Interview with Alexa Mansour, Nicolas Cantu, Hal Cumpston and Julia Ormond of “The Walking Dead: World Beyong” on AMC by Thane 12/3/21
This was my first interview for the site. We had some technical problems, but it worked out well in the end. It was great to listen to the actors talk about the final episode of the show.
Question: Congratulations on a great season of the show. Now, the show was, as far as I know, entirely filmed in Richmond, Virginia, or if not, mostly filmed there. I was wondering if each of you could give me a recommendation for a great restaurant or spot to do or to go to the next time I’m in Richmond?
Alexa: The Jefferson Hotel. Go to the Jefferson hotel; get a dirty martini. It’s great.
Hal: Yeah, the Jefferson hotel is awesome. They’ve got an alligator out at the front, because apparently they used to have alligators walking around the hotel there in the 30s or something. What else is there? Where did we all go for that dinner by the river? That was awesome.
Alexa: What was it called?
Nick: The Lilly Pad? I’m pretty sure it’s the Lilly Pad.
Alexa: It was the Lilly Pad. It was the Lilly Pad.
Hal: The Lilly Pad. Hell yeah.
Nick: My shouts out for Richmond are this hot chicken sandwich place called Hot Chick.
Hal: Yeah, I was about to say “Hot Chick.”
Nick: Hot Chick sandwich place, and I would go to the skate park a lot called Treasure Island. It’s a DIY; that place is sick. Those are my two shout outs for the city of Richmond. And the river is just beautiful, like just finding little stuff to do along the river. That’s great, too.
Question: Did ever of you go to GWARbar ever, or that was off limits?
Nick: What’s GWARbar?
Hal: I walked past it once.
Question: The heavy metal band GWAR has a bar/restaurant in Richmond.
Nick: Wait, what? Do they? My friends just went to a GWAR show. I didn’t know they had a bar in Richmond.
Hal: [unitelligible] skating now.
Nick: I didn’t know they had a bar. Man, I missed that. Thank you.
Hal: You could have taken photos at it and pretended you were cool.
Question: Congratulations on this amazing season and wrapping up the show. It’s just been fantastic. My question to you, and this is open to anyone, looking back, your character started the series with a very distinct view of how the world worked, and most importantly, how it should work and what those rules should be and how you should function. I’m wondering how your character’s vision changed by the end of the series. Who wants to go?
Nick: I’ll go. I’ll go. I think Elton has changed was very much from kind of spectating to being a part of everything now, but, also, he saw the gray area of the world more in season two. Season one you see him just kind of being this, I guess, more of a pacifist, but in season two as he accepts the world for what it is, he starts participating in the more gray aspects of apocalypse life.
Hal: Yeah, that was a real same this season…I also thought growing up was it a theme of the show.
Alexa: Yeah, I agree with that. I think growing up for sure. I’m just realizing what’s important and what’s worth actually stressing yourself out over, you know, like, I feel like in the first season, at least for Hope, she was really very bitter towards everybody. She just was so ready to destroy anybody that she thought was bad. Second season, she became a little bit more methodical about the way that she approached things, like realizing like sometimes you do have to kind of – not sleep with the enemy, but sleep with the enemy, to get what you want and to get ahead. Nick’s looking at me like –
Nick: What do you mean by that? Sleep with the enemy?
Alexa: Like the CRM was the enemy, and she went undercover in that area, which I feel like first season she would have been like, “Screw this; I’m not doing this.”
Hal: I’ve never slept with anyone let alone the enemy.
Alexa: I’ve never slept with anyone either.
Julia: I’ve [unintelligible] slept with people, but, I don’t know, I sort of feel with Elizabeth, the pragmatism of being committed to an agenda that was really tough and seemed really clear just became much more complicated for her and clearly hadn’t worked [unintelligible] defeated by that.
Question: This is what it’s for Alexa, how was it manag[ing] to get the F bomb in on the last episode?
Alexa: I didn’t even know I had an F bomb in the last episode.
Hal: Yeah, what the hell? You fully got a fuck in there.
Question: No, that was the previous episode, sorry.
Alexa: I didn’t know that that was as big deal. I didn’t know that was like an actual thing that you couldn’t do. I figured because it’s television and whatnot, but people actually think it’s a really big deal, and I say that word all the time.
Hal: Alexa is awesome like that. She’s such a swear bear.
Hal: She doesn’t sleep with anyone, but she sure as hell swears a lot.
Alexa: Yeah. No, I’m actually pretty excited that I got that F bomb in there, because Hal didn’t get it.
Hal: Yeah, I didn’t even get as much as like a “crap” or a “shit.”
Alexa: Because Silas doesn’t talk. You have to talk more.
Hal: It is so weird with the ruling. I think, because there’s so much violence, they’re not really allowed to like swear and have violence, but it’s like is killing someone not a little bit more offensive than swearing?
