Fear The Walking Dead Interviews (Part 3) – Elizabeth Rodriguez & Lorenzo James Henrie
In the third part of my Fear The Walking Dead interviews with the cast at Comic Con, I spoke with Elizabeth Rodriguez and Lorenzo James Henrie who play mother Liza and son Chris. If you missed the previous two interviews, you can read my interview with Rubén Blades & Mercedes Mason here and my interview with Kim Dickens & Alycia Debnam-Carey here.
Can you explain your characters? Because we don’t really know too much about them yet.
Elizabeth Rodriguez: We know slightly more. So I play Liza Manawa and I am Cliff Curtis’ ex-wife and this is Cliff Curtis’ son played by Lorenzo Henrie.
Lorenzo James Henrie: Christopher.
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Christopher. So we had him when we were young and I put my life, my dreams sort of on the back burner to do this family and 12 years later, I realized that Travis played by Cliff [Curtis] isn’t changing much and so we decided to part. It’s amicable and so I’m pretty much a single mom. He goes away with him sometimes but his character is now involved with the Clarks and her kids which require more energy. So I’m very protective of him. I go back to school to be a nurse because I don’t have time to go back to school to become a doctor so I’m sort of burning the candle on both ends.
So I’m a little bit protective of him when it comes to his dad in terms of like, “If you say you’re going to do something, do it.” And then things happen [laughing] as they want to do in apocalypses and we all come together. The Clarks and my family, we all end up coming together. What would you like to say about your character, Lorenzo Henrie?
Lorenzo James Henrie: Christopher. Christopher is a kid that is very angry and upset. He’s a 16-year-old sophomore in high school. He’s very wounded from his father because his father you know, broke a promise to family unity, to family bond and it sort of built a resentment in him and you sort of see the journey of you know the backdrop of this broken family trying to come together and him finding the balance of loving his father again or not really loving his father again and also you know protecting his mom because he loves his momma. So that’s Christopher.
So it is more a family drama instead of a horror show?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Absolutely. Absolutely and that’s the backdrop. It’s a family drama with a lot of complex relationships and figuring it all out and it’s what happens when these families come together and have to deal with things that are unexplained that we don’t know what they are and who knows what at what point and how do we maneuver in the world while we’re trying to figure out what the rules are and also protect ourselves, and hold on to our values.
Do your think the zombies are a kind of metaphor or are they just a means of breaking up life and the ordinary?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Well, we don’t know that they don’t fully exist in this episode. We don’t know what they are. The incredible thing I think is the audience or the fans are a step ahead of us, if not more than one step ahead of us. None of this family has watched “The Walking Dead,” so we have no idea what it is. Is it a pandemic? You know, I think it’s not a metaphor. It could be anything you know? It could be a natural disaster. It could be ISIS. It could be anything that will create and does create in the world a sort of incredible, traumatic experience where it becomes about survival and holding onto what you know or trying to hold on to who you are, your values, as they continue to change at rapid speeds while you’re trying to survive and protect your loved ones. How does that work when these three families are thrown into the same world? There’s that.
But it’s still a The Walking Dead show. For the viewers, there will be certain expectations in regards to the terror and the zombies.
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Absolutely. Yeah, which I think this show does bring that. It brings it in little bursts where the viewers know what it is while we don’t. You know, so I think that is where the excitement of you know, “Oh, don’t go in there. You don’t want to do that.” Oh, you know. They know the rules and so I think that level of the viewers knowing what we don’t know is what’s phenomenal. But we figured it out at rapid speed.
It starts out as a slow burn and then things happen really fast. And so I think that’s the most exciting part is the not knowing what the rules are. That’s where all the fear is, you know. Not knowing who’s really alive, who’s not? It’s your neighbour… do they have no choice? Are they going to be able to take care of what this is? Is this something that can be cured? Is the government taking care of us? Is it local just in L.A.? You’re just under the assumption that it’s all going to be taken care of and not like cut to two months later, you know, three weeks later and you’re in the world of “The Walking Dead.” It’s a companion show and the beauty of it is that it happens in the time period where Andy [Lincoln]’s character is in a coma. And so that’s exciting because while that was going on, the world was going on and this is just sort of like dropping to a different part of the country, Los Angeles, which is an incredibly amazing place to work because it’s a character in and of itself, dropping into Los Angeles and what was gong on while he was in a coma and living day-to-day of these people and how they are getting into a place where when he woke up it already happened.
