Julia Ormond, who will play Elizabeth in AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond, talks about what’s different about the latest TWD universe series and teases what’s in store for this new generation.
Q: What drew you to The Walking Dead: World Beyond?
A: I had a very obsessive binge watch of everything – all… seasons of The Walking Dead and all five seasons of Fear the Walking Dead – and I just became completely stooped in all of it. What really drew me in was the great writing. They seemed to have really nailed the tone. It seemed to be really timely – maybe even more timely now than when the [original] show first started. There’s a level of commitment in the playing that I really find heartwarming. It makes this show work. It makes it hopeful and warm. I was really excited to join the cast.
Q: Are you a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, in general?
A: I think we are living in a time where it’s really scary. We’re facing a turning point that we never had to deal with before. We’re facing climate and human disasters, whether it’s refugees or immigration or human trafficking. All of the survival skills you see – whether it’s through a character like Negan who uses child soldier-like tactics of making people do horrendous things – those are all out there happening in the world. I do a lot of work on trafficking and slavery and sometimes it’s hard to get people to emotionally engage with something that is so frightening. Walking Dead brings us into that.
Characters like Travis in Fear the Walking Dead have that older generation assumption that somebody is doing something somewhere and then you hear on the radio, “Dude, we’re all f—cked.” [Laughs] What happens is, people shift. You watch people go through the journey of how to relate to the zombie. The zombie feels like a victim and an animal. It carries the sense of the person that it was and it’s a painful moment for people to see them in that state. You see what happens to authority figures and how people survive and what kind of tactics they bring in.
Watch the Teaser for The Walking Dead: World Beyond Now:
Q: What can you tell us about your character, Elizabeth? Do you draw on any inspiration in particular when crafting her?
A: In World Beyond, the character I’m playing is a leader of a formidable society. It’s an extension of the other worlds we’ve seen, but she’s another kind of community leader. I went into an actor panic because there have been so many great leadership roles. [Laughs] Andrew Lincoln, Lennie James… just such strong characters that have lent different sides of what my responsibility is. I think she’s more in the pragmatic zone. For me, the pragmatism that some of the characters have is really about devoting yourself to the future of the human race – not even the planet. The planet is going to survive, but it’s the human race that’s at risk. What role do you take? What tactics do you sign up for? At some point, the buck has to stop somewhere.
What I love about World Beyond is that it starts with a younger group and people who were really young when this all started. For them, it’s like “OK, boomers. You guys messed up. It’s up to us to save the world.” It’s definitely got that vibe.
Q: With so many young actors as your co-stars, what is the vibe on set?
A: This is a finely tuned machine, so it’s nice and relaxed. It’s really fun. It’s always great working with young people. It’s raw and open. There’s something endearing and open about it that makes you want to nurture it. There is something about the children and their future. There is something about being a parent in these circumstances and to exist within very real limitations of what they can and cannot to. You have to have a really healthy dose of tough love, that can often feel unhealthy for the people experiencing it. The tone is really helpful, too. There’s humor in it.
Q: What are you most looking forward to as we prepare to walk into a whole new world?
A: In general, more of The Walking Dead is great! [Laughs] This is a chance to go through the journey again and start at a level with new characters. I think it’s successful when you can start again with a new version and keep the journey going with new people. I thought Nick, in Fear the Walking Dead, was so brilliantly done. He had this strange kind of nonthreatening innocence to his character. His life is so chaotic in the pre-apocalyptic world that he sees it differently as everyone else gets thrown into chaos. He’s got a skill set in a different way. I’m most excited for how people will respond to this new set of young people and what they bring to this.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond will premiere later this year on AMC.
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