The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live Q&A — Pollyanna McIntosh’s Jadis Is Back and Dogged as Ever

In The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live fans are reunited with Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira as they once again embody their beloved TWD characters Rick and Michonne, and their epic love story continues. Their reunion brings back familiar foes, and in Episode 3 viewers are fully reunited with none other than Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh), now known as CRM Officer Stokes. We had a chance to speak with McIntosh about the return of a shorn Jadis, her epic face offs with Rick, and why Jadis has always been one of the hardest TWDU characters to pin down.
Q: From the moment your epaulets appear at the end of Episode 2, the tension immediately rises because we know Jadis knows. It's clear that she enjoys wielding this power, especially when it comes to Rick. Episode 3 is full of so many amazing Jadis/Rick verbal face offs—what was it like working on those scenes with Andy?  
A: It was so exciting. It was genuinely electrifying. I adore Andy. Working with him as these characters is a very connective experience. We’re eye-to-eye, anything can happen, and each take is different. We're truly jamming off of each other. I could be entirely in character and know exactly who he was in character. We could end each take, look at each other and go, "That was interesting!" He's just in the moment and enjoying it, and he's happy to be there. That felt really cool. He's one of those actors that you're just so grateful to work with, not only for his personality — fans know all about Andy being an extraordinary number one — but also because of how he’s really influenced the culture of the show from the top down.
It's heartbreaking to see Rick under such vulnerable circumstances, and to feel his pain. Jadis knew what a strong man he was. She knows his capacity. It's one of the reasons why she has to screw with him in the way and manipulate him in the way that she does, because he's a genuine danger to her and the position she’s fought for. She really feels she's doing the right thing [with the CRM], and it’s important for her to have a purpose and a stake in the continuation of the world so there's no room for this whole friendship nonsense. Nonetheless there were definitely takes where as Jadis I was feeling Rick’s vulnerability and feeling sorry for him. Feeling bummed really! She’s like “it has to be this way man, but don't make it so difficult.” [Laughs]
I also can’t forget to mention that potentially one of the best one liners in The Walking Dead Universe is uttered in this episode when Rick says to Jadis “You’re a hero with a shit haircut,” and your reaction is this perfect curl of the lips.
[Laughs] I love it. We had such a laugh! We were like, "We've got to get T-shirts made of that."
I mean, if you don't, some fans absolutely will.
As much as I really enjoyed [filming] it it’s probably going to be the bane of my life now. With people shouting at me, "Hey, hero with a shit haircut!" But it's maybe better than, "Where's Rick? Where's Rickkk?!" Now the fans know where Rick is and they can get the satisfaction of this show that they've been waiting for so patiently and for so long. Gosh that was a fantastic line, and I think that was a little addition to the script that came in later. I hadn't seen it in the script, and then when I got some updates, I was like, "Uh oh, this is going to be fun!"
You know when I auditioned for The Walking Dead it was with a haircut that I'd sort of co-created to play a biker gang leader on a film called Revenge Ride. I didn’t have time to change it so I still I had that ridiculous haircut and I thought, "Well, they'll never want to use this, but at least maybe they'll remember me." Then when I got the role of Jadis they said, "No, we'd like you to keep it. And we'll just dirty up the blonde a bit." The number of memes that I've had from The Walking Dead fans, they really made me chuckle! From Dumb and Dumber, to He-ManLittle Lord Fauntleroy, and Lord Farquaad from Shrek. I mean who wore it best? [Laughs]
Jadis is very much her own woman so for The Walking DeadWorld Beyond, I said, "How about we go a bit Joan of Arc with this? She's in the military now. She's a soldier just like Joan of Arc was. She believes she's doing the right thing." I suggested the terrible short bowl cut with the shaved bottom for World Beyond, and I thought, "Well, this'll grow out." It harkens back to Jadis's really short, hard bangs but it’s something different. She's a new person in a new world. Well, I didn't think that three years later, once it'd finally grown out to a bit of a bob, I'd have to cut the bloody thing back up again! [Laughs] I really brought all this upon myself is what I'm saying.
