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 1, we meet Joe (Terry Crews) and Evie (Olivia Munn) whose paths fatefully intersect, leading them to embark on an epic road trip with unusual twists and turns along the way. In this interview with amc.com, we speak with Terry Crews about his love for The Walking Dead Universe, the joy of working with his longtime friend Olivia Munn, and what kinds of adventures he envisions for Joe and Evie if their story were to continue.
Q: When we first meet Joe, he’s doing alright with his best buddy Gilligan. It’s really Gilligan’s death that prompts him to leave his compound. What did you love about Joe when you first read the script—and are you a dog guy too?
A: Oh absolutely! My wife and I have ‘his and her’ dogs. We have a dog who looks like me. He's a Pitbull mix named Jasper. He's a tough guy. Then we have a little bitty Havanese, little Lola, and she looks just like my wife! They are family members. The first thing I do in the morning is take my Jasper for a walk and we have our time together. That’s why I totally got the relationship between Joe and Gilligan.
One thing is clear in The Walking Dead Universe, humans can betray you. That's the deal. But a dog is always, always going to be your friend. It'll die for you. I don't think there's another animal in the world that has been that tied to humanity. So, when Joe loses Gilligan, he’s also lost connection with himself. The only way you know who you are is in your relationships to other people and other things, right? So Joe has to get contact with another living thing. Gilligan’s death finally digs him out of his bunker, and he has to go find at least another person to share his life with.
I think it's a brilliant, brilliant story. The thing I love about The Walking Dead is that they really get into the psychology of it all a lot. My question's always been, "What would I do if I was in this situation or that situation?" And these scenarios never stop, especially in the apocalypse, which is beautiful.
Q: It’s so cool because the timing of your story is at around 400 days into the apocalypse, which puts you square in Walking Dead Season 1 territory. What was your connection to The Walking Dead Universe before joining this project? Were you a fan of any of the shows or had you read any of the graphic novels?
A: I didn’t read the graphic novels, but I’m way into the show. Seeing Andrew Lincoln waking up in that hospital — I was hooked. Hooked! I'll never forget him and Shane in their police car just talking and then all of a sudden, the world was like, "What has happened?!" That hospital, everything about how that world was built was perfect. It was like, "Oh my God, this is really happening!" It felt like it was happening as you watched it. The world is so brilliantly crafted and created. They introduce new characters one at a time and you met people you loved, people you hated.
Michael Rooker is a good friend of mine, he was in the early episodes as Merle, Daryl's brother, and Michael taught me how to act. I have to tell you this. We did a movie called The Sixth Day. It was my first movie of all time and he's so brilliant. It's one of those things where at first you hate Merle. You hate Merle! But then all of a sudden, episodes later, you're like, "Merle, I love you!" Like, Merle was not as bad as you thought! This is the thing about humanity, and this is what the show gets into. You could be a villain and then all of a sudden, you're the hero.
I wanted to hate Eugene for lying because he brings so much hope with his lies. Eugene has the answer. He knows everything. He's going to tell it and they will find an answer and the cure! And he's been lying the whole time. Or even when you get into it with Tyreese, who I love. When Tyreese and Carol go back and when Lizzie killed Mika. The little girls! The other thing that The Walking Dead does so well is exploring the mental health of people in situations like this. You will literally lose grip on reality. I mean look at the long-term effects of the pandemic. I think we still are going to be dealing with mental health issues for a long, long time because we're not meant to be separated like this. I remember after 9/11 I was scared. It was one of those things – “is the world ever going to get back to normal?” Then I felt like that with the pandemic. This is unprecedented. Are we ever going to be able to walk outside again? Believe me, the first time the pandemic hit, all I could think about was The Walking Dead.
But you know, we can adapt to anything. That is the fact. We can adapt. Like I said, if we actually did work together, we could handle the dead. We can really live and do it. The problem is, who will betray you? It's the living that I have a problem with. It's always somebody who's trying to one-up another person. Someone's taking power. I look back at the early days of the Governor. Dude, come on! You could have had a utopia. You could have survived. But it's always like that little taste of power, it corrupts.
