Q: What interested you most about joining Fear the Walking Dead?
A: My husband and my nephews and my sister are ginormous fans of the whole universe. There are a couple of things on my husband’s bucket list for me as his wife to play. [Laughs] On his bucket list was for me to either play a robot – or be on a show with robots – or be on a show that’s zombie-related. Just so you know, I am the biggest scaredy cat. Full disclosure. I am the biggest wuss. I’m being very honest. It does not take much to scare me. Even when I watched The Walking Dead, it had to be during the day and with the windows open. That’s how chicken I am.
Q: So you were literally fearing the walking dead…
A: The irony is the universe saying, “I think you’re a grown woman and you need to seriously get over your fears.” This is a completely different genre than I’d ever done before and that’s what excited me as an actor. It was all very new to me. My skin is definitely thicker. As an actor, you want to grow and thrive and throw yourself in the deep end. I just feel so lucky to be a part of something so special. When I see beautiful scenery in the park now, all I think is, “Wow! This would be a great set for walkers. That tree is amazing.” [Laughs] Everything is apocalyptic now.
Q: What about Grace, specifically? What stood out to you?
A: With the character of Grace, she’s very different than any other character I’ve played before. She’s very pragmatic. She’s not emotionally-led. Her decisions are not guided by her emotions. That’s from the scientific mind that she comes from. That excited me because, me as Karen, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Grace truly challenges me and keeps me on my toes, every second that we’re on set. I thought I was quite good with multi-tasking, but this show fed me humble pie. There’s so much happening It’s an assault on all of the senses, simultaneously.
Q: How did you and Lennie James create the immediate chemistry between your characters?
A: Lennie is such a wonderful human being. He brings so much to every scene and the best out of your as an actor. To have that kind of support on my first day of filming meant the world. He’s so giving. When you have someone like that, you just feel such enormous freedom. When he feels, you feel. The chemistry is just there. We have such a laugh on set. I love calling him Mo Mo! He hates it. [Laughs]
It is always the hope of an actor that people who watch your character will embrace your character. We didn’t want Grace to come off as too cold, especially in the beginning. She’s just so focused. The very first time we meet Grace is with a gun pointed at Morgan — a beloved character — and her saying, “Take off your clothes.” [Laughs]
Q: Grace seems to fit/join the group pretty seamlessly. Where would you say the alignment is?
A: She realizes that interacting with this group is a good thing for her soul. It’s something she needs in order to begin her process of self-forgiveness. I know it’s not easy for Grace to do. As she gets to know each member of the group – especially Morgan – she starts to realize that they all have so much in common. You’re not alone on the path of survival.
Q: How does their mission coincide with her own goals?
A: She knows her clock is ticking. So, she can give herself a chance to start anew and try to do something with that time. If she can help as many people as possible before she goes… that’s a path of redemption. She’s changing her legacy.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c.
Read an interview with Garret Dillahunt, who plays John.
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