Tales of the Walking Dead features six original life-or-death, high-stakes stories of survival with an all-star cast of both new and familiar characters set against the undead apocalypse. In Episode 3, we meet a new community leader named Brooke, and we get to know the group of survivors that live on her boat… including a woman named Dee who looks very familiar. In this interview with amc.com, we speak with Lauren Glazier about Brooke’s motivations to survive, her relationship with Dee’s daughter Lydia, and her epic face off with Dee at the end of the episode. [Stay tuned for our interview with Samantha Morton aka Dee… aka Alpha later this week.]
Q: According to Dee, Brooke is delusional for encouraging an unrealistic lifestyle for everyone on the boat, including Lydia. What did you think of Brooke when you first read the script and what drew you to her as a character?
A: The thing I really appreciated about Brooke is that there's so much going on in her world that she has to compartmentalize some things to get through. She’s not naive. She's really strong, and she's really smart. She’s trying to create this place where you can still exist with some joy in the world and a sense of normalcy. For me, it was really cool that she wasn't acting like a victim or a tyrant. She was really just trying to have everyone work together, and I liked that. I would love it if people could get together a little bit more in the world and find more common ground. I think that's what Brooke is fighting for. I felt like she was doing her best with what she had and survival to her meant that there was still joy and hope—those are her reasons for survival. Otherwise, what's the point of staying alive in this insane world where people are getting massacred?
Q: It’s definitely a different point of view from many characters that we already know in The Walking Dead Universe.
A: Yeah, she's optimistic. What I really love too is that she doesn't hate anyone. She really tries to understand people and see where they're coming from. That’s the dynamic between her and Dee, she really doesn't hate her. She's just at this breaking point with her where she's like, "Seriously, I'm giving you this chance to be a part of this thing and you just keep fighting it." And she's never outright mean to her or intentionally trying to sabotage Dee. She's tried her best to work together, and at the point where we find them, she’s really just keeping Dee on board for Lydia.
Q: Were you familiar with all the aspects of The Walking Dead Universe before joining the project? What did you know about Alpha and how did it feel to be part of what feels like an Alpha prequel?
A: I was a fan of the show when it started. I loved the pilot so much and I watched it for several seasons, and then life got in the way and I kind of lost track. Everything was super top secret with this, down to my audition. I said "yes" when I saw Samantha Morton's name, without hesitation. Of course, it's a really cool world. I always thought “there's great actors, there's great storylines, they created this incredible universe.” I saw Sam's name and I just jumped at the opportunity to work with her. Then when I got the scripts, I was so excited because our story is within that world that I knew that I was a fan of, but yet it's its own unique thing.
I went back into the series and found Alpha's story and started again with her. That’s when I was like, "Oh my God, this character's incredible!" What a villain, but also what an opening story for her. Of course, I then got a deeper understanding, the more I watched, and the more I read about how the fans feel about her. What an amazing character within that world, and I was just super honored and tickled to join Alpha's journey and meet her at the place that we find her in this story. It's such a turning point for her, obviously, and it was really cool to be a part of that transition in Dee where she goes to the dark side. I'm a huge fan of what she did with that character and after watching those episodes of The Walking Dead with her, I was like, "Oh my God, I'm so grateful to be able to work with her." But, my God, is it scary to be on the other side of her! Scary to be on the other side of those eyes and that quiet. Not a lot of words, but a lot of power. It was really cool to work with her in that character.
Q: Like you said, Brooke, like many of the leaders that we've seen in The Walking Dead Universe, is trying to create a sense of normalcy within her community by hearkening back to activities that remind everyone of the before times. She's obviously a very capable leader. She’s described as someone who worked at a gym as an instructor, and that her overconfidence leads to her downfall. What did you know about her background before the fall?
A: Some of the conversations I had with Channing [Powell, showrunner & EP] and Michael [Satrazemis, director & EP] were really cool. I got a script before I came to Atlanta, but I went straight into it having to just fill in basically everything myself and hope that we were on the same page. The coolest thing was that Channing is just so awesome and collaborative, that we didn't even have to hash it out. We all were like, "Yes! Exactly! Yes! Right! Yes!" So that's huge kudos to her writing. I just think we were on the same page from go. We exchanged some emails, but for me it was just going off everything I got from the script.
I think the fitness instructor thing plays into it. You know how people are more than just a fitness instructor? They're motivational or they're life coaches. I think she found herself in that realm because of some of the hardships that she struggled with in her early life. That's why I love her because she's not naive. She's been through some shit in her life. She happens to be physically fit and strong, and probably had to go through some stuff as a kid. I have this whole backstory I wrote down for her. By the time the apocalypse hit she had already changed her mindset, so she was the perfect person to come into this situation. She thinks "I know life's hard, I'm not naive, shit is crazy out there, but what I'm going to try to do for these people what I had to do by myself for myself when I was younger. I want to show this little girl, Lydia. I want to show her that life doesn't have to be like this."
Yes, this world, with the dead and everything that comes with that is overwhelming, but because of who she was before this all happened, she's able to be level-headed and a great leader while also being kind and inclusive. She's the leader on the boat, but there's also a team of people that she works with, and they together make this work. It’s all built on trust and on looking out for each other. She was that person before, and it's the total opposite of Dee. Brooke came into it like "we can do this, we can overcome this or at least work within this world." I remember I wrote down "structure, safety, celebration, ceremony – they give us hope, the hope gives us joy, the joy gives us energy, energy gives us the strength to survive in this crazy world." That's her mantra. What's cool about Brooke's arc is that she's able to maintain that through this crazy thing they all went through, but then near the end of the episode, she's broken. Her life before didn't break her, the zombies didn't break her, but freaking Dee… that whole situation took her down.
