.

Scott: Don’t get confident.

Second session.

Hal Cumpston – Silas

Nicholas Cantu – Elton

Nico Tortorella – Felix

Annette Mehendru – Huck

How do Hal, Nicholas and Nico’s characters factor into the story?

Matt: Our group is on a cross country quest this season and they are along for the ride. Elton is the brains of the operation and an old soul in a lot of ways and this is his one chance to see the world. Silas is this loner with a secret and has a dark past and hoping to escape it which is easier said than done. Felix is the girls guardian while the girls are away and like a big brother and Hope’s nemesis in some ways. Felix puts her in the slammer in a lot of ways. Huck is Felix’s partner in crime and we see Huck feels responsible for Hope being out there and wants to bring the group back safely before anyone gets hurt.

Why does Elton dress in a suit?

Nicholas: When you mesh the suit in 100 degree weather it gets a little uncomfortable in the elements. It is impervious to walker bites and its like being a walking teddy bear. I went through three suits because I kept growing and by the end of a few episodes the suits were not fitting.

Scott: The suit was durable, it was not specifically made for walkers.

You know martial arts?

Nicholas: Elton is a black belt in karate and taken up teaching kids how to defend themselves, I had to learn a lot of karate for the show learning strength, moves and stances.

What can you say about Silas?

Hal: I’d say that you look at him compared to the other teenagers leaving the community and hopefully he can provide some help killing zombies. I don’t know because he is not as useful as he thought. His strength is that he doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body. He can’t not be a nice person all the time. That’s not the most necessary skill to have. Even though there are zombies out there, he doesn’t talk to anyone in the community and is shunned in this community. Its better going out with zombies than living in a community that doesn’t talk to you.

Felix is ahead of security on campus, what does that entail?

Nico: First and foremost he is responsible for keeping people safe. The community has been together for some time. There is a wall surrounding the university and one of Felixs’ main job is to teach the younger generation how to protect themselves. It is physical activity as well as mental and emotional wealth and heath and activity. This is the most physically challenging job that I’ve had in the best ways. We started fight training right away and went you get to set you have to put it all together and shoot it at every angle to get everyone’s coverage and its a lot. Its also the most rewarding work I think I’ve ever done and proven I want to be an action star for the rest of my life.

Huck is also on the security team.

Annette: Huck spends a lot of time alone in the wilderness so she’s very excited to join a team where she has a clear purpose. She knows the only way to bring the world back together is get with the best group possible. She’s happy to be part of the community and be partners with Felix. It’s a fantastic friendship and partnership. They are well trained and got some of the best training to be in this position. It’s been a lot of fun going on this adventure with everybody.

How much will the CRM play into the show?

Scott: It is a huge part of the show. We find out a great deal about them. They are a very mysterious force. They are incredibly secretive, regardless we go into that community a bit but get some tantalizing hints. We see Elizabeth and other people. They are a constant presence in this story and it explains a lot toward what we have seen in the other shows and invites new questions. This is me not being coy.

What kind of new zombies are there?

Matt: Its interesting because we are now 10 years after everything fell apart and with that is 10 years of decay. I’m a big fan of disgusting walkers. There is one empty that sort of takes from that and I didn’t expect it when I pitched it to Greg and his team. I was driving in Richmond and I saw a sketch that Greg forwarded and I almost heaved. There were holes in the Empty and its so great. Anything that maximizes total disgust we are doing it.

If you were to cross over to the other Walking Dead Universes where would you go?

Nicholas: I think Eugene and Elton would be a powerhouse for the ages. I think we could safe absolutely everything. Both of our characters are intellectual and curious about the world around them. He wears the cool best and the vests – I have the suits – we’d be a killer duo.

Has your character have any post-apocalyptic tattoos or are they all your own?

Nico: That is a good question with a complicated answer. It is no secret that I’m heavily tattooed and we talked about what made sense for Felix. We collectively came together with a bad ass concept that is visually striking but also honors the past and the ones that Felix has lost in a very special way. We landed on something so cool.

Did you shoot the whole season?

Matt: We shot all the first season, it is in the can and ready to air. We are in the midst of writing season two. Half of my stress of this panel is to not say anything spoiler-y. We wrapped up post production right around the time everything shut down.

Harder or easier to make a story line that doesn’t have a graphic novel storyline?

Scott: It’s harder because of the brilliance Robert Kirkman supplied and even the new stuff that get you to the moments in the Walking Dead, that said its easier in some ways because its total discovery. People don’t have an expectation. Its very exciting to surprise people. So it goes both ways. This show still has so much that is drawn and inspiration from Robert. The story values of The Walking Dead are consistent and all through the stuff we do.

What was the importance of telling the story from kids point of view?

Scott: The Walking Dead has been on ten years and Fear The Walking Dead is six years so we wanted to do something knew. We wanted to tell a different story from a different point of view. It has been an incredible source of inspiration and characters. We want to show the audience a different world beyond The Walking Dead.



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.