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The Walking Dead Q&A – Alicia Witt (Paula)

Alicia Witt, who plays Paula on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about filming at the Saviors’ slaughterhouse and the eerie connection between Carol and Paula.

Q: You were cast on the show through Scott Gimple, who follows you on Twitter. Can you share some backstory?

A: I got a notification on Twitter that Scott Gimple was following me and I was surprised because I had never met him and I’ve been a huge The Walking Dead fan for a long time. We exchanged direct messages and then an audition for the show came along. It was a monologue for a character called Polly, who was robbing a bank. It didn’t take place in the apocalypse at all. The next night, I heard I got the part and I went to Georgia the next day. When I got the script, I could not believe what I would get to do. It was practically an all kick-ass girl set and Carol has been my favorite character on the show.

Q: You’re very prominent on social media. What has the reaction from the fans been like?

A: It’s been amazing! It’s all becoming a blur right now. The experience I had making this episode was just so magical. I would have been just as thrilled to have the experience with no one else seeing it. I know it might sound ridiculous, but I didn’t give too much thought to the fact that it would be seen by this many people. [Laughs] I haven’t wrapped my head around it. The Walking Dead fans are unlike any other. They can see all the little things that I wasn’t sure would even be visible to anyone else.

Q: What would Paula have tweeted during your episode?

A: [Laughs] I think she would have been very pissed off that people thought someone was pulling one over on her. She would have probably gone into some self-aggrandizing monologue about all the things she has done and all the people she has killed. She’d definitely be one of those people who retweet and yell at anyone who had anything nasty to say about her. That could be a losing battle.

Q: What was the first thing that stood out to you about Paula?

A: How much of her was written on the page. I knew I had only one episode, but I didn’t know what it would be about. I’ve never seen a guest starring role like Paula in my life. She was incredibly fleshed out. I didn’t have to guess what her backstory was. Paula doesn’t know how to let her inner pain come to the surface and let that be present for her. I knew who she was and I just had to figure out what that looked and felt like.

Q: What was it like filming at the Saviors’ slaughterhouse?

A: I had nothing to compare it to. It’s a rare experience to have everything filmed on one stage and it was all taking place on the same day. I loved being there because it felt completely real. I didn’t think of it as a set. You just disappear into that reality and it doesn’t feel like you have to work all that hard. We also filmed in chronological order, which almost never happens. We got to film the kidnapping first and then went all the way through to the very end.

Q: Carol gives Paula a chance to run before she shoots her. Why do you think that is?

A: It’s so complicated. I love that moment. Even though Paula indicated that she intended to kill her, Carol still stands there and begs her to run. She just doesn’t want to kill this woman, but we know Carol is capable of murder and has done it before without hesitating. That speaks volumes about what this odd connection is between them. I felt like it was two different versions of a very similar core being. They both process the apocalypse in extremely different ways. As Paula shares her background, there’s something about Carol that bothers her and she doesn’t know what it is. It’s very familiar and it bugs her.

Watch: Carol and Maggie face off against their Savior counterparts.

Q: What was the hardest thing about filming the scene where you’re eaten by a walker?

A: Most of the work was really on the walker in that scene, whose name is Chris. He had to use his real teeth to dig into the prosthetics! The hardest thing about it was really just trusting that he wouldn’t bite my actual skin. I could feel the blood just filling up my boots. Every bit of clothing I had on was soaked. I certainly felt like my time on the show had come to a triumphant end. [Laughs]

Q: If you could assemble your own team to survive the apocalypse, which The Walking Dead characters would you pick (dead or alive)?

A: Carol is a given. Also, Rick, Daryl and — if I could have gotten to him earlier — The Governor. I think he had the right idea, but then he just morphed into a maniac along the way. If I could have the brains and the brawn of The Governor, I might pick him.

Read an interview with Lauren Cohan, who plays Maggie Greene.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Get show updates by signing up for Dead Alert.

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