Alexa Mansour, who plays Hope on The Walking Dead: World Beyond, talks about leaning on her imagination and the hope that she finds in Hope.
Q: What was your first impression of Hope?
A: She reminded me of a mixture of my little sister and I. My little sister is very mischievous. She doesn’t really listen to anybody or follow the rules. And I tend to err on the safe side of things. I think Hope likes to act like she’s all tough and cool, but she’s secretly super scared of everything and is not ready for the world.
Q: What has it been like telling the story of the apocalypse through the lens of a younger generation?
A: I don’t want to say it’s a lot more lighthearted, but kids do think that bad things can’t happen to them. They’re kind of immune to sad things in life. It’s like when you don’t believe something can happen to you until it actually does. So, I think they go into this not really expecting it to be as hard as it is. They have this wonderful idea of the world outside, but they’re in for a rude awakening. It’s a lot more naïve than the other Walking Dead shows.
And it’s dirty. Let me tell you that. There’s a lot more dirt involved than your typical set. It’s cool. It’s a challenge. You’re doing normal things, but the stakes are so much higher. Just walking 10 feet, you could run into someone and that could possibly be the end of you. It keeps you on your toes the whole time.
Q: What was your first encounter with an empty like?
A: My first real encounter with one was I think in Episode 2. It was the really, really tall empty. When I do a job and I find out there’s new characters or people on set, I always go and stalk them a little bit on Instagram. That was a big mistake I made this time, because I realized that this empty was actually really cute. [Laughs] So, it’s like six in the morning and I’m hyped up on candy, trying to stay awake, and all I had in my head was how this guy was gorgeous and how I have to fight him. [Laughs]
Q: In Episode 2, this motley crew go venturing out beyond the walls. How did you enjoy creating the camaraderie we see on the screen with your fellow cast mates?
A: It was so cool. I am the biggest introvert. I really do stay to myself, but we all got along right from the get-go which made the chemistry on screen just so natural. It made all of our jobs so much easier. When they call cut, we’re still friends and we’re still talking and laughing.
Q: How did you and your fellow cast members unwind on set?
A: When we would have really long night shoots, Aliyah [Royale] knew that I don’t like shooting overnight. She knew that it always got to me. So, when she wasn’t in a scene, she would stay on set and come into my trailer and we would just crack jokes and be there for each other. If one of us had a really sad scene and had to think about something to get into that moment, I would tell her everything that was going through my mind. It helps unwind all of this stuff.
Q: Later into the episode, the crew has to clear the “Blaze of Gory” area. What were those scenes like to shoot?
A: Oh gosh! One you get past the fact that it was like 115 degrees in Richmond that day… I mean, we were living a blaze of gory. Obviously when you’re looking through the binoculars and all that stuff, there’s nothing there and everything is in post-production. So, we were just trying to imagine the biggest fire in the entire world. It’s almost funny, like when you’re a kid and you try to pretend the floor is lava. There’s so much imagination and we’re all on the same page. It was insane.
Q: The night the sky fell had many different lasting effects on the community. How has it affected Hope and the way she shows up?
A: Hope has this big pain over her head and feels she can’t tell anyone because she’s scared of what people will think about her. When I was watching the episode, I cried after seeing how that little girl portrayed that whole scene. If that was me, I would hide from people too. How do you tell someone? The show starts with her trying to be there for other people and feel worthy by taking care of others. She sacrifices herself a lot because she feels so guilty.
Q: At one point, Hope is actually surprised at how audacious Iris is becoming. Do you think Hope has had an effect on her?
A: I think they’re both very different, but deep inside, they want to be each other. Hope has accepted the fact that she’s a degenerate who’s not going to amount to anything and the world’s going to go to crap, whereas Iris tries to come off as very positive. Hope wants to have that hope that Hope doesn’t have. [Laughs] As the show goes on, they build each other up and realize that they don’t have to prove anything to each other. They’re both special in their own ways.
Q: What are you most excited about when it comes to unveiling this new world?
A: I am most excited for all of the topics that our show covers. Things that kids might not want to talk about – feeling lost and alone, the anxiety and depression. I think it will give a lot of young adults a lot of hope for the future. That makes me really happy.
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