Maggie Grace, who plays Al on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about filming an Al-centric episode and her character’s strides in opening up to the group.
Q: This episode is all about Al and Isabelle. What do you walk away with when you get to film an episode almost exclusively about your character?
A: This was like shooting a movie — albeit one on a tight schedule. It was a really exciting opportunity to delve into the character and to break open into the wider world of The Walking Dead mythology, too.
Q: Just as Al and Isabelle have to learn to trust each other in order to survive that task together, what was it like filming it with Sydney Lemmon?
A: She got the script on the plane here and came into this challenging episode in such a game-on way. That was impressive. I liked her immediately. We had a great time.
Q: Did any of that play into the dynamic of the characters as well ?
A: Sure. Our characters are taking things moment by moment and watching each other like hawks… She’s such a genuine what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of person. It’s easy to respect someone like that quite quickly .
Q: What makes Al tell Isabelle the story about her brother ? What does she see in her that makes her feel safe?
A: Well, she doesn’t really have a choice. The jig is up. It feels anything but safe — it’s something she carries a lot of regret and shame about — but Isabelle has also chosen to place calling above people. She values this organization above her own life and follows its directives even at great personal cost.
Q: Isabelle tells Al that her group is working to “rebuild a future.” We don’t know much about her mysterious mission, but what is Al taking in?
A: This is radical hope for Al — that somewhere humanity is not just continuing, but thriving. Clearly, they have some advanced technology to address the problems of the apocalypse… maybe even to solve them. Al is thinking big here. This network could hold the secret to the survival of the species.
Q: How does it land on Al to share such an intimate, albeit short, experience with Isabelle and then part ways?
A: In that moment, it feels like she’s walking into the future and Althea is trapped in the past. It’s like all of the sudden, after a hundred years, she feels truly alive, but must give that up. A gut-wrenching choice, but the one that preserves everyone’s safety — Isabelle’s, Althea’s and the lives of her group. It will be hard for Al to live with this knowing of what’s out there — a person like this. She has not felt this alive since her brother died. And also knowing this wider world [and] this organization exists. It really costs them both to walk away. Al’s changed irrevocably by this encounter.
Q: Any thoughts on why Al doesn’t tell Morgan and the group about Isabelle when she’s reunited with them?
A: Al can’t risk their lives by sharing the information. That was a major component in the final agreement she struck with Isabelle, though I suspect it will be tough to live with every day.
Q: What was your reaction to her telling the group her last name and a little bit about her parents?
A: It’s a rather fun note and the first time Al’s opened up at all. I think the encounter with Isabelle really cracked Al open. So much of the stakes in the negotiations with Isabelle were about protecting Al’s group from Isabelle’s organization and getting them a ride out of this place. It made her realize how much she cares about the group that she can risk connection with them.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c.
Read an interview with Colman Domingo, who plays Strand.
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