Paul Calderon, who plays Alejandro on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about what the dead mean to La Colonia and his character’s dynamic with Luciana and Nick.
Q: How would you describe Alejandro’s relationship with the dead?
A: La Colonia views the dead as something that is integral to their existence. They don’t separate themselves from the dead because it is something that is essential, vital and to be respected. That’s very different than the westernized way of viewing death. Many viewers think they’re sacrificing townspeople… but it’s not that. Once they’re infected, they willingly give themselves up to the dead to sustain themselves. It’s almost like a curveball because all of a sudden, we’re sustaining the dead… We separate them and we create a wall to protect us, but they’re there. They’re a constant reminder that La Colonia and the dead are – more or less – one.
Q: What do you make of Alejandro’s relationship with Luciana? Is it paternal?
A: It’s totally paternal. She’s very strong and very vital. She’s like his right-hand man, so to speak, and there’s total respect. The love they have for one another is a tough love.
Q: What about Nick? Alejandro gives him a private trailer to and seems to like him: What does Alejandro see in him?
A: Well, he sees potential and he sees a survivor. From what Luciana told Alejandro, Nick was walking with the dead – which no one does – and he survived some really terrible things. As Alejandro’s training him, he sees track marks on his arms and knows he was an addict. Nick is very strong and there’s an opportunity to have someone else by Alejandro’s side that he can trust with the safety and future of La Colonia.
Q: When you first read the script, did you immediately think Alejandro’s effect on La Colonia was about true leadership and faith or just power and control?
A: I don’t think he’s a control freak. I think he has to control what he has, but he’s not into power for the sake of power. I truly believe that Alejandro’s relationship with La Colonia is one of survival and giving himself to keep everyone safe. It’s going to be his way – the best way he feels – and he’s going to do whatever it takes. It’s not that he’s doing it for himself. He’s doing it for the overall good of La Colonia.
Q: We’ve learned Alejandro has been lying about surviving a bite and we also saw him pretending to administer medicine to a resident. Is this a reflection on how important faith is to him?
A: Yeah. Faith is belief. In one scene, he does tell Nick that the medicine he was administering was nothing. It wasn’t the real thing, but he needs the people to believe that there is another day. He has to instill that in the people because if not, total despair will descend and he can’t allow that. He’ll do whatever it takes to keep the community going day by day.
Q: Though Marco and his gang are coming to take over La Colonia, Alejandro still wants everyone to stay even though he’s clearly bit. Is his faith putting residents in danger?
A: Once someone faces mortality – even someone who considers themselves great – it changes things. I think there’s a battle with faith once he faces his own mortality. There’s a great battle that rages inside of him. Does he succumb to that or rise above that? In the final episode, I believe we see him rising above it, though there are moments of despair and moments of him on the cusp of just surrendering and giving up on everything.
Q: What did you think about Alejandro’s actions in the Season 2 Finale when he sets the Infected free on Marco and the gang? Was it his final act of love for La Colonia?
A: Previously, we see Nick shoot him with Oxycontin and just before he nods out, he says something to the effect that he can die a brilliant death. I think they decide that Nick, Luciana and the rest of La Colonia will take off, and Alejandro will remain and sacrifice himself so they can have enough time to go. He knows he’s going to die. It’s not black or white. There is a sense of “I can die a hero,” but he could have easily said, “The hell with it. Just kill me.” He decides to do a final act that can possibly save those who survived – and he does.
Q: How were you able to relate to your character? Did you see any of yourself in him?
A: There was a constant uncovering of dynamics as I went along with the character – things that were revealed to me that I didn’t even know were there – because I kept myself open to them. It was a great tennis game, a give and take, and a constant exploration of this complex character. I described him as very mercurial in the sense that if you pour mercury in a hot pan, it’s going to go everywhere and be forever shifting and changing. From my perspective, you could never get a handle on who this guy was. In one episode, he’s this and in the next one, he’s that. He was always changing.
Read an interview with Lorenzo James Henrie, who plays Chris Manawa.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. To stay up-to-date with the latest news, join the Fear the Walking Dead Insiders Club