Exclusive interview with The Walking Dead’s Sarah Wayne Callies in Total Film Indonesia

Back in August, I had the privilege of having a phone interview with Sarah Wayne Callies who plays Lori Grimes in AMC’s The Walking Dead. She was a very nice lady who answered questions very clearly and professionally. In our interview, she addressed character deaths that might happen on the show, including her own. She also had some very interesting insight on a lot of aspects on the show. It was truly a pleasure to be talking with her and discussing TWD (as well as zombies and aliens) with her.

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FEARLESS FEMME

Exclusive interview with Total Film Indonesia: Sarah Wayne Callies on character death, strong women and aliens…

WORDS AMANDA AAYUSYA

Lori Grimes, the leading lady portrayed by Sarah Wayne Callies in AMC’s The Walking Dead, is one of those love-her-or-hate-her types. After cheating on his husband (Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes) with his best pal (Jon Bernthal) in Season 1 and getting pregnant without knowing who the father of the baby is in Season 2, probably not a lot of people would cry to see her go after a zombie bite. But hang on – The Walking Dead would truly lose one of its biggest intrigues without her. Can the show survive if she was really gone? Callies herself told us what she knew and what she wanted for her character in this exclusive interview with Total Film Indonesia. Apparently, she is not afraid of dying…

WARNING: The following interview contains spoilers from The Walking Dead. Please read with caution.

How far do the actors in The Walking Dead know about what’s going to happen to their characters?
We talk to the writers at the beginning of each season and we get the broad strokes so we can start making decisions and prepare things appropriately. There are certain details that they keep from everybody. For the second season, Frank gave us the first seven episodes about a month before we started shooting so we can start working on our lines and what’s happening but they kept back the 8th episode so none of us knew about Sophia dying until about a week before we shot that. And it does vary. We’ve had people on the show who were called and told they were going to die and they don’t. And then there are people who’d not been told they were going to die and they die. And that’s just kind of how it works.

While shooting the show, do you ever think about how people would react to the story?
I try not to think about what the people’s responses are going to be. I think as an actor that can be kind of dangerous. You can start to try and please the audience or to sort of clown it up for them. I think the show kind of lives or dies based on how honest it is and we worry about what the audience is going to think. We work really hard for that honesty. There are things that I read, though, in the script that just made me go, “Oh my god! I did not see that coming!” I think none of us saw it coming and knocked the wind out of me.

You have already made a statement [in The Walking Dead’s 100th issue party] that you’re not afraid if Lori dies in the show. Can you elaborate?
Lori dies in the comic books. Lori’s death in the comic books does something very important to Rick. And this is Rick’s story. This is a story of one man walking a living nightmare. In the comic books, he’s sort of it at the end. So I took this job knowing that first of all, no job in television lasts forever. And also knowing that I’m playing a leading lady who doesn’t make it all the way through the comic books. That’s been in my mind since the beginning. If they can come up with a way of doing to Rick what Lori’s death death does without killing me, I’m all for it. I love this job, I want to stay on this job, it’s the best I’ve ever had. I also think it would be very selfish of me to try and change the story just because I don’t want to be killed off. I think that would be ridiculous. It’s the best way for me to serve the story.

Don’t get me wrong, leaving the show would break my heart into million pieces. I love this characters. But if it happens, I’m not going to try and stop it.

But won’t that reduce the show’s intrigue and intensity?
We lost Shane – and Jon Bernthal is a brilliant powerhouse of an actor – that character was super vital and they killed him. Now whether or not the show survives without him in S3 remains to be seen but people seem to think it’ll go on. And we lost Jeff DeMunn who plays Dale so beautifully and the show went on after that.

It’s important for the audience to be able to believe that everybody is in real jeopardy. If they believe that there are certain characters that can’t be killed off, then there’s no real danger to those characters anymore. And that’s what I thought was so great about killing Shane. It makes it clear to the audience that nobody’s safe. And I think you keep that jeopardy up.

After working in The Walking Dead for so long, are you now used to of the ridiculously scary zombie make-up?
Every time it freaks out. I’m the chicken on the set. The children on the show are braver than I am. I get very scared. I mean some of them are really terrifying. Greg Nicotero, he’s a good friend of mine who does the make-up, likes to have the new zombies sneak up on me at lunch to see if I can lose my appetite. And so far he’s done it twice in the third season.

Can you talk a little bit about your participation in this year’s Comic-Con panel that raised the subject of kick-ass women in Hollywood?
It was such an honor to be invited and participated in that panel. I kept looking around that panel and there are women I have such respect for. The first time ever I got to be with Lucy Lawless was on that panel. Women’s strength is an important component of any show but that strength is not just about picking guns and shooting people, and punching them or kicking them, but there are ways for women to kick ass and to do it with inner strength and their emotional courage and their power.

Lastly, zombies versus aliens – which scares you more?
Aliens scare me more. Zombies are just reanimated people. All they do is try and eat flesh. They can’t plan. Aliens are the big unknown, they represent something coming from a long way away with a higher intelligence. That level of unknown is [scary]. I could live my life without any one of them. If there’s a chance for a third choice, like A. Zombies, B. Alien, and C. I’ll pick C.

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The Indonesian version of this interview was published in Total Film Indonesia magazine, issue 35, October 2012. Please do not copy and/or print this interview anywhere without permission. To buy a copy of this magazine, please contact redaksi@totalfilmindonesia.com.

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