You might need been in a position to determine it out from the title of the episode, however on this week’s The Strolling Lifeless, titled “Variant”, we meet… A brand new variant on the walkers we’ve recognized for 11 seasons thus far. Within the episode, Aaron (Ross Marquand) and firm are cornered at an deserted Renaissance Faire, and what they at first assume is a Whisperer (aka, a human sporting zombie pores and skin), seems to be a walker who can climb and open doorways.
“He’s making an attempt to maintain it collectively for the group, however I feel he’s very frightened,” Marquand informed Decider on the brand new kind of zombie. “I imply, this can be a large, large improvement and I feel he’s keenly conscious of simply how critical this may very well be. I don’t assume he’s taking it flippantly in any respect.”
As for the way this can all repay, TBD — it may very well be in the primary present, or maybe over within the Daryl Dixon spinoff which can discover Norman Reedus tangling with the quick walkers launched in The Strolling Lifeless: World Past, in France. Both means, Aaron has a number of extra episodes to go earlier than The Strolling Lifeless ends… And possibly some extra weirdness to cope with, too. We mentioned all that with Marquand, in addition to Aaron’s prospects for love. Learn on.
Decider: I needed to leap proper to the tip of the episode, the place we meet the variant of the title. Aaron dismisses it somewhat bit together with his, “Oh yeah. I’ve heard tales about this.” However regardless of his dismissal, how massive of a deal will this probably develop into going ahead?
Ross Marquand: He’s making an attempt to maintain it collectively for the group, however I feel he’s very frightened. I imply, this can be a large, large improvement and I feel he’s keenly conscious of simply how critical this may very well be. I don’t assume he’s taking it flippantly in any respect.
You, as an actor, have interacted with Walkers just about the identical means for years on the present. What’s it prefer to have one climbing over issues and opening doorways?
It’s fairly terrifying. It sort of jogged my memory of after I was a child watching Jurassic Park and seeing these velociraptors, controlling the door handles and simply pondering, “My God, what a terrifying thought.” Once they truly develop into actually considerably clever and are in a position to determine fundamental motor expertise and motor capabilities, that may be a terrifying idea to understand, and I’m simply excited to see what folks consider that.
And simply to be clear, when Aaron takes off what he thinks is the Whisperer masks, he’s truly peeling a zombie’s face off, proper?
Yeah. Which was one of many extra gross issues we’ve accomplished on the present and other people have already been… Once we have been on set, somebody was asking, “Is that this a reference to Pink Cranium?” And I used to be like, “No, I don’t assume so.” I imply, the particular results group on our present is simply, actually, I feel one of the best within the enterprise. I don’t assume anybody can dispute that. They actually make the whole lot look so goddamn actual that you’ve got a tough time forgetting that it’s make-up and prosthetics.
I do love that revelation there… It’s dangerous sufficient, the concept Whisperers possibly have chased them down and so they’re nonetheless current on this world, nevertheless it seems it’s one thing truly even worse.
Precisely. Additionally, I similar to the concept Aaron has the energy to have the ability to rip off somebody’s face. That’s fairly superior.
That’s nice. That’s going to be his go-to transfer any more.[Laughs] Yeah, precisely. Precisely. As an alternative of scalping, we simply rip folks’s faces off.
Leaping again although, you’ve this nice new Renaissance Faire set. What was it like engaged on that?
I actually was so tickled as a result of I feel me, Cooper [Andrews] and Cassady [McClincy] had all been there, independently, previous to filming. And I had been there I feel… I don’t know, I feel three years in the past with an excellent pal of mine. She was on the town doing one other mission. She was engaged on Stargirl, and we simply occurred to have our schedules sync up proper over the time when the honest was occurring.
And it was superb. I imply, it was simply so cool to return to a spot that had been such a supply of pleasure in actual life for all three of us. After which to work on a set that’s already sort of a set in its personal, however with out the merchandise and the common honest folks… It was an actual blast. I all the time went to Ren Faires as a child — and as an grownup, if I’m being trustworthy — nevertheless it was a whole lot of enjoyable. I actually loved that set. I feel that’s most likely my favourite set I’ve ever labored on, on the present.
Photograph: Jace Downs/AMC
So it sounds such as you’re a renaissance faire common. What’s your go-to if you go there? For me, I’ll say I all the time be certain to get an enormous turkey leg.