Q: It's interesting to hear you talk about her and her arc. Kindness is often something that we don’t see in The Walking Dead Universe. When we see kindness, it really sticks out.
A: I think that's so important for her because it's a unique thing that I want to see more of in the world. I'm not naive to think "oh, you can just be like peace and love," but there is something to be said for not always having to see horrific villains or pathetic victims. She lies in this middle ground that we don't get to see often, and I love Channing [Powell] for creating that character.
Q: Brooke's relationship with Lydia is definitely an interesting one. In Dee's eyes, Brooke has overstepped her boundaries, but Lydia really looks to Brooke as a role model. What are your thoughts on Lydia and Brooke's relationship?
A: I think Brooke probably always wanted to be a parent. They came across this little girl and Dee, and she saw the spirit and hope in her eyes. She wanted to just give her something that she couldn't give to her own kids, the ones she never got the opportunity to have or couldn't. I think that Lydia represents hope and Lydia keeps Brooke fighting. Brooke sees this little girl and goes, "This can't just be it. If she's going to be alive, we're going to give her the best experience we can." Having Lydia on the boat helps fuel Brooke in such a big way. They've bonded in a way that her little smile and her bravery give Brooke strength, and Brooke wants to show her what life can still be within this terror of the world.
It's not hard to find that feeling with what's going on for women right now in the world. You want to give young girls some hope, because it's so easy to get down. I think for Brooke to have Lydia there and there's just such a darkness to Dee, I think Brooke is the light for her and kids are always drawn to the light. Brooke gets to be that for her and that's what the other people see around her. I think Brooke would die for her. She'd die for anyone on the boat, but Lydia is this beacon of hope for her and she's this strong, brave little girl within all of this. Brooke wants to give her everything she can.
Q: I think Lydia's fear of Dee draws her to Brooke as well.
A: 100%. She sees this strong light. There's strength in her, but also there's a lightness. Whereas Dee's kind of the opposite of that. But I do love that, and I hope it comes across that Brooke is not trying to provoke Dee through Lydia. She's not trying to be spiteful or mean-spirited or rub it in. It would almost be like divorced parents, and Brooke is really trying to keep things civil and they're kind of sharing the responsibility of this little girl. Obviously, Dee is allowing her to go off with Brooke and do things. But it was important to me that they have this dynamic where Brooke really isn't trying to rub it in. She's trying to work within it. Dee is on the boat only because of Lydia, but she's also not kicking her off the boat and saying, "Lydia's mine." She's trying to be diplomatic. That's what I love about her too. It's not these two women fighting over this kid. It's these two humans who are just so different trying to allow the other person space, but it's just not happening for Dee, and Brooke's patience is wearing thin with Dee.
Q: When disaster strikes on the boat and the entire crew is decimated, somehow Brooke survives long enough to have this final face-off with Dee. As we discussed, Lydia seems to be the point of contention between them. Their face-off becomes deeper and more brutal by the second. Brooke's still alive, but she's been branded by Dee. If she were to pop up again in The Walking Dead Universe, how do you think this experience will have changed her?
A: Oh, massively. This is her rebirth in how she sees the world. Dee got to her. It could be very layered. It maybe doesn't happen right away, but this branding, this scar, this is a change in Brooke. She probably thought she would die at some point, but I don't think she thought it would be like this. I love the scar that Dee gives her. I love that she did that. Just as a fan of reading the script, I was like, "Oh God, that's a great moment!" Obviously, I would love for Brooke to pop back up. What a cool birth of a character, because, to me, that's the beginning of Brooke's next chapter, in a very different way. And I could be wrong on this, but I feel like there's a submission to Dee or to the darkness in that moment.
There were different choices that Brooke could have made there, but I feel like she submits to Dee. Dee being the darkness of what's happening and the pain she’s inflicting. That's why she's screaming. But she's Dee's now, in a way, if that makes sense. It doesn't necessarily mean that she's Dee's and she's going to follow Dee and be a fan or a sycophant. It could be she's Dee's in the way that a vampire makes someone. She's taken that light and hope and slashed her across the face and left her with like, "Where do you go from here?" Dee will always be with her, and it would be really cool to see where that character could go.
Q: It almost feels like this is the birth of potentially another villain!
A: I sure hope so. It's just such a cool moment, whether it was me or someone else, and I'm so incredibly grateful it was me. What a cool moment for a character!
Q: Well, if you're not definitely dead, you could always pop up again in The Walking Dead Universe.
A: I loved every single part of this experience. It was one of the best working experiences of my career. It was so fun! The whole crew, the cast, such great people. You can just tell it's a well-oiled machine and everybody loves the world they're working in. I'm just grateful to have been a part of it. I'm really crossing my fingers — I'd love to bring Brooke back.
New episodes of Tales of the Walking Dead air on Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Full episodes are available to stream on amc.com (with a cable provider login), the AMC apps for mobile and devices, and a week early on AMC+. AMC+ is available at amcplus.com or through the new AMC+ app available on iPhone, iPad, Android, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Roku. AMC+ can also be accessed through a variety of providers, including AppleTV, Prime Video Channels, DirectTV, Dish, Roku Channel, Sling, and Xfinity. Sign up for AMC+ now.