Q: Gabriel has come such a long way since we first met him in the woods. What kind of evolution have you noticed in your character?
A: Since we first met him, I’ve noticed that he’s gained a great deal of self-assuredness. He’s much more confident that he’s actually following the will of God. He’s not struggling with his faiths and beliefs the way he was when we first met him and when he felt like he had failed God and failed himself.
Q: You’ve seen your share of villains on the show. How have you been enjoying playing with the Whisperers?
A: It’s been a lot of fun… Playing with the idea of a cold war and your fears and paranoias playing on your decision-making. It’s very different from the war with Negan, which was a back and forth in-your-face assault with weapons. This one is far more insidious and terrifying in that way. They plant ideas in your head and have you question your decision-making and what’s the right direction to take. It’s dealing with people who are like a massive cult – they have the mindset of a cult – as opposed to people who are just trying to rob you. The Saviors are like the Mafia and these guys are like a Jim Jones cult.
Cast and Creators on How Alpha Sows Paranoia and Chaos:
A: It does take a village to raise a child. That’s pretty much what they’re doing. They’re pooling all their resources and all the people that they have to raise this child and keep her as safe and healthy as possible. They each co-parent and bring a particular specialty to the table.
Q: How do you imagine the loss of Siddiq affects him?
A: The loss of Siddiq affects him very deeply. He looks upon Siddiq like a brother, and not necessarily as a former lover of his current lover or as a rival. They were in this together. They both shared a love for the same woman. Where ever there is love, there is joy – that’s not something to be minimalized with the ego. These are not selfish ideas that they’re putting forth – you can have people who have had a past come together with people who are building a future. It works if you build it together.
Q: What about the loss of Avi on the show? You and Josh McDermitt often talk about the “little brother” dynamic you two have with him.
A: [Laughs] Yeah. It’s always bittersweet to lose someone on the show because you miss them, but you’re excited for what they have coming up in the future. We did have a good deal of fun, ruffling his fathers and teasing him at all times. He was a great sport about it. I hope that closeness and that ease that we had with each other off screen radiated onto the screen…
Q: In the episode, even Rosita is a bit taken aback by how hungry Gabriel seems to be for a fight. What’s it like finding those new avenues in your character?
A: It’s been fun to play. You want to stay true to the person you first met, but acknowledge the changes they’ve gone through. Each of us is growing every day as people. It’s been fun to play with the darker sides of Father Gabriel. The side that doesn’t have patience and that isn’t so willing to listen when he has his mind set that these people are a form of evil and must be conquered and destroyed. With the Saviors, they were bad people who had to be defeated. Father Gabriel sees the Whisperers as a far more insidious brand, so he’s more gung-ho about eradicating them.
Q: He still wears his clerical collar, too. Do you think being a “man of the cloth” keeps him morally balanced? How else does he lean on his spirituality to navigate the apocalypse?
A: I think he feels he’s got a duty to the community to be a conduit for a higher power for them all. That’s one of the reasons he wears the collar, even though he’s living more like an earthly man these days with having a lover and family and being into politics. It’s been a lot of fun to play with how empowered he is by the collar. It’s kind of like his superhero suit. He’s stronger with it and because of it.
Q: Dante just recently committed a huge act of betrayal. What’s it like to have Gamma around now?
A: It’s interesting that Father Gabriel is willing to listen to Gamma. With Gamma, it’s like: is it possible to break someone whose mind has been brainwashed? Is it possible to bring them back from that, and what is left of the person once you do? The show is great at dealing with people adapting and changing. Even with where we saw Carol and who she is now. The show is great at showing how people gain each other’s trust and how they lose it, and what it means to be a community and a family. All these things, the Whisperers are a threat to because they have such a different mindset. It’s like getting a transplant and seeing whether or not the body rejects it. It’s interesting to have one of them come into our realm and safe space and try to adapt.
Read an interview with Thora Birch, who plays Gamma.
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