Q: The Whisperers shook up the whole dynamic on The Walking Dead. What’s been your experience with playing this game-changing character?
A: The most important thing is I didn’t have an agenda… so I didn’t feel like I had a weight on my shoulders. [Showrunner] Angela [Kang] really empowered me to create with what was on the page and to find this character. I approached it like any other role as an actor. I just did my thing. To the Whisperers, she’s just Alpha.
If I’m shooting a movie, I have a script for a very long time and I know all my lines and all my prep. When you’re doing television like this, you have to wait for the script. So, you’re constantly developing the character. That was new to me. I’d never done that before in my whole career. I just hoped and prayed that with each episode, my interpretation would fit the next one that came my way.
Q: How have you enjoyed playing with Jeffrey Dean Morgan who, of course, plays another infamous villain in the story?
A: Working with Jeffrey was incredible. I love working with Ryan [Hurst] and Thora [Birch] and Cassady [McCincy], and I loved working in my Whisperers world, but this was a nice change for me. Alpha is a lone island and does her own thing, so when we were getting into the Negan stuff, you get to see a different Alpha. Alpha is Alpha with Gamma, Beta, Lydia, Daryl, Carol and all these people. When she’s with Negan, something shifts and that’s really exciting to perform. I absolutely loved it.
Q: What do you think Alpha first makes of Negan when he comes into the camp?
A: It is a war and you have two sides in this war. She knows a little bit about his history, but she’s not from that world, so this is exciting for her. This is amazing. She’s got someone from the inside giving her loads of information. I think she enjoys the idea that men have an opinion of her, but she likes surprising people. Deep down, I think she’s an incredibly charismatic and unpredictable soul.
Q: What does it mean for Alpha to share physical intimacy with him, yet seemingly reject any deeper emotional connection?
A: Ultimately, it’s a very animalistic thing. It’s like a reward for something he’s done, but I don’t think she’s ever given that reward before. I always pegged her as someone who is celibate and who’s been celibate for a long time. She’s also trying to get into his mind. Maybe on some level, she’s trying to work out whether there is a deeper connection, but I think she was waiting to see. She was doing it in an animalistic way and as a reward, but you also can’t predict the chemistry between these individuals and what might happen because of that.
Q: How would you describe Alpha’s relationship with Lydia?
A: For me, the way I approached it is: imagine you had a son or daughter that joined [a cult] and you were trying to come to terms with the fact that your child has joined the enemy and has been radicalized and adopted an extremist mentality – whatever that is. That is how I approached it. For Alpha, it’s really about getting her child back from the cult that is the other side. It’s not just about wanting your child to come home to safety – it’s about everything you’ve ever known in regards to the bigger picture of society and life and death. It’s complex and not as simple as it seems.
Q: It’s ultimately Carol pulling the strings and getting her revenge [leading to Alpha’s demise]. Do you see any parallels between Carol and Alpha?
A: I think that Alpha has a connection with Carol. In the comic books, Alpha is separate to Carol, but in the story, Alpha became part of Carol’s storyline – separate to the Whisperers… It all comes full circle in Carol’s journey as opposed to being an individual journey… It’s fascinating.
Q: Can you share your favorite part of playing Alpha?
A: One of my favorite parts of the show was the first time you saw Alpha at Hilltop and she introduced herself. I love that scene because I got to work with so many people that day. I’ve had the time of my life and I will miss everybody dearly. I was so lucky to have Greg [Nicotero] and Tracy, who did my makeup. Without them, there would be no Alpha. They held me up many times. I’m also scared of blood!… and I needed a bloody therapist! [Laughs] I’ve loved every single moment.
Read on for Cassady McClincy’s (Lydia) insight into the bond between Alpha and her daughter.
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