Colby Minifie, who plays Virgina on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about Virginia’s utilitarian philosophy and playing a “bad ass who uses flowery language.”
Q: Virginia makes quite an entrance, what’s it like playing such a distinct character?
A: So damn fun! I love playing Virginia. It’s just a delight to play a bad ass who uses flowery language. She has a deep well of history for me to imagine. The exploration never stops with a character like her.
Q: What about playing Virginia particularly appealed to you?
A: Riding up on a horse with an army and having seven and a half pages of dialogue the first day? Total joy. I really had no idea what I was stepping into when I flew down to Austin. I knew the show was a huge success and people loved it, but all I knew about Virginia was I was riding a horse and wearing a hat. And honestly? Riding a horse and wearing a hat is enough to get me on board — and having the opportunity to be up close and personal with some walkers.
Q: Virginia immediately butts heads with Morgan (Lennie James) and the rest of the group. Is it tough to come onto set and immediately set up as an antagonistic presence?
A: No, not really. I tend to play a lot of antagonistic characters for some reason and it’s always so fun, especially when the cast is as great as the actors on this show. I’m lucky that in addition to being some of the most welcoming people ever, none of the actors brought the on-screen relationships off-screen. So in between takes, we are back to goofing off and making each other laugh. It’s also helpful to have a clear antagonistic position when coming onto a big show like Fear. It was like 24-hours between finding out about getting the part and traveling to Austin, which was overwhelming. The relationships in this show are complex and it’s a bit of a shock to just dive into that pool. So, knowing I was the antagonist of the moment was a super helpful anchor.
Q: Virginia is trying to build something bigger and better amidst an apocalypse. What does it say about her as a visionary and leader?
A: Virginia is just trying to help as many people as she possibly can. She wants to rebuild a sense of community, structure and cooperation in a world imploded by chaos. She has an incredible imagination to be able to pull off what she has accomplished when we meet her in Episode 513… she has a large number of people who support her… She believes they need a leader that everyone can rally around to keep the community from crumbling. And she is damn good at what she does. Yeah, she loves it up there at the top of the pecking order.
Q: How does she justify her methods in order to achieve her vision?
A: In the end, Virginia is a utilitarian. She only cares that the most number of people survive and thrive under her leadership. Before the apocalypse, she was an efficiency expert. She was hired to assess what was redundant in a company and eliminate jobs that weren’t necessary. She does the same thing post-apocalypse, but “elimination” means something a little different… She is really good at finding what someone has to offer to benefit the whole community… She comes from a corporate climate where there is a clear chain of command — and in this world, she is the CEO.
Q: Does she truly see something in Morgan and the others or is it more of a numbers game?
A: I mean, part of it is definitely a numbers game. Virginia wants to have as many people in her jurisdiction as possible: the more people, the more skills they have to share, the stronger the community, the more they can grow it into a world that looks like what they used to enjoy. Morgan’s team… each have a skill that is vital to her community. June is a super talented nurse, Dorie and Alicia are skilled walker killers, Sarah and Wendell have trucking experience, and the list goes on. The whole group is also inclined to help others, which is hard to find in the apocalypse and useful to any community. The bottom line is, Morgan’s party has survived for a long time out on the road, which is impressive, and Virginia has a hard time knowing any group of survivors is out there and not part of her team — especially such a skilled and talented squad.
Q: You looked very natural on that horse. Had you ridden before?
A: Ha! Either you are very kindfor saying that or that’s a joke. I’m born and raised in New York City, so the only horses I came into contact with were pulling carriages. My cousins had horses in Massachusetts and my sister and I would ride them for hours when we were visiting as kids, but it had been something like sixteen years since I’d been on a horse and suddenly I was loping into a quarry filled with walkers and four cameras. I’ve never felt more powerful. I loved it, but I had a lot of help. Boom, my trusty steed, is an old pro, so I didn’t have to worry about him bucking or wandering off in the middle of the scene. And I had Anna Scott, the most bad ass stunt double I’ve ever met, making me look real good. I was also surrounded by a team of rodeo riders who were so comfortable around horses, I wanted to ride off into the sunset with them. Honestly, I had been keen to get back on a horse for a while. Every time I met one in the past two years I felt happy. So, I’m super grateful to Fear for getting me back in the saddle again.
Q: She has quite the get up. What did you think of her outfit?
A: Loved it! I think [Costumer Designer] Jo [Katsaras] did such a stellar job with Virginia and her army. Between costumes, props and artillery, Jo, [Props Master] Colin [Thurston] and [Weapons Coordinator] Eddie [Grisco] harnessed a combination of colonial and pioneer styles that carries with it a heavy history. I think it’s so effective because it’s a look that viewers will have an immediate reaction to. Virginia’s outfit warns what she is about before she even opens her mouth. I always feel lost until the costume fitting and this part in particular came into focus after I met with Jo and Colin. The costume, the key motif, the hat, the horse, the Tommy gun… all tell a strong story. I didn’t have to do much.
Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC. Available 48 hours early, ad-free, for AMC Premiere subscribers.
Read an interview with Danay Garcia, who plays Luciana.
To stay up-to-date with the latest interviews with the cast, trailers, episodes and behind-the-scenes videos, join the Fear the Walking Dead Insiders Club.Read More