Q: For those of us that watched World Beyond, we know that over the years Jadis has really risen through the ranks of the CRM and loves her role in the organization. Nonetheless, it’s great to get that flashback of her and Rick in Philly at the start of her CRM career. You know Jadis so well at this point it must have been fun to be able to jump around in her timeline and embody these different stages of her evolution.  
A: It was loads of fun. It’s one of those wonderful situations for an actor, and it’s also quite challenging. You’re checking in on where she would be physically, where she would be mentally. She's in this new place and she doesn't fit in yet, and she loves to have her place sorted. She couldn't really find her place in Alexandria. She sure as heck found her place at the Heaps. So, I think with the CRM she's thinking, "Well, I want to make a name for myself here. I want to be safe." I think that's what most people in the apocalypse are looking for is, "I want to be safe. I want to be assured that I can live."
She also holds this almost cultish belief in this organization, so she believes, "We are the last light of the world. We can do all these great things — you’re awesome so you should join us too." Of course, Rick is having none of it. I also think there’s a slightly resentful side of her for everything that happened under him in Alexandria. Fair leader though, he was. She's always been a survivor and now she’s like “Screw you! I'm not going to put myself on the line for you."
I also think her trauma at the Heaps witnessing all of her people's demise has definitely played a role in her psyche. How has she has dealt with that, if at all? I think her attachment to the CRM was born out of that trauma.
I agree with you. She was trying to do something, and she was trying to keep those people safe. For all her swagger, she really cared about her people, and she really cared about what they built together. She felt she could keep them safe. When she realizes she hasn’t kept them safe, I think her trauma then includes a lot of guilt and shame. But she can't afford to feel those things, because if she does how does she survive? So, there's a lot shutoff emotionally there. I think she feels a lot of safety being backed by the power of the CRM and in the feeling of having a place and a purposeful role within that community.  
Q: When we spoke in 2021 for The Walking Dead: World Beyond, we talked about the power of costuming. How did it feel to get back into Jadis’ draconian ensembles and the intensity that comes with them? The physicality of the character is really mesmerizing.  
A: Thank you! It's such great costuming work. It binds you in a certain way and holds you in a certain way where it keeps you upright. It's just so dark, that costume, and it's so protective. It's such a good shell, and it’s a powerful, domineering look. Those big old boots mean business. She wears this and it protects her, the gloves included. She’s kind of a fat cat in the CRM now. She's reaping the benefits. She's drinking the whiskey. She's got all the fringe benefits of her position. And she tosses that around a lot with Rick as well.
Q: There's a lot going on with Jadis in this series, and the back end of the season really shows us how multi-dimensional she is. Out of all The Walking Dead Universe characters she’s always been so hard to pin down—she exists in this strange zone all her own! Both friend and foe, terrifying and vulnerable.
A: That’s a great way to put it. This is the third series for me as Jadis and I feel so lucky. I've had such a time with her. And with these people that we work with since so much of the team got back together for The Ones Who Live. Even Eulyn [Hufkie] who did the original wardrobe designs for The Walking Dead came back to be wardrobe designer on The Ones Who Live. I got to work with [director] Michael Satrazemis again, and [Scott] Gimple, and Andy. Working with Danai [Gurira] being the brilliant, brilliant actor and woman that she is incredible, plus we had all this new awesome cast.
One of the things that has excited me so much about living in this universe and inhabiting her skin, is that there's true nuance there. There’s really an opportunity to play and hopefully express a real human experience because this concept that we're black and white as human beings is just the biggest load of bull. And as you know if you've had any lived experience, you can't judge a book by its cover. If you can look a little deeper, the gray areas are a lot more fun to explore.
Q: As we get into the final two episodes, what are you most excited for long time Jadis fans to experience? 
A: I think I'm most excited for them to have those moments of, "Oh, this is how it's going to go. Oh, hang on a minute." Just like a great comedian does a callback and includes the audience because they've set them up for the joke maybe four jokes back. We've lived with Jadis for so long now, and if you like her and enjoy watching her, even if you like to hate her, I hope and expect that viewers will have the satisfaction of, "Oh, no, she didn't." And then go, "Of course, she bloody did!" She's, like you say, hard to pin down. She likes to switch it up.

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