Q: When Joe first meets Evie, he's obviously not feeling her. But things really change once they fight the walkers at their campsite one night and they step in to help each other survive. That initial banter between you and Olivia Munn is so acerbic. It's so great. But then it gets really tender and serves the best sort of buddy caper movie vibes you could possibly imagine. Can you talk a bit about working with Olivia and how you created this magical friendship on-screen?
A: Olivia is so beautiful and so amazing. We did The Newsroom years ago on HBO with Aaron Sorkin and we had the same rhythm, the same kind of friendship on screen. It was really cool. To be reunited with her and start to open that up in a different world in a whole different scenario was amazing because we've been friends for years. When I got the role, I got a text from her, like, "Hey Joe!" And I went, "Wait a minute, how do you even know that?" And she's like, "I'm Evie!" I was like, "What?" Let me tell you, she is a consummate professional, she built her character from the ground up.
You have to understand that Joe is a survivor. He's like, "I'm going to make it when no one else is." And he literally, first minute out, he's in a net! You can imagine the frustration. He's like, "I've been out here maybe a day and a half and I'm already in a trap!" So he could try to present himself to Evie as this tough guy, but I think, even in Joe's head, he's like, "Man, it could have been much worse. Someone could have killed me." The fact that he ran into her was a blessing. It could have been a lot worse for Joe and I think even he realizes that. Once they open up to each other and fight the walkers together, it's like, "We're a team now." It's so beautiful!
Q: To say that Joe's interactions with Sandra are a disappointment is an understatement. There's some serious stunts and physicality to those scenes, including the dosed brownie experience. What was it like filming on the set of that Blade Runner-esque, underground bunker from hell?
A: Oh man, Sandra – she's the essence of being catfished! I mean half the internet is not real. That's the problem. These scenarios that we can build up in our head never really match real life. It's so wild that Joe accuses Evie of living in a fantasy world, but the one who's in a fantasy world was Joe himself. He had given Sandra this status that she didn't really deserve, and when he finally met her, it was like, "Oh my God, all my dreams have come true," but it was exactly the opposite.
The cool thing about The Walking Dead world, and particularly this episode, that I think is so brilliant is it really sets Joe and Evie up so beautifully. It sets up the tone and the arc and this beautiful friendship, but we all know that they have much darker days ahead of them. Anytime you have any hope or anybody smiles in the world of The Walking Dead, look out! Look out because things are about to get really hairy very fast. And I think what's so brilliant is that they left it where it's almost a hopeful ending. I’m really looking forward to the day, if I get to, to finish Joe's story, but in a much darker scenario, because remember it's still early in the apocalypse and things are yet to get really twisted.
Q: We have all this amazing nomenclature to name the undead and, in your episode, "deadeyes" and "toe tags" are used. Obviously, we have the O.G. "walkers." We have "empties" from World Beyond. What was the most exciting part of entering this Universe for you? And yeah, if Joe and Evie were to get a spin-off, where would you want to see their adventure heading?
A: I love the fact that we entered in early Universe times, because one thing that's so good about this world is that it hops around. They’re all very non-linear series. I remember when we jumped back with Michonne to her in her apartment, hanging with the guys. It was like, "Whoa! Where did that come from?" I'll never forget – she went from having two walkers chained to her and walking around with her katana to making food in the kitchen. You're like, "Whoa! They had lives." Even with Samantha Morton and the way they touch on her history in Tales, before she was Alpha, I'm going "Whoa!" This means I could be put somewhere in this world. Could it be with Sasha and Tyreese? Or maybe Andrea or Abraham. I could be running around with Abraham! Who knows? We could have a whole thing that happens with Abraham before they run into The Saviors. That’s what I think is so brilliant. They made a world that could go in any direction, which is kind of like the real world. And now that Rick and Michonne are back, oh my God! It re-energizes the whole thing. Rick Grimes is 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.