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FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Creator Robert Kirkman Talks New Series

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead is one of the biggest pop cultural phenomenons of the twenty-first century. One whose countless fans are anxiously awaiting the AMC TV show’s first spinoff, Fear the Walking Dead. Premiering this summer, the new show stars Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis (pictured above) as two single parents fighting to make a life together amidst the outbreak of the zombie virus in Los Angeles. Last week I joined several other reporters in chatting with Kirkman, and the writer-producer shared with us a handful of exciting details about what looks to be another television smash…

On whether he had any of the show’s new characters in mind when he was writing the comic or working on the original show…

“It really kind of sprang about with the idea of doing another show. When AMC [asked] would I be interested in doing a companion show to The Walking Dead, my mind went into the mode… I created The Walking Dead when I with 23. I was 34 or 35 at the time we started developing this. I made a competition with myself. I wanted to see if I could come up with something cooler or more unique. What does old, tired, sad Robert Kirkman think about the apocalypse as opposed to the young, energetic version that did the first comic? It turns out that old, sad, tired Robert Kirkman needed the help of Dave Erickson. Working with Dave, he and I came up with all these characters and created this world, this Los Angeles version of Walking Dead. There are no leftovers or B-sides. These aren’t people that didn’t fit into Walking Dead or the comic or anything like that. This is an all-new cast created specifically for this show.”

On whether the new show would emulate the visual style of the original show…

“One of the things that was really important to us from day one was that this show stands alone. We wanted to it stand alone story-wise and character-wise. We wanted it to have its own corner of the universe. All of that extended to what our visual take on this show would be. I have to say, a big portion of that came from Adam Davidson, our director for the pilot of Fear the Walking Dead. He’s going to be directing a fair number of episodes of the show moving forward. He was able to come in with just a unique vision of Los Angeles as a city, but also bring a very different flavor. I’m not a director, so I can’t really verbalize it as well as he probably could. Suffice it to say that when you watch Fear the Walking Dead, it’s going to look very visually different than the way that The Walking Dead looks. For one, we’re not shooting on 16 millimeter; this is actually shot digitally. There’s just going to be a very different feel to this show, which is really exciting and I can’t wait for people to see it.”


On how the narrative will surprise Walking Dead fans…

“I think the most surprising thing about this show for fans is we’ll be pointing out all the things that we glossed over on the other show. I think having Rick wake up from his coma was certainly a fun dynamic and a great way to open the original show. But actually watching civilization crumble around these people and getting to experience them learning how to adapt in a much faster way, and with much more danger and much more uncertainty, is going to make this show very different. One thing that this show is going to provide is a very unique experience for people even if they have watched the first five seasons of The Walking Dead. It’s going to be pretty cool.”

On whether Fear the Walking Dead‘s zombies will look different than those of The Walking Dead

“We’re definitely going to have a different look to the zombies because this is much earlier in the outbreak. So they’re not going to be as decayed and they’re going to be as monstrous, which is going to make the violence in the show and the different things that happen, that much more startling. Because we’re going to be dealing with a much more human walker. So while there is going to be a tremendous amount of paranoia and psychological trauma, I think there’s not going to be any loss of zombie action or excitement in this show. We’ll be bringing in the best of both worlds.”


On whether the show’s LA setting will result in more action and bigger set pieces than those on The Walking Dead

“At times, yeah. I think because we’re in a metropolitan setting and because it’s a pretty epic surrounding that the characters are in, there will be some cooler things like that. As far as scale and scope, both shows will stand on pretty equal footing when it comes to epic things. I know what we have planned for season six of The Walking Dead is pretty epic. In all honesty, I haven’t really considered the competition that the two shows will be in as far as grandeur and that kind of thing. I don’t think Walking Dead itself is ever lacking for any kind of big, crazy set pieces. But, having the show set in Los Angeles, I think there’s probably going to be more chaos, especially in the first season and then moving into our second season. Just because we are watching civilization crumble, and there is a tremendous amount going on. The story is going to move very quickly. So I would expect it to be a little more hectic than the first season of The Walking Dead was.”