Do you think the fact that this is a show in an urban setting is important?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Absolutely. You know I think a place like L.A. with so many people, with so many races and religions and so on, they could be amongst us all the time and you just think they are like crazy or homeless or on drugs and they can get away at being amongst us much longer in an urban America.
So we’re finally going go to see people walking in L.A.?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Well, [laughing] yeah, you are because we’re not… The exciting thing is also that it’s not being shot like what we see – the parts of L.A. that we see. We don’t see you so much. It’s in the working class community El Cerrito, which is like the oldest city. It was established ten years before L.A. was established. It’s a tight knit community of multicultural working class so you get that. You get like the neighbors who have lived there for a long time. We were shooting there and I asked the neighbour next door how long he’s been there? 30 years he’s been in this house. So you get that. You don’t get the transplant Los Angeles Hollywood.
How do you see the walkers? They’re actors with make up obviously but did they freak you out a bit?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: They did the first one I saw. We ended up doing a lot of laughing and like messing around. I think because of the trauma that you bring home like this could be happening, obviously we hope not as walkers, but like all over the world. You can connect it to 9/11, Katrina, that’s what I know from the United States being an American so you see this thing and it’s so freaky that I sort of end up being very clown-y, because it’s really traumatic even though it’s make up. When you emotionally go through something, your body knows it’s not real. So I can’t help it but be sort of full on like “This is amazing!”
So are we going to see any walkers in the first episode?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: We don’t know who they are. We don’t know. We don’t know that they are walkers. We don’t know any of that. You know what I mean? We figure things out later on. All the fans will be very, very happy to see things and go, “Oh, we know what that is!”
Lorenzo James Henrie: She didn’t say anything by the way.
So how can we imagine everything happening in the beginning? Is there still a massive crowd of people? Or is everything silent?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: Both. You get all sorts of things. The power goes in and out. Obviously to make it work, there has to be a breakdown in communication early on, but there’s a bit of things that you get to see that you don’t understand and neither are the masses. You get a sense that the government is taking care of it. With all the riots that have happened in this country, you could just assume it’s just another riot for whatever reason.
In L.A. also, there’s like freeway chases with cops all the time and you don’t even bother to turn on the TV to see it. You’re just bored. So that’s kind of exciting that the things you feel are kind of normal for a while and then there might be a glimpse of something that you just don’t understand, but the fans will. We’re like, that was odd, whatever. You start thinking at first. Well, I must have seen something because the mind takes a long time to wrap itself around something like any of this. So you make excuses to what it could be that fits into the logic world that you know. So you see glimpses of things you guys will be like “The signs were all there! They were all there!” [laughing]
It sometimes feels like we as viewers are preparing ourselves for a future apocalypse, by watching these shows. How do you feel about that?
Elizabeth Rodriguez: There’s no getting prepared. It’s like there’s nothing we can get prepared for because we don’t know anything. We don’t know how we’re going to react, who we are going to be in these scenarios. There are these questions of like, “Who you’re going to save, what parts of your values are you willing to compromise? How much are you willing to compromise along the way?” I mean I think of anyone who’s survived anything, you know, losing all their limbs, all these things that you like – I think the will of survival, the thing that is deep is the wanting to live. I think we all believe we have limit as to where we wouldn’t go farther and it’s because we want it like ourselves, but along the way, you have to make choices between bad decisions and worse decisions and you see people right? And you see the will of life that will make people do things and live and survive, do things that seem catastrophic.
Fear The Walking Dead premieres globally on 23rd August and on 31st August in the UK.