November 06, 2018 at 11:30 AM EST


One of the weary, yet capable, warriors in a group of survivors, Yumiko is fearless and kind, and skilled at the bow. Played by Eleanor Matsuura (Into the Badlands, Wonder Woman)

Gene Page/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was the audition process like?
ELEANOR MATSUURA: I made a tape. It was a scene that had nothing to do with the show and I even read in a different accent. A few days later Angela wanted to meet me but I live in London, so we set up a Skype meeting and we talked for a long time. She walked me through everything she envisioned for Yumiko. She told me about season 9 and Rick’s departure and how our characters enter the world of The Walking Dead. By the time we finished talking, I was so excited by the idea of becoming part of this story, I knew it would be a very difficult thing to say no to! I confess I’d never watched an episode before, so I binged all 8 seasons in about 4 weeks. I don’t know the exact math but that’s a hell of a lot of zombies.

How would you describe Yumiko?
Yumiko is a fighter and a protector, but she’s thoughtful and knows how to keep a level head. She is fiercely loyal to her girlfriend Magna and the rest of her group whom she considers family. We’ve been surviving on the road together for a long time and I would do anything for them in order to keep them safe, including putting myself on the firing line and breaking the rules once in a while.

Did you check out the comic book version of Yumiko after you landed the part?
Being a character from the comic books is one of the coolest things that’s happened to me, so of course I had to check them out! But the truth is, our characters’ lives on the show are quite different to the comics and the more we film the show, the more we inhabit our characters and own them so now I haven’t read one in a while. I still I love to reference them though every so often and see what’s happening in that world.

What was it like joining the cast as you had a bunch of newbies coming in together to this hit show in the middle of its ninth season?
I’m excited and grateful. It’s a huge thing to join a show that is so loved and cherished by many, but I get to experience it with the greatest bunch of people. Nadia, Dan, Lauren and Angel are the most talented, fun and generous actors. I feel really honored to be a part of such a special group and that we get to board this crazy rollercoaster together.

How would Eleanor Matsuura do in a real zombie apocalypse?
I ain’t afraid of no zombie! Like Yumiko, as long as I had my crew with me, I’d be just fine. (Continues on next page.)

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AMC’s zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.
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