On his involvement with casting and directing…

“As far as casting goes, I’d like to say that I’m very intimately involved… I’m one of many producers on the show, so I have a voice. I work with Gale [Anne Hurd] and David Alpert and Dave Erickson and Greg Nicotero. We’re a tight-knit team. It helps figure out all the directors and actors. One of the cool things is Greg and Gale and David Alpert and I all perform the same function on The Walking Dead. So we’re able to use all of our experience for making that show and use that to help us bring in the best directors and best actors. While the shows are unique, there will definitely be a flavor that is present from the other show.”

On how much will be revealed about the origin of the outbreak…

“Next to nothing. I still maintain that’s not an important aspect of the story. I think watching Fear the Walking Dead, you’ll get a bigger picture of the world and there will currently be aspects of watching civilization crumble that will give you a better insight into what is happening here. But as far as digging down to actually find the smoking gun and realizing what that causes, it’s really just unimportant to the overall story. You’ll see when you start watching the show. If we were to do a spinoff of The Walking Dead and it was about a bunch of scientists that were working to find the cure and finding out the origins, that would bore me to tears. I don’t really know where that show goes. So we’re definitely keeping it interesting and doing some cool stuff. Struggling in that world where civilization is breaking down is much more interesting.”

On what’s interesting about playing with the characters’ family dynamics as opposed to a group of individuals or strangers…

“We have a lot of individuals and strangers in Walking Dead. One of the things we’re trying to play with this tight-knit family unit in Fear the Walking Dead is this concept of an extended unique family. What we have is Madison and her family and we have Travis and his family. They’re building a relationship. They’re getting ready to be married. Civilization is crumbling around them. They both have kids from separate marriages. It’s just an interesting family dynamic to deal with in any story. But having all of the intricacies and struggles that come from that kind of family dynamic, and setting it against the fall of civilization and in the face of the zombie apocalypse just makes things that more interesting. There’s a tremendous amount of unique family dynamics that we are going to be delving into in Fear the Walking Dead that has yet to be explored in The Walking Dead. That’s one of the many things that lends to these two shows being different and being able to exist together without any kind of overlap.”

On the actors chosen for the show and what makes them the perfect choice for their roles…

“Kim Dickens was so great in Gone Girl and Deadwood and Sons of Anarchy. She’s an actress that we’ve wanted to work with for a long time. There’s a strength to Madison that is something that is inherent in pretty much every role that she’s done. She just exudes this confidence and strength of character that is kind of embodied in the character of Madison.

Cliff Curtis in the role of Travis… You’ve seen him in a billion different things. He’s a fantastic actor. But he’s such an everyman. He has the strength to be this action hero if he wanted to be, but he has such a softness and kindness to him. I’ve seen the way Travis and Madison work together as a team. One of the things I’m really excited about is that, Travis and Madison, these are two characters that are very much in love. Too often in cable, television shows deal with the breakdown in relationships and infidelity and people not getting along and people getting torn apart. This is a show that’s very much about two people that are a team, first and foremost. They back each other up. They respect each other. They love each other. Watching these two people survive in this world together and watching how they lean on each other… It sometimes pulls them apart, but often times brings them together closer. As they continue to survive together, it is really going to be the core of the show.”

On whether a The Walking Dead limited TV series is possible…

“There’s always a possibility. I wouldn’t necessarily rule it out even though I currently have no plans to do that right now. Everybody is working really had on Fear the Walking Dead and trying to make it the best thing that it can be. I’m very happy to report that I think everybody is doing an amazing job on that. I’m really excited for the show to debut in August and for people to see, first what we’ve done, but we’re not in a hurry to continue expanding the world of The Walking Dead. It’s important to note that… we’re going into our sixth season and we’ve taken this step. We’re not going to be focused on too many different things right now. Let’s see how Fear the Walking Dead does first and then we’ll have nine spinoffs and it’ll be great. [Laughs.]”

What do you hope to see from Fear the Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below!

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