'Walking Dead' star Melissa McBride talks about Carol's big threat
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only of you have already watched Sunday’s “Forget” episode of The Walking Dead.]
Carol will do whatever it takes to protect the group. And we learned tonight on The Walking Dead that includes threatening little children to feed them to zombies if they blow her cover. After being caught stealing guns by precocious, cookie-loving Sam, Carol got all up in the tyke’s grill and warned him that if he told anyone what he had seen that he would be tied to a tree and that the monsters outside “will tear you apart and eat you all up, all while you’re still alive. All while you can still feel it. And then afterwards, no one will ever know what happened to you.” Orrrrrrr…he could have cookies! (And keep her secret.)
It was an eerie, scary scene, although Melissa McBride (who plays Carol) says shooting it was “fun.” We talked to McBride about filming that tense encounter, whether Carol is now a villain, and that snazzy new wardrobe. (Also make sure to read our episode Q&A with Norman Reedus.)
EW: First off, I love undercover Carol. And it started right with that first taped interview with Deanna where she’s lying about her past and talking about how she’d like to join the Junior League. Talk about why she formulates that plan, seemingly on the fly without telling anyone.
MELISSA McBRIDE: I think when she feels uncertain with a threat, she’s going to throw that out there just to be safe. And also, is she really lying? [Laughs] Let’s go waaaaay back. Maybe she was a people person. Hey, she’s a people person. She loves people!
Depends on the people.
Yeah, who knows? There was all that potential with Ed in the beginning, the one she married! [Laughs] But yeah, she’s just being very careful and strategizing again. To go into this unknown situation like that, this is a tactic that she is used to, having to put on this face.
Is Carol even capable of trusting any more?
She is totally capable of trusting, but she’s gonna be safe. She’s aware of the threats. She and her group have been out there long enough. And they’re also very different people and this episode now is where all of this meets in the middle with this place. And bringing up who you even were before all of this even started and who you’ve become now that they’ve been in it for so long—their world and the world of our group and trying to create this new world mingling them together—it’s just bizarre watching that episode and thinking how utterly bizarre it is for our group to walk into this town and then after all that they’ve been through suddenly we’re at a welcome party? The idea is just absurd. It’s got to be surreal. So yeah, that feeling is too good to be true for someone like Carol. Who knows what she went through and how she caught that in her mind—like was Ed like this before all along and he just put up this front? And then he became abusive? Or was he an asshole this whole time? And that’s back then. And pulling us up now to where we are in this world, they all have a lot from their past that they’re pulling forward. And for Carol it’s also a very tactical move and something she’s not used to.
It’s interesting the way the audience has reacted similarly to Carol and how if you read the comments online, people were not trusting this community at all when you guys walked in.
Well, they’ve taken this journey with us and understand where their minds are. Then again, in the center of this place, all of these things are starting to collide—the desire for normalcy, remembering those parts of ourselves and how life was before all of this, wanting that so badly, but then truly knowing because we’ve experienced it, how the world really is. What’s the reality here? And it’s just behind these walls. And these walls are not safe. Like Rick said, we can just climb up the supports.
Okay, let’s talk about that big scene where this kid Sam catches you stealing the guns and you basically get all up in his face and threaten him that he will be eaten alive by zombies if he tells on you. Pretty intense stuff. What were your thoughts when you first read that scene?
I loved the scene. I was like, this is going to be such a fun scene to do. And Major Dodson [who plays Sam] is such an awesome kid. I feel like we hit it off right away. We share a similar humor and he’s curious and precocious and funny. I was really looking forward to doing that scene. I thought, she’s telling us a story. Story time! [Laughs] In a way. But also, wow! What an interesting way for her to again protect the group at all costs because she’s trying very hard to keep her place so that she can go undercover and watch to see what’s going on and know who these people are. And that’s so important—the survival of her group, and also the people within the walls. And the children—him, too. She’s got work to do, and if you tell anyone what’s going on, this is what could happen. And, really, that’s what could happen, you know? This is not unlike her teaching the children how to protect themselves. This child is unaware of this threat that is out there. They’re sheltered. They don’t know what’s going on. But if my cover is blown, some bad things could happen.
But the implication to him is that you’re the one who is going to do these bad things to him if he tells on you.
And that’s okay with her. That’s okay. She’s cornering him and really driving that threat home.
What was shooting that like with Major, because that adds a whole other level when you have to do say these horrible things to a child, I imagine?
He’s a really good little actor. He was in that scene, and when we cut he’s Major Dodson again—I love that name.
It’s a great name. He has to go into the military at some point.
And he’s major good. He played it and he knew on an actor’s level what we were doing and he was present and we were doing it. And then as soon as they called “cut,” he was fine. He’s very preoccupied between cuts. He is very into photography and has his cameras and pulls those out. It was intense, but we were working as actors and it was really fun working with him.
Perspective is so interesting, because let’s say this show has not been following you all, but following the people of Alexandria this whole time. And then these strangers show up, and this one woman goes and steals the guns and threatens a little boy to kill him in barbaric fashion if he tells on her—now Carol’s the villain, right?
Yeah! If you don’t know her and you don’t know what’s up, then that’s true. I don’t want to repeat exactly what you just said, but yeah, Dalton, you’re right.
It’s kind of fascinating because we love Carol and how she will do whatever it is that needs to be done to protect this group, but when you see it from this other angle and not knowing the backstory and the people, it’s like, whoa, this person is bad news!
Oh, yeah. If this was the first episode anybody ever saw of The Walking Dead they would think, Whoa! There’s a threat right there. It’s so obvious. How can they not see that? Why are they just letting her walk around? And then it’s just binge watch The Walking Dead to understand what’s going on.
I have to know: What are your thoughts on Carol’s new wardrobe? Nice duds!
Oh, wow. We had so much fun with that. I remember working it out with [costume designer] Eulyn Womble and we were going through the options, and so many we would just get such a kick out of and then be like, “No, that’s just too much.” She worked hard to find a good balance of what we see. It was very different from what we’ve seen so it would make an impact. And Carol can play it, you know? But it was so fun getting to set the first day I shot in that first outfit—the one that Daryl said was ridiculous. I got out of the van and got into the center of the town and the van pulls away and I’m standing there in the road. [Laughs] Everyone’s standing around and it all kind of stopped and everybody turned and started laughing and going “WHAT?!? Oh my gosh! What’s going on? Is that really your wardrobe, Melissa?”
Greg Nicotero, who directed that episode, told me that Norman ad-libbed that “you looks ridiculous” line.
He did. It was so much fun. I’m walking and he’s like “You look ridiculous!” and I’m like “Thank you!” The memes that are coming out are really funny.
What’s it like filming not just in those clothes but in in the entire Alexandria setting which—unlike, say, the prison—is this nice, sunny community with porches and stuff. And not only that, but it is a real community with people living there in real life and mail trucks going through and interrupting filming and stuff like that.
I know! It was mirroring real life. It was bizarre to me to see people because we’re shooting scenes in this town and you see the curtains move in somebody’s window and there’s people living in there! And you look over and they wave and then the mail truck comes through. It’s bizarre! It really is bizarre! And it’s just like that. This is what is also going on in our scenes and in our story. This environment is very different and it does take getting used to, because people are watching and you don’t want spoilers out. You’re like, Are they really supposed to be here? Are they inviting friends over to watch the filming? Who do you trust? Where are the holes in our set where people can get in? And is that really a crew person? And isn’t that wall supposed to be shut over there? But getting back to it, yes, I’m sure Carol is looking forward to getting out of those clothes.