Kevin Zegers, who plays Mel on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about the Vultures’ moral code and why it’s so hard to hate his character.
Q: It’s kind of hard to hate Mel. What’s the trick to developing a charming villain?
A: I’m a flawed human being, and I like the nooks and crannies of people. For me to pull something off, I have to imagine. I don’t know how I would behave if everything turned upside down. I’d like to imagine I would be a dignified human being, but I don’t know… Just because someone’s behaving badly doesn’t mean they can’t be charming, interesting, smart, crafty and all those things… There’s nothing interesting to me about playing a guy who comes in beating his chest and is so clearly the villain.
Q: The Vultures don’t really use violence as a threat. Do they see themselves as good guys simply delivering the bad news to their victims?
A: Is a guy who buys a business that is going out of business, for less than it’s probably worth, a really sh—tty guy? It’s gray, to me. It’s not totally the best thing in the world, but that’s how people… figure out a way to survive. I don’t think they morally feel horrible about it. It would be horrible if they just killed everybody and came in and took all their stuff. The reason why I think people have a hard time hating Mel is because he is genuinely giving them an option. He and Madison start to develop a rapport and I think he’s genuine. You don’t have to die…. He’s totally willing to allow them another option and for that reason, he’s able to justify it. It’s a simple, transactional kind of thing.
Q: Episode 7 was such a huge episode. What was your biggest takeaway?
A: Yeah, 7 was a really big episode! It’s the episode where you get to know more about Mel and he’s a little more in your face. The thing I took away from 7, more than anything, was that his love for Charlie makes him ultimately redeeming. While he’s manipulating this girl, he ultimately loves her. Whatever his situation was in the past, that’s what’s driving him – to take care of this little girl and whatever his fantasy is of having a family and somehow getting through this. It was a crazy episode. There was a ton of stuff. It was full on. And then obviously at the end, I get a spike through the head! [Laughs]
Q: Was Madison‘s stadium society ultimately a victim of her own stubbornness or did she hold her ground right until the end?
A: I think she’s committed. This is the only way that she sees forward. Mel obviously doesn’t agree and he knows what’s going to happen… This is the only life she sees worth living, which is a life of creating a place of peace. She’s done with what we’re doing, which is running around and just getting by… Ultimately, that’s what cost her.
Q: How did you enjoy telling the story through flashbacks and playing with time as an element?
A: As an actor, it’s a little complicated… Most of my stuff is flashbacks, so I think it was easier for us. I got to stay in the past until we ultimately see each other again when Alicia puts an end to Mel… As a storytelling device, I think it’s incredible. Alycia [Debnam-Carey] and Colman [Domingo] are carrying all this stuff that’s happened after Nick has died… When you’re shooting it, it’s so chaotic and you don’t really know what it’s going to look like. I’ve been so impressed by what I’ve seen.
Q: Any thoughts on Madison’s recurring motto of “no one’s gone until they’re gone?”
A: I don’t think we’re the worst of us or the best of us. As human beings, we’re all capable of doing good and bad. I think the good people do more good things than bad things and bad people give into the bad stuff more. I like the premise that nobody is black or white. We all live in that gray area. Who knows what behavior can be judged by others as good or bad. We’re all just plugging along.
Read an interview with Jenna Elfman, who plays Naomi.
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