Alexa: Not if what you’re killing was a rotting piece of flesh.
Nick: We kill people in this show.
Hal: There’re people being killed.
Nick: Yeah. We don’t shy away from human death.
Hal: I’ve killed nearly as many people as I’ve killed zombies.
Alexa: You’ve killed people on the show?
Nick: People die in the show.
Hal: I kill two people, I think. Yeah, I do…My two father figures.
Nick: That’s a shame.
Hal: That is a shame.
Thane: Nicholas, tell us how they did the special effects and such at the end, where you lost part of your arm.
Nick: So, for that last shot, we were kind of coming over the hill in Portland, and they gave me like a blue like sleeve to put my arm through. They just kind of said, “Don’t move it.” So, I just kind of stood with my arm just still. Then, I guess they blue screened it out. But then for one scene where I had my arm chopped off and I’m sitting in that hospital bed, my arm is just a pool noodle. I always thought that was funny that they just put a pool noodle and wrapped and bandaged, like, “That’s his arm,” and my actual arm was under some covers. So, that’s how they achieved the effect of me not having an arm.
Hal: They toyed with the idea of actually doing that.
Nick: They were thinking about actually chopping it off. It was not them thing; it was a me thing for the character, where I wanted to go all the way. But my doctor said “no.” So, we had to do blue screen and pool noodles.
Hal: His therapist said “yes.”
Nick: Therapist said “yes;” Doctor said “no.”
Alexa: Did you tell the doctor how much they were gonna pay you for the arm?
Nick: Ah, it’s a weird thing with me and my doctor. So, I feel like they would raise my prices if I did something like that. So, I just kept it chill.
Hal: Nick’s sleeping with his doctor.
Nick: I kept it chill. So, it was able to be figured out basically with special effects and movie magic
Thane: When you read in your script that you were bitten and then cured, were you disappointed that you didn’t get to be a walker and/or die on screen?
Nick: A little bit, actually, because ever since I signed on to The Walking Dead thing, I was like, “Okay, the whole experience would be, get in the show, kill some things, and then get killed,” because that’s like the cycle of The Walking Dead universe. So, I was wanting to be a part of it, but, hey, maybe my day will come someday. I got my arm chopped off. That’s part of it. I’m getting like drip fed little apocalyptic checkmarks on a bucket list. So, maybe one day I’ll get to die. It’s a start, but you know, zombies. [laughs]
Question: Pollyanna came from the main show, The Walking Dead, as Jadis, but now she’s on World Beyond. She’s a completely different character. So, what was it like working with her? Because compared to the main show and this one, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
Alexa: I didn’t know. I mean, I knew she was on the original one; I didn’t know that she was playing a completely different character. I thought that it was like, maybe just a different side of her of the character. Like maybe the character went through some shit and came out. You know, when you go through a hard time [and] when you come out you’re like a completely different person, but that’s kind of interesting to know. She’s awesome to work with. She’s like, insanely talented. So, regardless of like, different character or not, she was great to work with.
Hal: Yeah, Pollyanna. Very fun to work with. Yeah.
Alexa: And it was sick, knowing that someone from the original show was crossing over. Because I was like, “Oh, there’s there’s hope.” Not no pun intended.
Hal: I like getting to work with my British brothers and sisters. They’re a little bit less American, so it’s fun.
Question: Julia, the moment at the end of the series finale, it was just so beautiful, and watching Elizabeth, the realization come across Elizabeth, as she kind of gets a sense of what’s going on. I’m curious, do you think she knew that Huck was torn as much as she was between this life she’d been living undercover and her duty to the CRM?
Julia: I have to confess, I haven’t actually seen how they ended up cutting it together, but I do feel the Elizabeth buried any fears that she had about Jennifer and her relationship. And I know that is something that kind of is in pretty much every scene that they have together, is this question of how much Elizabeth cares or connects and the things that Jennifer’s gone through. But I don’t think Elizabeth, by the time that she’s arrested and put into [a cell], I don’t think she has completely been able to – I think she’s emotionally distracted. I don’t think she’s been completely able to quite admit the degree to which she’s made some – she’s made some legitimate sort of mistakes, as a leader, in terms of the vulnerability. So, it’s understandable to me that Jadis does comes at her with the things that she does, and I think Elizabeth just hasn’t really realized how much of a distraction it’s been, the emotional stuff. So, I think it’s gut wrenching for her that Jennifer’s not connecting with her as a mom as a result of choices that Elizabeth has made and found family in other people to be worthy of being loyal to, and I think that destroys her.
Hal: Things are so bleak for Elizabeth at the end there.
Alexa: I mean, she kind of deserves it, no offense.
Hal: Everyone is throwing hate.
