By Dalton Ross
September 30, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT
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The Walking Dead: World Beyond

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First, we were given clues on The Walking Dead. Then, they took Rick Grimes away. Who were they? What did they want? Where did they get that helicopter? What's with the three rings? And what the hell is an A and a B? So many questions about this mysterious new group.

Then, we learned a bit more on Fear the Walking Dead, especially when Althea ended up forming a bond with a soldier from the group named Isabelle. It turns out they are called the CRM, and while information has been scarce on this mysterious organization, we are about to get a big download of it with the Oct. 4 debut of The Walking Dead: World Beyond on AMC.

While showrunner Matt Negrete (who co-created the series along with Scott M. Gimple) already explained how the third scripted series in the Walking Dead franchise will differ from the others and actually feel a bit more like Stand By Me, now Negrete reveals that we are also about to learn a lot more about the CRM, or Civic Republic Military.

Not only will we meet a woman Negrete describes as "the face of this organization" in Julia Ormond's Elizabeth Kublek, but we will learn more about how the Civic Republic operates, which other communities they operate with, and what exactly they are trying to accomplish. "What we do throughout season 1 is we start peeling back the layers of the onion that is this mysterious group," Negrete says. "And that will continue into season 2. We just learn more and more about them, and how they operate. They will be mysterious for a bit, but as the series goes on, we'll learn more about their motives, what they're up to, and why they're up to what they're up to."

Read on for more on the CRM, how the zombies of World Beyond will be different, and whether we might see any characters from other Walking Dead shows pop up at some point.

Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Where Walking Dead shows start off is not necessarily where they end up. The original series began in Georgia, and now it's in Virginia and moving into other places as well. Fear started out in L.A., went to Mexico, and then traveled to Texas. So we'll see where World Beyond goes. We know we're at least starting in Nebraska. Why Nebraska?

MATT NEGRETE: For us, it was really about looking at a different part of the country that we hadn't seen before. And so the thing that's hopefully intriguing about this show is we introduced the idea of not only a larger universe, but that other first-world communities survive the apocalypse. There are bigger cities potentially that are still standing here, or at least portions of cities. That was the thing that was intriguing. And one of these is we wanted to be in the middle of the country for reasons that might be a little spoilery. We can't really get too much into that, but Nebraska just seemed like it was right. Smack dab in the middle.

And essentially, like you said, it is a series that's going to move around a little bit, especially in season 1. Season 1's pretty much quest-based. There's a goal there that's very much quest-based, and they have a specific destination in mind. I will say that season 2, it's less of a quest. They know where they're going and they pretty much get there. It's about what happens once they get there. So that's one of the distinguishing factors pretty much between season 1 and season 2.

You're well familiar with the CRM group, having worked on The Walking Dead. We've seen them pop up there and pop up on Fear, but just kind of in bits and pieces. How big a part of this story is that group?

The story couldn't exist without them, I'm going to put it like that. They're very mysterious. As we will see in the pilot, they don't say a lot about themselves. There's this alliance that our characters and the area where they're from have with the Civic Republic Military. It's a little tenuous, because this organization is so secret. So what we do throughout season 1 is we start peeling back the layers of the onion that is this mysterious group, and that will continue into season 2.

We just learn more and more about them, and how they operate. They will be mysterious for a bit, but as the series goes on, we'll learn more about their motives, what they're up to, and why they're up to what they're up to. So that's been exciting, and Julia Ormond, who is the face of this organization, she's amazing. I could write monologues for her. Just hearing her voice as I write these words, and she just makes them sing. She's amazing. So I am looking forward to do ramping back up production for season 2 and working with her again.

Will any Walking Dead or Fear the Walking Dead characters show up in season 1 of World Beyond?

Okay, I will say in totality in the series, never say never. There will be references that may imply that certain characters have maybe crossed paths, potentially. I would say that you can be watching and you can find out with the rest of the world. "Never say never" is the short version of the long answer.

Fair enough. We obviously have zombies in all the shows, but sometimes they have different names — you're calling them "empties" here. And sometimes they can look a little different too. There's a little bit of a different vibe. What are the zombies going to look like in this environment, and how might they be a little different than what we've seen before?

We're 10 years into the apocalypse in our show when it kicks off, and that's a big story point that we hit early on, and 10 years in, there is more decay. There's one empty in episode 2, it literally made me gag. I was dry heaving, just from the sketches that Greg Nicotero and his team put together. I have this thing, and my assistant Anna has it too, where holes in nature disgust you. And it's a weird thing, but I have a visceral physical reaction when I see things like that. Trypophobia is what it's called.

We were in Richmond. I think I was driving her to set, and then she was like, "Oh, don't forget to look at the sketches that Greg put together. And she showed me at the stoplight. And then she started like, "Oh, God, I don't know if I can look at this." And I was like, "What's wrong?" And then she showed me the picture, and it was the concept art of this empty and there were honeycombs on its jaw. And there were wasps living inside it, essentially. It just triggered this thing I have. And both of us, we're at a stoplight in this Kia rental car in Richmond, just dry heaving. I would say to look for maximum disgust in empties, but there are some good memes coming up. So I'm excited for people to see them.

How much of a threat are they? Because let's look at the regular Walking Dead: There are certain arcs where the zombies are the main threat. And there are other times where the humans are more the main threat and the zombies are more of a nuisance that have to be dealt with by some people that have become very skilled at dealing with them. So how much are the zombies the threat, and how much of it is something else?

It's definitely a combination of both. I would say in season 1, it's maybe 50-50. The thing with our heroes is they know that you need to basically penetrate the brainstem to dispatch an empty, but they've never done it before. And they're using methods that are pretty much new to them. It's one thing to watch Daryl and Michonne and Carol on The Walking Dead. It's secondhand to them. It's like they could almost do it in their sleep. But for these characters, I can try to put myself in their shoes, and if the apocalypse happened and suddenly there was this flesh-eating monster trying to kill me, it's definitely a scary thing, but also, I'm not good with the machete. I can barely cut broccoli. This is where our characters are at.

So if there's a flesh-eating person walking towards me, that's a scary thing. And to be able to hold them back, especially if they're bigger than you and they have this voracious appetite — to be able to grab a weapon and to stab it just the way you need to stab it to dispatch, it's tougher than it would be for someone who's been doing it for 10 years. So that makes them very much a threat. And they're also some human threats as well that our group will come across in season. And as the season and the series goes on, the Civic Republican Military will have a bigger and bigger presence, and they potentially will also be a bigger and bigger threat to our heroes. So yeah, they got it coming at them from all sides, pretty much.

What was filming in Richmond like?

It's a great little city, and it was just hot. It's a lot like Georgia. It's very humid. I feel so bad for our actors because most of them were wearing either leather jackets, or one of the characters, Elton, wears this big corduroy jacket, and it's so thick that empties can't bite through it. As a result, they were just sweating nonstop, and I felt so bad for them.

And then there was one day when I was on set, and midnight kicked in, and all of a sudden the temperature dropped, the wind came in, and it got freezing, And I was like, "How did it just drop 20 degrees in a span of an hour? By the time we were shooting the last episode, we were doing night shoots outdoors. And the second-to-last night, it was 23 degrees. And we were just outdoors, exposed the entire time. And I just lost feelings in all my extremities. So hats off to the cast and the crew for doing what they do for so many hours a day for months at a time, because it's tough work, but they kick some ass.

For more Walking Dead franchise scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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