Rubén Blades, who plays Daniel Salazar on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about his character’s return and the unfinished business he has with Strand.
Q: Daniel is back! At WonderCon, you joked about Daniel being much like a cockroach in that he’s hard to kill. What would have to happen to actually take Daniel out?
A: He would do it himself, if it came to that, but when he finds a purpose to go on, he becomes a tough one to track. I guess only the unexpected would beat him. I hoped he would return, but I was not 100 percent sure.
Q: A lot has changed on the show since we’ve last saw your character! What was it like getting back into the swing of things?
A: I understand Salazar and this helps me to get back on track. There’s an emotional connection that allows me to return to his world instantly. It’s a joy as an actor to be able to play such a complex human being. I look forward to it.
Q: Daniel and Strand have had quite the precarious relationship. How would you describe it?
A: Salazar respects Strand’s abilities, but also recognizes the danger he represents because of his selfishness and self-interest. He is, as past experience shows, untrustworthy. Salazar will never let his guard down around him.
Q: What is it like for Daniel to have the upper hand/something that Strand desperately needs when they reunite ?
A: He always feels he has the upper hand because he has dealt with these types before. He couldn’t care less what Strand wants. He got info from him — intel that may or may not be accurate. After that, he got rid of him because he does not trust him.
Q: Strand believes a man can change, but Daniel believes that’s only true for some. What is it about Strand that Daniel can’t see past?
A: He used Daniel by lying about knowing the whereabouts of Ofelia. He betrayed Salazar and the others by bringing a gang into the dam, which resulted in the death of Daniel’s friends. He tried to kill him. What is there to make Daniel trust Strand? He betrays whenever it suits him. Daniel hasn’t seen anything yet that can make him change his appreciation of Victor Strand.
Q: Showrunner Ian Goldberg mentioned Season 5 will explore Daniel’s journey since we last saw him. What’s it been like for you constantly meeting so many versions of your character?
A: Fun! It is fun to explore and to discover, as an actor, different facets of the character. Daniel is evolving and so is everyone else. That makes it all interesting. As the series goes on, people are faced with different challenges. Those who adapt, make it. Daniel is a survivor.
Q: How has Daniel changed since fans first met him in his barber shop?
A: Life was orderly then. He could exercise control over events, at will. He pretty much was in charge. Now, he is forced to react most of the time, and to deal with people whose motives may be hidden and to compete with them for limited resources.
Q: The group has devoted their life to helping others this season. Is that a mission Daniel can get behind?
A: He needs a purpose to exist. Helping others seems as good a reason as any. He knows Griselda and Ofelia would have approved of this.
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