Interview: Fear the Walking Dead's Cliff Curtis – ‘A virus could overtake humanity and draw out the best and the worst in us.'

  • The List
  • 21 August 2015
Interview: Fear the Walking Dead's Cliff Curtis – ‘A virus could overtake humanity and draw out the best and the worst in us.'

L-R: Cliff Curtis, Kim Dickens, Alycia Debnam-Carey and Frank Dillane

Actor Cliff Curtis tells us what to expect from the Walking Dead spin off

Zombie thriller The Walking Dead is one of the biggest cable TV shows of all time so it should come as no surprise that AMC has launched a spin off series. Fear The Walking Dead heads across to the other side of the US, to Los Angeles, as we catch up with new band of survivors as they dead rise from their graves. Season one starts with six episodes but AMC has such confidence in the series, season two was commissioned before the pilot episode even aired.

New Zealand actor Cliff Curtis, who plays the patriarch of the Manawa family, tells us more:

Tell us a bit about your character …
Travis Manawa is a high school teacher, and a divorcee with a teenage son who is in a new and exciting relationship with his girlfriend Madison Clark. She has two teenagers as well. He’s very much in love and wants to try and figure out how to make his blended family work.

What interested you in the role?
I like the idea of playing an ordinary guy. He’s not some superhero with special powers; he’s just kind of an ordinary guy. The problems in his life are doing a good job at work, trying to wrangle his teenage kids and figuring out his relationships. And that’s a really great place to start because what comes in our show is so bizarre and extraordinary and unnatural that rather than having an action hero response and approach, he is a very human guy and doesn’t know what to do.

Can you tell us more about Fear the Walking Dead?
Fear is the first word in the name of our new show. We’ll hear time and time again, it’s not a prequel or sequel, it’s a companion piece. It’s its own show. What it means is it is very different. And what I like about the show and what I’m learning is it feels real. This actually could really happen. Not just the whole thing about the undead or infected, but seeing how a virus could overtake humanity and then draw out the best and the worst in us and how quickly our idea of civilization can crumble. What happens if things we take for granted aren’t there? What happens if the people that we know are no longer the people that we know? We’re not treating this in a hokey way. We’re treating it in a very real, very grounded way, and it makes the show more interesting to me.

What will audiences grab onto in the series?
There are many different characters going through different situations. Most everyone I imagine will find a character to relate to. If you don’t like the character, you’ll likely relate to the situations, and those are complicated in layers. Having the believable family with enough of a spread in an ensemble cast that the audience can relate to one or more of them, and then – bang! Tragedy hits again, and hits again, and I think that’s very entertaining. For some reason we like to watch humanity go through that. We’ve been doing it since the Greek tragedies. These are our classical plays now, they’re on TV. And I think we’ve always been fascinated by what would happen? How would people behave? There is something really gripping about tragic circumstances. There’s the threat, and then the impact and for some base reason, that’s entertainment.

There’s also a kind of pantomime type of device in the show in that the audience knows what’s going on, similar to any good genre horror film. I think we’ve got enough moments like that in the show to satisfy that thrill, and there’s enough hope in the show as well for our characters. Well, I hope they’re going to be okay!

Fear the Walking Dead premieres on AMC Global on BT, Mon 31 Aug.

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