World Beyond Q&A: How Killing Empties Is a Badge of Honor for Scott Adsit
Scott Adsit, who plays Tony on The Walking Dead: World Beyond, talks about how he was first introduced to The Walking Dead, why his character agreed to go back for Iris and killing empties.
Q: What attracted you to this project?
A: Well, I'm a fan of the comics. And I'm acquainted with Robert Kirkman; we've met each other a few times. But I was reading the comics before it was a TV show, and I really enjoyed that because it was a new take on zombies and how they're handled, and the post-apocalypse treated melodramatically but still very realistically. So I liked the comic a lot. I don't think I ever had an audition for the proper original show, so when I heard that they wanted me to come in for [this show] I was just excited because I'd finally get my chance to be in the universe.
Q: You're known as a comedian. Do you welcome these more dramatic roles when they come along?
A: I've always been a dramatic actor as well. It's just that I started making money as a comedian. I was doing theater and various smaller movie things and then TV and it was a good mix of comedy and drama, but I got known for comedy because I was at the Second City in Chicago, which is a comedy improv theater and so that was kind of my in for several things. But I've been doing theater for years, and not just comedy, but a good amount of drama as well, so I'm used to it. I think of it all as acting anyway, not comedy or drama.
Q: What was it like being surrounded by so many younger people on set?
A: There were some people younger than me who have more experience than me. They're just remarkable people who know what they're doing and could be relied on. It's really kind of fun because they are excited to be there. The whole cast is really into the show, and they're really, really happy with the scripts and their characters and everything they get to do. They're having a really fun time despite all the blood and vitriol, and so it was good to be in an environment where everybody's bright-eyed and happy and enjoying their work. So it's inspiring.
Q: Tony and Percy's grift seems tried and true. Why did Tony deviate from the script and turn back simply because Percy wanted to rescue Iris?
A: I think Tony, his purpose in life now is to make sure Percy's okay, and Percy felt differently about this grift than previous ones, probably because they're people like him instead of the mercenaries we might usually run into. Tony loves Percy and wants him to be happy, and it's a rare thing to see something that inspires happiness in that world, and so, when Percy said let's go back, it was against Tony's better judgment but his love for his nephew won out.
Also, I think Tony wasn't always a con man. I think he was a magician who found a way to survive in this world without his muscles, with his ability to trick people. He still has a good heart. He just hasn't been able to employ it that often, except with Percy. He doesn't trust anybody. Percy trusted someone, so he trusts Percy and they went back.
Q: It seems like Tony and Percy have been on their own for a while. Do you think it will change Tony to be part of a group?
A: Yeah, Tony pretty much had given up on the goodness of man, and survival was it. I think occasionally they would go and entertain people, which they both enjoyed, but the idea of being in a family again was a revelation to Tony and I think he was very happy that he decided to turn that truck back around and run over those empties because, against his better judgment, he was happy to be wrong and he found a place to care about, a group to care about.
Q: You mention running over empties. What was it like to be on the set of a show in The Walking Dead world after reading about it on the page?
A: I was very happy to see that I get to kill a bunch of empties all in one go. I think we did only one take with the running over the head of that empty, which is great for the show, but I really wanted to do it three or four more times, that's for sure. But it's kind of a badge of honor to to kill dead people on any Walking Dead show and so I feel like I've entered a hall of respectability.
Q: The group really seems to respond to the shadow puppet show. Why do you think Tony decided to entertain them at the end of this episode?
A: Because our life is pretty much joyless and survival and, on those rare occasions when we find an encampment where we can entertain, that's great. The fact that we found a bunch of people that we actually care about, and I get to give them what I am proud of in my life, which is entertainment, then there's a real feeling of worth and connection. That's such a rare thing in the post-apocalypse, as we're all finding out.
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