Aaron Stanford, who plays Jim on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about what his character’s beer recipe represents for the future and how Jim redeems himself.
Q: What interested you about joining the show and the character of Jim?
A: The character itself looked like a ton of fun. It’s the type of character that I don’t think we’ve seen before on either The Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead. He’s unique in that he’s been somewhat protected from the ravages of the apocalypse. He’s been hiding out in his brewery and occasionally going out to scavenge for things. He’s been consumed by this quest to brew the perfect beer and thereby start society on the long climb back to civilization. I also love that he’s the polar opposite of a lot of the heroic characters you see in these types of shows. He’s wrapped up in himself. I think of himself as the Cartman of Fear the Walking Dead. [Laughs]
Q: At first, Jim doesn’t offer the group much physical help. What does it mean to him when he kills a walker in Episode 14?
A: Being the kind of person he is, Jim goes from absolute terror to suddenly being certain that he’s possibly the best walker killer to ever live. [Laughs] It’s a pretty fast turn. You see him screaming and shrieking on the floor of the hospital with the walker on top of him and when he finally manages to stumble his away through his first kill, he immediately turns cocky. I enjoyed that.
Q: What was it like for you, personally?
A: From an actor’s perspective, it was interesting. It was the first real close encounter I had with one of the walkers. What I came to learn is that they try to make each of the walkers as unique as they possibly can and give them some sort of specific detail to make them their own character. The physical detail of mine was that he turned into a walker during a brain surgery, so he has a flap of skin hanging off his head and there’s a piece of skull attached to that, which gives Jim the perfect opportunity to give him enough brain trauma to kill him. I thought that was really cool. They use those physical cues to make each of these walkers into their own unique character.
A: He blames him for everything. Morgan is the leader and the one calling the shots. As irritating as Jim is… if you go back and pay attention, Jim is right every single time he says something and whenever he makes an exception and tells Morgan, “Hey, we shouldn’t do that” or “we shouldn’t go in that direction.” It just comes out of frustration that he’s been telling them the whole time what the right thing to do is and nobody listens. Morgan puts them in this position where everybody’s life is in danger.
Q: What did you think of Jim’s sacrifice when you read about it in the script? Does it beat urinating on walkers?
A: [Laughs] Does it?! I don’t know. I’d prefer urinating on walkers to jumping off the building and breaking my neck. It’s a great sacrifice. When I read the script, it was a huge relief that they gave Jim this moment of redemption… When you’re working on a character, it’s your job to find humanity in that character and what’s likable or something you can relate to. As irritating as Jim is, it was my job to root for him. So, to actually see his better qualities in the end and see him actually do the right thing when it counted, I thought that was the best possible way to go out.
Q: Was it a way for Jim to leave behind a legacy? Does leaving behind his beer recipe also symbolize hope and the promise of rebuilding the world?
A: Absolutely. That recipe is his baby. In a way, it’s his DNA in that beer recipe. In giving it to Sarah, I think that’s his way of living on and to hopefully make some sort of contribution towards society getting back on its feet.
Read an interview with Tonya Pinkins, who plays Martha.
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