Lorenzo James Henrie, who plays Chris Manawa on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about Chris’s attraction to Brandon’s group and his shifting morality.
Q: Chris has gone to a darker place since we first met him. Are his actions a plea for help or simply who the apocalypse made him into?
A: There’s so much history and backstory to Chris that has culminated into who he is now. He was bullied in high school and middle school, he came from a broken family, and he had a lot of crap he had to deal with at such a young age that was breaking him already. He was crying for help from his dad in the first season and trying to seek the affection of his mother and father in this broken family. Then, his mom dies and it’s just one thing after the other. In the first few episodes of the second season, he’s trying to seek the affection and help of others. The kid is young — he’s only 16 — and he starts to realize that he’s the problem and he needs to get away from everyone. I think at that point, it’s a permanent switch in Chris and there’s no point of return… Chris is so young and adaptable, and he feels as if his dad doesn’t get the new rules of this new world.
Q: How has Chris’s stance on morality changed?
A: I think in this world on our show, your morality is tested and the whole idea of good versus bad is tested. Personally, if the apocalypse were to actually happen, I think still there is a standard of good and bad and right and wrong. That’s what Travis is fighting for. For Chris, because he’s so young and innocent and immature and doesn’t really know that standard, he’s come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as right or wrong. If that premise is true, then there’s no such thing as morality. It’s a cool juxtaposition of opposite arguments. Chris has truly given into this apocalypse world.
Q: What was Chris looking for in Brandon’s group when he meets them? A sense of belonging?
A: 100 percent. He’s seeking the affection that his father never gave him. His father gave his affection to Nick, and Chris is dying for attention. Every kid’s problem with their mother or father creates a hole in your soul. Chris is seeking for that void to be filled with something.
Q: In some way, is the apocalypse oddly entertaining for a group of young boys?
A: Brandon’s group… they represent what people would act like if there were no laws. There is a set of laws that we have to abide by, and they are the complete opposite. Before the apocalypse, they were nothing and now they can do whatever they want. That’s appealing to a lot of people, but it’s going to also lead to unhappiness. They’ve killed their friends, they’ve killed Chris, and there’s no standard of judgement they live by. It’s messed up and wrong to kill your friend, even though it’s the end of the world. That doesn’t change.
Q: After they killed two of their own friends, did you personally suspect they might end up doing the same to Chris? Do you think Chris had any idea?
A: As Lorenzo, I knew I was getting killed months beforehand. I just didn’t know how… I think Chris is ignorant. He’s so ignorant for not listening to his father and I think every audience member that has seen his actions are like, “Dude, what are you doing?” He has a father that’s trying to protect him, but he doesn’t have any foresight of the situation because he’s listening to his emotions rather than reason.
Q: Throughout Season 2, the characters have all been finding new people, and Chris has stressed the importance of being in a group. Looking back now, was that a risky decision?
A: I think it’s smart to be in a group because they’ll look after you. I think it’s more risky being alone, but I do think it’s wise to be in a group of people that love you and want to protect you rather than being with a bunch like Brandon. Every time I read a script coming in, I was like, “I’m with these douchebags??!” [Laughs]
Q: How would you compare the beginning of the apocalypse to where the characters are now, in terms of decision making and what they’d do to survive?
A: I would say they’ve gone from trying to do what’s good to completely compromising their beliefs. I think everyone at this point, all the characters, have had to compromise something and now they’re dealing with it.
Read an interview with Mercedes Mason, who plays Ofelia Salazar.
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