Alexa: She destroyed our home.
Julia: Well, she does have to make some tough decisions, but yeah, I guess so.
Question: For all of you, did any of you get to take home any kind of either weapons, or items from the set?
Hal: Hell yeah, they sorted us out.
Hal: I’ve got my wrench. I’m moving to a new house and I’m going to get it in a glass box.
Alexa: I took my S-pole
Nick: I don’t know if you can see it. I’m gonna get the pocket fisherman. I’m going to bring that out.
Hal: Gotta get the pocket fisherman Nick. Do your mother fucking thing.
Alexa: I have the S-pole.
Question: Oh, it’s somewhere in the other room?
Alexa: Yeah, mine’s in the other [room].
Nick: The pocket fisherman; rock it up with the pocket fisherman. It’s got all the action. It’s just sitting here. I got to keep the suit. I got to keep this. They gave me like the little archeology bag; they gave me the whole thing.
Hal: Nick uses that fisherman as like a pickup line.
Nick: Yeah, when I’m bored.
Hal: Nick, demonstrate. What do you do? Go on; demonstrate.
Nick: I say, “Hey, baby. I’m trying to do this interview. So let’s move on.”
Hal: He always says baby.
Nick: Always with the baby.
Question: How about you Julia?
Julia: [laughs] No, I got a great mug as a takeaway that had a Walking Dead design on it from one of the crew members that was super fun, but no. I don’t want to take home weapons. I take home my memories.
Hal: Did Elizabeth really have weapons? I feel like other people did her dirty work sort of.
Julia: Excuse me! No, she had like the stiletto pen thing.
Hal: Oh, true. I remember that from the show.
Julia: But I mean, also, kind of like the way that we had set about it in terms of Elizabeth’s stuff is that she could kind of…turn anything into a weapon instead of sort of – yeah, she had a stiletto that was sort of kept [in] the jacket somewhere, but the idea is that she could take any weapon and use it sort of as somebody who’s got a military background and training to do that stuff, but you don’t really get to see that in the series.
Hal: There wasn’t enough time for anything.
Thane: [Hal], all of the characters went through so much; yours seemed to go through the most changes all throughout the series. Which part did you enjoy the most, and, in your opinion, does Silas stay loyal to his friends, or does he [go over to] the dark side or the CRM?
Hal: Well, yeah, he does really change, because at the start he’s scared to say anything or look anyone in the eye. Then, at the end of it, he’s almost like a pretty normal, normal-ish person, which maybe just is my acting not making sense that I came back and decided it was a new character, or it’s really good emotional range, or like range to go from that, from the start to the end, but who knows? That’s for the people to decide as to whether he’s loyal or going to the CRM. Again, I’d like to think that he thinks for himself, and that’s an option for him that he doesn’t know. Maybe he is half seeing what’s going on with the CRM and checking it out and then seeing if he really wants to take it down. But I do get the sense that now that these little young rebel rebel kids have got a taste for taking down the establishment, I feel like that’s gonna happen again. They’re not able to sit still and just deal with living in the post apocalyptic world. They have to be like fighting something constantly. They’re all going to Portland and stuff. I mean, they could just chill out. That’s what I like to do, just chilll.
Thane: Were you a fan of The Walking Dead before you auditioned for the show?
Hal: I’d never seen any of it…I hadn’t seen it before, but, obviously, because I hadn’t lived under a rock, I knew what The Walking Dead was. It’s like a humongous thing, but then I got to watch, and it was actually pleasant. I was sort of surprised. I thought it would be this particular thing, but I watched the first two seasons as I was getting the callbacks. You get to another point, they’re like, “Oh, I think they’re gonna make an offer, blah blah blah,” and it was my first American audition. So, it was all very surreal for me. Then I’m able to watch the show, and I’m like, “I actually like this show. This is crazy. It’s a pretty cool [show].” The first season, it’s almost a bit like it has an independent movie feel, but with a budget, and the acting is pretty awesome and fresh and interesting.
Alexa: Yeah, I only watched the first couple seasons. I think I stopped at season three, but I really liked it. I just tend to fall out with TV shows and just forget to keep watching them, and I lose my spot.
Nick: Yeah, I watched the first two seasons as well, I think, when they put them on Netflix, and then I tapped out, because I was like ten or something, and it was just a lot of blood and guts. But my older brother kept watching it, and it was always in the household. Then, he was like, “Hey, come check this out,” when Glenn died, and he just showed me his brains getting splattered on TV. I was like, “Oh, great, dude. Awesome.” So, it was always in my house, but I only kept up with seasons one and two.
Question: All of you, for the final episode, were there any scenes that were very hard to pull off when it came to either the dialogue or during the stunts?
