Sam Underwood, who plays Jake Otto on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about the dire circumstances at Broke Jaw Ranch, Jake’s mental state and Troy’s deadly revenge against the community.
Q: What does the ranch mean to Jake?
A: As of right now, things have definitely changed at the ranch. It’s always been a safe haven and, if it ever needed to be, a place of safety if the end of the world as we know it ever came along – which it has. I think Jake still believes in that but he’s beginning to find out that when the end of the world really does happen, human beings’ basic instincts take over. Not everyone is open to the idea of starting a civilization in a democratic and civilized manner. Animalistic instincts take over. I think he’s working out if that can still be achieved at this place and if the people are willing. He’s beginning to see some of the structure crumbling at the moment.
Q: How does Otto‘s death contribute to Jake’s view of the ranch?
A: His dad was the leader and the founder. I don’t think Jake honestly thinks people are ready for him to be in leadership. He doesn’t particularly believe he is the leader of the ranch. The problem is the only option is his brother and that’s not a good option. Guiding people, taking care of them and winning their trust is not going to be an easy task by any means.
Q: How would you describe Jake and Alicia’s relationship? How do they complement each other given she’s a leader in her own right?
A: Jake sees a leader in Alicia. She’s got a good moral compass, she has an inner light that hasn’t been dampened by the world and she’s very intellectual. They’re very compatible on a companion level, and they’re by no means in love or trying to start a family or anything like that. That’s not where they’re operating from. Companionship, having someone to talk to and having a connection through intimacy – that’s where they are right now. The stress now of the ranch being put into the hands of Jake might potentially test that.
Q: What was your reaction to Jake mentioning running away to his secret cabin “for two?”
A: He’s realized that the ranch is a hopeless venture. People are not going to come together to survive in a way that fits everyone. People are going to take up arms and fight physically for what’s theirs and that’s not how Jake works. He’s scared of losing Alicia and of Alicia being lost in that. That would crush him. The cabin is a safe option for them and he wants to offer survival to her because he doesn’t believe it’ll happen any other way. He deeply cares about her and wants to make sure she’s okay. I think he’s lost all optimism and hope that people are going to band together and make this thing work.
Q: Were you at all surprised at Troy leading a horde right into the ranch or is it a typical “Troy” move? Is Jake surprised?
A: Unfortunately, it’s not surprising. I’ve known what a sociopath he is. This goes beyond the bounds of sociopath, to be honest, and more into psychopath. Jake knows that about his brother and it’s his worst nightmare – that he would do something like that. When he was sent away, my number one concern was that he’d come back with some kind of vengeance and this vengeance fits right into Troy’s wheelhouse. It’s sad that he stooped to this level, but it doesn’t surprise me by any means.
Q: When reading the script, did you have hope that Jake might make it after being bit or were you skeptical given the situation?
A: No one survives being bit… I didn’t think Jake would make it out and he goes pretty quickly.
Q: Any challenges when it came to acting like an Infected?
A: I didn’t really do much choreography work on it because I’m only really lying on my back. I didn’t really have a lot of movement to do. It was really just the idea of struggling with one arm to try to grab anything I could bite and the need to want to eat someone – and funny enough, it’s my brother!
Read a Q&A with Lisandra Tena, who plays Lola.
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