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The Walking Dead Q&A – Ross Marquand (Aaron)

Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about keeping his role on the show a secret and whether the group should trust Aaron.

Q: Your arrival was a big deal among fans. What’s it like being the subject of intense discussion?

A: I’ve been following along and it’s fantastic; and of course it’s sparking a little bit of debate in terms of whether we can trust Aaron, if it’s going to closely mirror the comics or if it’s going to go in a totally different direction. It’s wonderful and it’s strange, too, because I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning. So, to go from mainlining Season 4 two weeks before I got cast to actually being on the show is bewildering in the best way.

Q: What’s the biggest difference between watching the show as a fan and acting in front of the camera?

A: I’ll be honest. I was freaking out! It’s one of my favorite shows and I want to do it justice, but I also have a great deal of professional regard for the actors on the show. I wanted to make sure I was doing my part to help facilitate the story and that I’m adding to something big.

Q: What was your first day on set like? Did any of the cast members give you advice?

A: Andrew [Lincoln] gave me the biggest hug and welcomed me to the group. He was also pretty helpful in terms of preparing for the weather. [Laughs] Josh [McDermitt] and Michael Cudlitz said, “We know it’s tough to come onto this show with all the expectations.” It was surreal, but so lovely that everyone was so welcoming. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people.

Q: How long did you know you were going to be on the show before you were able to talk about it publicly?

A: For a few months and it’s been the toughest secret I’ve ever had to keep.

Q: Who was the hardest person to keep the secret from? How did they react when they finally found out?

A: My parents, especially over Christmas when all of my family asked what I’ve been up to. Having such huge news, but not being able to say it was a lesson in discipline and restraint. I’m happy to say that I passed with flying colors.

Q: How much did you know about your character before that first day? Did you read the comic book for some backstory or just make him your own?

A: I spoke with Scott Gimple about what he expected from the character and what he’d like to see. I wanted to make sure that I was honoring the fanbase, but also giving it a color of my own because I think that’s the best way to make a character come alive. He told me not to shy away from the comics, but to also not follow it so closely that I lose myself. That was great direction to get.

Q: What’s been the most surprising thing you’ve discovered about Aaron so far? For one, he’s really well-dressed!

A: [Laughs] Everyone has been acknowledging how clean he is! He’s straight out of a L.L. Bean catalog. He’s that affable, Boy Scout type. People will make their own decision on whether or not they can trust him. I think he tries to do the right thing.

Q: If you were Rick, would you trust Aaron?

A: I think it would be tough after all of the letdowns they’ve had. It seems that the nicer people are, initially, the more untrustworthy they are. So, probably not!

Q: Gay couples kissing is still rarely seen on television. Was Aaron kissing Eric a surprise to you when reading the script?

A: Not at all. Robert [Kirkman] doesn’t shy away from that in the comics, which is great because I think it should be as natural as any other kiss on the show. It’s a passionate kiss, but we wanted it to be about the relationship. This is a relationship between two individuals who love each other very much and they’re excited to be reunited after all this time apart. Hopefully, that will be what people focus on. We felt a great deal of responsibility to do it respectfully.

Q: You’re currently starring in a run of Danai Gurira’s play, Familiar, at Yale Repertory Theatre. Can you talk a little about it?

A: I just love Danai’s brain. She writes the most beautiful, human plays and it’s been a real thrill getting to work with her as a writer. It’s so interesting to see how she formulates ideas and writes from an actor’s perspective.

Q: You’ve appeared on another AMC show, Mad Men, as Paul Newman. If you could play any other star, living or dead, who would it be?

A: It would have to be Matthew McConaughey. He’s another impression that I love doing and that man can just do no wrong. He’s a hell of a showman.

Click here to read an interview with Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene).

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