Alexa: Yeah, there was, I think it was in season two, either episode one or two, but when Hope has a fight with Candice, before she gets pushed against the wall and eaten alive or whatever, that scene took all day, because we had to keep switching between me and the stunt double. So, that was probably one of the longest, hardest scenes that I had to do. Yeah, I’m very happy that I made it through it in one piece.
Nick: Yeah, by the end of season two, we were there, I think, from January to June, so once it got it started getting closer to summer, the days were getting hotter, and the season was ending, so we had to do all of our stunts. We shot every season in Richmond; it was really nice, but once we got to the summer, it got hotter, and [there were] just bigger set pieces. There was the whole battle at the the community village where the CRM comes in and Elton’s about to get executed, that whole like battle piece where the building blows up and everything, that was multiple days. That was a lot of prep, but it turned out awesome. That was probably the hardest.
Hal: They blew up the barn. That was nuts.
Nick: That was crazy. Did you see that?
Hal: Remember there was a fire; the whole fire department was just sitting there having to watch it burn.
Nick: Yeah, because it was a controlled burn or something. They’re just sitting on the sidelines.
Hal: Yeah, the fire people couldn’t handle it.
Nick: Yeah, but it was sick.
Hal: It was like Pavlov’s dogs.
Question: How about you Julia?
Julia: I think, honestly, as an actor, the the first episode scene, just from a technical point of view, I had so much. [laughs] I had this six page speech for Elizabeth. I don’t think [unintelligible] all of it, but I was absolutely terrified, because I think the way that it shot, it’s kind of like you don’t have – I think when you see it come together, it looks as if it could have been chopped up. [laughs] It was just kind of –
Alexa: You killed it, though.
Julia: Oh, my God. Thanks, I appreciate that. Yeah, it was just really challenging, because it was also, how do I make this interesting instead of kind of having people go, “Oh, my God, when is she going to shut up?” But yeah, I think just that I sort of ended up with something that was a bit kind of technical, but that was probably my most challenging…I think, as an actor, the scenes that I love are the scenes where you don’t have any tech, so being given something [laughs], it was sort of like, “Oh, no!”
Hal: What was the question?…Sorry, my phone ran out of charge; now I’m on my computer.
Question: I was asking, were there any scenes of stunt work or dialogue that was very challenging during this whole season?
Hal: I don’t know; everyone else has answered. I don’t know, the scenes where I don’t – like a lot of the time, Silas doesn’t have many lines, and that’s a little bit like odd sometimes, like sort of the opposite. You know what I mean? I wouldn’t mind a few extra lines, so I don’t have to do all this, like, “I’m not saying anything, but I’m acting.” Sometimes it’s fun just to be able to go to set and say some shit. We’re there for so long, like six months. So, honestly, I feel like the challenging part probably was there was so much time in between, because all the storylines were so caught up. So, actually, we weren’t really working that much. Well, I wasn’t. I love being on set. I love being on set.
Julia: I think one of the really hard things was actually doing it under COVID circumstances, because when you’re rehearsing, you’ve got all this stuff around your face. You can’t really kind of see the reactions of people; you’re not interacting. I felt like I [wasn’t] able to interact with crew in the same way. So, there’s this kind of block from having this human experience. That is the sort of joy of of putting together a story and a collaborative process. The COVID restrictions has had a huge impact, I think, on the experience, just in general, of being an actor.
Hal: Yeah, I’m so glad hopefully it’s [over]. I mean, I don’t even know. Is it coming to an end? But, yeah, it gets a bit depressing a little bit when everyone’s wearing masks. Also, yeah, taking direction from a director, and you can’t really see what their emotions are or how they’re feeling, because they’re wearing a big mask and a face shield.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
The Walking Dead: World Beyond – Series finale airs December 5th at 10pm ET/9c on AMC and will be available one week early on AMC+
Season two of The Walking Dead: World Beyond concludes the epic story of Iris (Aliyah Royale), Hope (Alexa Mansour), Elton (Nicolas Cantu), and Silas (Hal Cumpston) — four friends who journeyed across the country on a mission that transformed everything they knew about themselves and the world. As they face off against the mysterious Civic Republic Military and fight for control of their own destiny, goals will shift, bonds will form and crumble, and innocence will be both lost and found.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond is executive produced by co-creator Scott M. Gimple, co-creator and showrunner Matt Negrete, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert and Brian Bockrath, and is produced and distributed by AMC Studios. In addition to Royale, Mansour, Cantu and Cumpston, the series stars Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru, Julia Ormond, Joe Holt, Jelani Alladin, Natalie Gold and Ted Sutherland.
Episode 210: The Last Light
The remaining members of the group fight back enemies, both living and dead, on their quest to save the future.
Written by: Matthew Negrete, Maya Goldsmith, Carson Moore
Directed by: Loren Yaconelli
Proofread and Edited by Brenda