Melissa McBride, who plays Carol on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about her character’s evolving views on fighting and where Carol belongs.
Q: As a member of the original cast, what was it like adjusting to the loss of Carl?
A: I don’t think I’ve adjusted. I don’t know that any of us have adjusted. It’s just like real life. Sometimes it comes unexpectedly, like a shocker, and you take for granted that people are always going to be there. I’ve known him since before The Walking Dead, so it’s really special sharing this whole journey together, but I’m so excited for what’s ahead for him. He did such a phenomenal job on the show, growing up in front of everyone, and keeping such a sense of balance. As a viewer, I’m heartbroken and extremely anxious and curious to see how it will affect the rest of the group and Rick in particular. He had some dying words that were very poignant.
Q: How would you describe Carol’s evolving views on fighting and killing throughout her journey?
A: Well, it’s hard to put that in a nutshell. [Laughs] She’s so conflicted with her heart, her morals, the way the world is and with Morgan challenging her beliefs. I think it takes one to know one, so he recognizes that in her. At this point, she’s concerned about him. He’s on that slippery slope. When I think of her when we first saw her, she was assertive but she was not aggressive. She’s always been assertive. There have been many hints of that, but it’s like she told Daryl: “If I love them, I have to fight for them.” She knows that it’s going to take a piece of her. She feels there might be nothing left of her and that’s a scary thing to face: what does it do to you?
Q: Carol left Alexandria and wears the Kingdom’s armor. Does she see herself as a part of any one community?
A: I think she’s a part of the survivors in general. She may not let herself feel like she’s any part of one community. The closer she gets, the more she cares and the more she’ll have to fight and defend. She’s willing to do that because of the horrific things Negan has done. This war is worth it, but there’s still such a cost. Will there ever be a day when it won’t feel that way? I don’t know.
Q: Morgan and Carol seem to always to be looking out for one another. How do you and Lennie [James] build that complicated relationship?
A: Lennie’s so good to work with. It’s understanding the characters and the conflict within the characters and then when I look at Morgan’s face, he’s so present. He’s one of the most present actors to work with. I trust him so much. He’s just right there when I look at him. I don’t see Lennie. I see Morgan. It’s just one of those things where you can let go and trust the process.
Q: How would you describe Carol’s relationship with Henry? How does it compare to the other relationships she’s had with children on the show?
A: She’s so tentative around these kids. That’s the bane of her existence. The loss of her daughter and that guilt shifted everything. Maybe she went to an extreme – but in her mind, it’s totally justified – to save the children in the prison and teach them about weapons and how to fight. I think with Henry and with Sam, it’s that conflict. You want to know that they’re going to be able to defend themselves and it goes back to the grove. Her whole turmoil and inner misery of doing the right thing goes back to the grove with two points of view of Lizzie and Mika. Also, Henry looks just like Sophia! Madison Lintz played Sophia and [younger brother] Macsen Lintz plays Henry. He’s the same age as when Sophia joined the show. I can’t not see her when I look at him.
Q: It’s Carol that has put down walker Tobin in Episode 13. What did that do to her, emotionally, given their history?
A: It was pretty heartbreaking. He’s so sweet and he was also so kind to her. It’s the heartbreak and irony of him turning into a monster at the end and attacking her. It was really fun shooting with Jason Douglas because we were choreographing the fight and he’s so tall. I could tell he was being gentle with me and I told him to go all in so we could really struggle. He deserves it. [Laughs] I didn’t want to leave him high and dry like that. Nah! [Laughs] He did such a good job. He was a very frightening walker.
Q: There’s been an overarching theme of what comes after the war, but Carol says, “winning just means we get tomorrow.” What did you make of that line?
A: Carol’s so cynical anyway. She’s tired of it. We fight and fight and even if we win, we get another day to fight. For what? You get one more day of what? Poor Carol! Wake up and smell the roses!
Read an interview with Katelyn Nacon, who plays Enid.
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