Bailey Gavulic, who plays Annie on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about what makes her character a leader and how the walkers on set left her speechless.
Q: What interested you most about joining Fear the Walking Dead?
A: It’s really a unique and special show. The stakes are high. It’s such an extreme threat. All of that creates some really wonderful and intense moments that you might not get somewhere else. Getting to join a universe that’s so highly regarded and supported was also really incredible.
Q: What about Annie, specifically? Did anything stand out to you right away about the character?
A: I really loved how protective and driven she was. It takes a lot of strength to be thrust into responsibility during moments like that… It’s the biggest thing she’s held onto because she’s had to grow up so fast to survive. I think that’s why she sometimes goes to extremes, but she’s very strong and capable and resilient. They’ve made it this far, so she’s done a good job. [Laughs]
Q: What was it like establishing that close sibling connection with Cooper Dodson and Ethan Suess as new characters on the show? How did you enjoy changing up the dynamic of the show a bit?
A: I love Ethan and Cooper. We got along right away, from the beginning. I don’t have brothers or even younger siblings. It was really special for me to get to build that relationship. We spent time together and went to the mall and to go play laser tag. They might tell you differently, but I won! Just saying. As far as the dynamic, I think it was really refreshing. You have this incredible cast who play all these strong and driven characters and then they encounter this group of kids and it’s a game changer for them. It’s the apocalypse, but you have these kids you run into and maybe they’re meeting them with a little bit of stubbornness… We’re so adamant that we don’t want their help and they’re so adamant about wanting to give it.
Q: Annie is very protective of her group and often refuses to risk her own life to save strangers. So, what is it like for her once she meets Alicia’s group, who seems to be the exact opposite?
A: I think it’s hard for her to embrace that. To an extent, she gets it. She understands protecting your group, but it’s hard for her to accept actively putting yourself in danger to help others. She’s desperately trying to keep her family and friends alive. She has her hands full and the only way she’s made it work is by following her rules, which include not mixing with strangers and not putting yourself in danger.
Q: What was it like learning more about Annie’s backstory in Episode 6 and where her rules stem from?
A: It was so special. I was so moved when I read that episode. It really changes things from being a young person who is refusing help to really letting her be vulnerable and share that she’s not just stubborn or obnoxious. She has her reasons. Before we shot that episode, I knew we were on our own and our parents weren’t in the picture, but I had no idea what a tragic story it was… Annie is, all of a sudden, in charge of a dozen kids and she carries that burden alone because it was a promise to her dying parents. I think the fact that she has that conversation with her parents is so powerful.
Q: There comes a point when Annie and the kids do need help. How does Annie justify and accept this position of vulnerability?
A: She really doesn’t have a choice, but it says a lot about Annie when she’s put into this position. She’s desperately running out of options. Her priority is to protect her group, but she was also instructed by her parents to stay where they were – the camp. That pushed her to extreme options to protect the camp… Luckily, she’s in a position where she doesn’t have to in that moment. It’s a really nice moment for her, although a little bittersweet.
Q: How would you explain the deeper connection between Annie and Alicia?
A: I love that relationship. I think Alicia sees a lot of herself in Annie. Both of them have been thrust into positions of leadership, whether they were ready or not. They’ve both faced loss and betrayal. I was floored by the parallels between the stadium and the camp because it’s so similar. Both of their parents poured all of their efforts into creating somewhere that was safe and that trust got betrayed. Annie is still processing that and is having a hard time abandoning what her family told her. She isn’t ready to move on and Alicia really recognizes that and is ready to connect to her. I think it’s like seeing that alternate universe and where you would be if you were a couple years younger.
Q: How huge is it for Annie to choose to finally let go of her camp in Episode 7?
A: It’s a really big moment. I know she’s out of options, for the most part, but Annie becomes a leader in that moment… When she has no other choice but to break away from that and from the safety net, she’s really ready to move on and grow into what can be a really strong leader.
Q: What behind-the-scenes details can you share about the camp and the stringed-up walkers?
A: When we were shooting Episode 4, the scene where I get tackled when the zombies break away, it was so funny because I had been around the zombies before, but never in such a direct and aggressive moment. We rehearsed the scene and I felt really good, but when we actually went to record it, I think I blacked out. I completely freaked out because the zombies go from drinking coffee and talking about their day to snarling and snapping. I had lines I was supposed to do while being tackled and I completely blanked! At the end of the take, the director was like, “That was really great! but the lines?” [Laughs] I was terrified for my life. It gets real all of a sudden.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c.
Read an interview with Alexa Nisenson, who plays Charlie.
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