Avi Nash, who plays Siddiq on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about the huge secret his character has been keeping and what his version of the future looks like.
Q: The Alexandrians took a chance on Siddiq when he first joined the group. How would you say he’s cemented himself within the group since then?
A: The first big pivot comes from being indebted to the Grimes family. He’s indebted to Carl for saving him in the woods and then he’s indebted to Rick for allowing him to be there. Over a year and a half, he goes from being indebted to that family to a part of that family. I think his moral standpoint about compassion and mercy affects Rick and they create a strong bond. Here’s a guy who lost his son and here’s a guy who lost everyone. We see him with Judith and checking up on her as a medic, but there’s also a familiarity and closeness there as well as with Michonne that we see after the second time jump… I think what drove him to be in the medical profession is wanting to serve other people and care for them – to hear what’s wrong with them and be a source of strength. A really good doctor is like a best friend, confidante and healer all in one. I think those personal qualities allow him to then become close to other members… He has no history with the Negan war. He has no loyalty to just Alexandria or just Hilltop or just the Kingdom. His loyalty is to people.
Q: How does he view Luke’s group?
A: The loss of Rick is like the loss of another parent and a mentor. It’s a significant loss of someone who has changed his life. I think the way he deals with that loss is by committing himself to upholding the values that Rick stood for… As the communities splinter apart, Siddiq is apart of that underground resistance and he’s figuring out a way to maintain contact with Hilltop and the Kingdom.
When Luke’s new group shows up, there’s obviously hesitation there but there’s also a very strong remembrance of the position he was once in. There’s that “What would Rick Grimes do?” mentality. Rick would test these people and then give them a chance. Luke speaks very much like how Siddiq spoke in terms of honoring the past and where they’ve come from. When he hears Luke express those sentiments, he knows in that moment that Luke is like him. He’s going to do what he can to ensure that they’re safe and that they’re given a chance. Obviously, there is the weight of history at play. Alexandria has been burned in the past, but Siddiq is close to Michonne and has the ability to speak to her with empathy. He has to navigate a tricky middle road, but a bridge between communities is the world that Rick and Carl envisioned.
Q: Luke believes the world will one day connect through music and art. What is Siddiq’s version of the future?
A: A future where the communities are separate branches of the same tree. A world where it’s harder to get to Hilltop and Kingdom, but we make those journeys because we want to see our friends and we have relationships with those people there whether it’s romantic, mentor-ship or apprenticeship. Siddiq has trained Enid. It’s been eight years of time. Enid is the prodigy and he’s gone out and shared his knowledge with other people in the other communities… His version of the future is one where, somehow, the walkers have become a threat like salmonella in that it’s something you can handle and it doesn’t get in the way of creating a beautiful and meaningful existence. When Luke brings up music and art and storytelling, Siddiq realizes Luke is right. It’s possible.
Q: In Episode 7, we discover that Siddiq has been hiding Maggie’s whereabouts from Michonne. How would you describe the position he’s been in with keeping that information?
A: There are a couple layers to that. Firstly, Michonne is one of his closest friends and someone he respects, but someone he often checks. On one level, revealing this secret is a betrayal of that trust… On the other hand, Siddiq is quite close to Maggie and knows about her departure… I think the other part of it is that he knows Michonne going to Hilltop is going to cause a problem because he’s going to have to reveal the secret, but his motivation changes as the events transpires. After that night with Luke talking about a different kind of future, he realizes that Michonne needs to remember and see again what’s at Hilltop – her friends and family that she’s grown distant from. All of a sudden, instead of trying to keep Michonne from going to Hilltop, he realizes he needs to get her there no matter the cost. So, all of a sudden what was once a crutch becomes the best card he has to play – it’s a difficult card to play but it’s persuasive enough. Michonne’s stubbornness has now caused her to miss out on saying goodbye to Maggie. That’s a really painful thing.
Q: The cast is on horseback this season. What was that experience like for you?
A: Before this season, I had never even touched a horse! I started to go every week and have now become very comfortable and I really enjoy it. Josh McDermitt, Khary Payton and I would literally go every week to practice and train. It’s amazing. We’ve had to rely on these horses for the last six years, so we need to show that we’re good on them. It also adds a new element to filming because it’s still a wild animal and it’s going to do what it wants to do in the scene. What’s cool is it gives you something active to do while you’re doing something else – which is how real life is. The horses have been awesome. I can gallop on a horse now. What a cool life skill to learn. My dad grew up watching westerns, so this is a dream come true for him. [Laughs]
Read an interview with Dan Fogler, who plays Luke.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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