Effectively, I was a turkey leg and mead sort of man, simply stroll round double fisting. One with turkey leg, one with mead. However now I’ve switched to extra of a mead and corn on the cob kind of man. That’s sort of my go-to transfer.
You additionally get this actually great arc for Aaron. The place he’s not spying, however he’s trying on at Lydia’s relationship, cresting in a extremely lovely monologue about Eric who, as he calls out, he hasn’t talked about in a extremely very long time. What was it like enjoying that monologue within the midst of the whole lot else?
I beloved it. I imply, I feel the present works greatest after we are in a position to pepper in moments of actual human connection and pathos, as a result of that’s the explanation why we go on this journey. I’d assume if it was all simply motion and simply killing zombies and wiping them out, I feel it could get boring after some time and audiences would tune out. So we actually need to have these moments of actual character improvement and exhibiting the underlying motivations for why they’re the way in which they’re. And in addition revealing a little bit of who they have been earlier than the world ended, as a result of that’s… On the finish of the day, that’s what we’re all striving to get again to, is a few model of ourselves that we as soon as knew earlier than the apocalypse.
I simply love that monologue as a result of it actually will get to… You get to see what drove Aaron and Eric collectively, and that it wasn’t all rosy at first. It was truly a little bit of a combat and a little bit of a… It wasn’t simply instantly, proper off the bat, it was truly one thing that they needed to work at. And I really like that as a result of typically relationships aren’t all the time drawn up as these simple, excellent issues. And it appears like, a minimum of at first of their relationship, they actually needed to work at it.
And I used to be glad that we acquired that second to not solely impress that upon Lydia, but in addition have that second … between the 2 of them, as a result of Aaron has probably not totally trusted Lydia for a lot of instances through the years, simply because she was a Whisperer herself. Whereas he thinks she’s an excellent particular person, he’s conscious that she is a wildly traumatized particular person and may return to her outdated methods. So he’s, on this second, actually bringing her into the fold and saying, “I belief you with this. I belief you as an individual. Right here’s some recommendation. Warranted or not, it would allow you to.”
I do know, clearly, you recognize the place issues are going. However do you assume there’s an opportunity for love for Aaron at this level? And does Aaron assume there’s an opportunity for love, or does he really feel like all of that’s behind him?
You possibly can by no means rely it out fully, however that’s the furthest factor from his thoughts at this level. Simply staying alive and holding Alexandria afloat is… That’s crucial factor. Every part else, actually, defending his daughter is his foremost purpose, the sustainability of all these communities. However I imply, on the finish of the day, that every one needs to be glad first earlier than he’s going to permit himself to go there. As a result of he simply… He’s acquired loftier ambitions proper now.
Proper now, Aaron’s storyline, and the whole lot that’s occurring at Commonwealth appear very separate tracks. I assume sooner or later we should always anticipate them to start out colliding, as we head into these last episodes?
Yeah, completely. Whereas we do see these little bottle episodes the place sure teams are off doing their very own factor, cumulatively, we’ll see all of the teams come collectively.
And logistically or thematically, what does Aaron need as we head into these last few episodes?
What he’s needed all alongside, which is simply stability. He’s been a person on the street for some time now and he has, for almost all of the apocalypse, recognized of a considerably stability with Alexandria, although he and Eric have been all the time the primary ones to exit and recruit, in order that they have been typically on the street. He all the time knew he had a house base to return again to. And I don’t assume he has a house base proper now. Alexandria is taken over by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is clearly in utter turmoil. So discovering that sense of dwelling and stability is, I feel, his primary purpose and focus.
We’ve acquired three spinoffs within the works, assuming Aaron survives, may we see him pop up on any of these, or possibly get a by-product of his personal?
I’d love that. There’s a whole lot of if, ands, and what’s. I feel if he does make it to the tip, I’d in fact like to hold enjoying this man.
Simply to throw it on the market, based mostly on the romance factor, I’d like to see Aaron get a Bachelor type spinoff within the zombie apocalypse.
Okay. I like this concept.
I’ve acquired a reputation for it. Love is Lifeless.
Wow. I adore it. After which as a substitute of roses, what do I give the members?
In all probability faces? The faces that he’s ripped off.[Laughs] That’s actually… Aw, That’s actually heartwarming. Yeah. I prefer it.
This interview has been edited for readability and size.
The Strolling Lifeless airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC, and streams every week early on AMC+.