Q: What’s most interesting to you about Beta?
A: I’ve been an enormous fan of the comic for a long time and also a giant fan of the show. I’ve been friends with Jeff [Dean Morgan] and Norman [Reedus] for a long time and I saw how much fun they were having. In terms of being drawn to the character, what I always seem to be drawn to the most are enigmatic characters or characters that really have a journey in front of them. What I loved in the comic is that Beta is a riddle. Here’s this giant guy following this charismatic and crazy woman around and who never took off his mask. I felt like it would be a nice character exploration to get into this guy’s journey.
Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Alpha and Beta? How have you enjoyed building it with Samantha Morton?
A: We built it together, but we wanted to make it unique. We didn’t want Beta to be too submissive. We came up with this relationship that felt very carnal without being sexual. It comes off as very strange, very intimate, but not sexual. I feel like we landed that really well. It’s this passion between the two of them that’s very primal and tangible, but at the same time it’s completely co-dependent. You’re weirded out when you’re watching it. Why are these people touching each other and talking this way? [Laughs]
Go Inside Alpha and Beta’s Bond:
Q: What’s the process been like with the masks – especially since Beta never takes his off – and the choreography of moving like the walkers?
A: The mask is totally hot and gross. I’m in a leather trench coat, so it’s a lot of sweaty grossness. At the same time, I love wearing it. The mask that Greg Nicotero put together is so beautiful… I love wearing the thing. In between takes, they say, “Do you want to take this thing off?” Nope, I’m wearing it just like he does. In terms of the choreography, when you’re with a bunch of walkers – especially when you have 200 background artists – it’s this wonderful thing. When else in life would you get to walk slowly and violently with 200 people? It’s beautifully relaxing. I know it’s the apocalypse, but it’s weirdly refreshing! [Laughs]
Q: In Episode 2, Beta witnesses a moment of “weakness” in Alpha as she mourns Lydia. How does this land on Beta?
A: The fact of the matter is that Beta left all of humanity behind when he first met Alpha. He was hanging onto this best friend of his and she convinced him to let that go. There’s a bit of a hypocrisy behind Alpha. She says we live like animals, and none of have names except for Lydia. Beta has always understood this. He hasn’t condoned it, but he’s gone along with it. When he comes upon her mourning, he’s known this all along. He’s seen the cracks in her facade for years now. He can finally confront her and they lean on each other.
Q: It’s always been Alpha and Beta leading, so what’s it like to have Gamma thrown in the mix?
A: I think it complements the fact that Beta has begun to see that Alpha is losing her grip on what’s best for all of the Whisperers. He’s going to silently support her, but behind it all, he’s trying to watch her back. When Gamma enters the picture, I wouldn’t say Beta is upset, but he’s supremely suspicious of allowing her to ascend the ranks. He doesn’t trust anybody and he’s had his eyes on Gamma for a long time.
Read an interview with Ryan’s friend Norman Reedus, who plays Beta’s nemesis Daryl.
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