Kim Dickens stars as Madison Clark in “Fear the Walking Dead,” which returns to AMC April 10.
When “The Walking Dead” broke ratings records, a spinoff was inevitable. When “Fear the Walking Dead” broke ratings records of its own, a second season was inevitable. In the first season of “Fear the Walking Dead,” Kim Dickens played a high school counselor trying the balance career and family as Los Angeles is plagued by an unknown epidemic. In the second season, with a full-on zombie apocalypse, she has to balance family and survival.
Dickens thinks that balance might be the key to the show’s popularity.
“I think that’s why this genre is so fascinating. The audience can relate to those primal fears that we have. What if we are not protected? What if society is crumbling around me? What if the government is not taking care of me? What if there is an outbreak? You can fantasize about what you would do. It’s an exciting story to tell to such life-and-death stakes. You really get to explore all the human values and the ethics of society and how that shifts.”
People have often lamented that women aren’t offered enough fully realized characters. With such high stakes in such a complex situation, the show allows her to play a complex character dealing with these high stakes.
“I have been fortunate in my career to always play complex multidimensional women, and this is no different. She is a full-blooded woman, and she is fierce, strong and flawed. She is a badass. It’s been really, really fun to play.”
With all of the complex shows and characters on television now, many people say that we are living in the Golden Age of Television right now. Dickens agrees and is happy to be a part of it.
“I love working in television. I think it is a golden age. The roles and the storytelling that’s happening on television versus film is dense, colorful and nuanced; it’s really fun to play,” she says. “It’s like walking around in a novel. It’s very rewarding for me to be an actor in that medium.”
The complexity and popularity of “The Walking Dead” universe is a testament to the creativity of the people behind the scenes.
“To get to be in a show with such a visionary like [creator] Robert Kirkman is incredible. The stories blow us away. We explore what people would naturally do – the path they would naturally take to try to reconcile what’s happening with their morals and how people would strive to get back to normal because the human spirit is so resilient. [Producer and special effects makeup artist] Greg Nicotero and his team do phenomenal work to make these walkers so believable, haunting and tortured in a way. It’s a dense beautiful, beautiful genre to work in.”
Though the cast finds time to have fun together, the show is about the end of the world as we know it, so some scenes can be grueling to shoot.
“We are usually playing these intense high stakes all the time. It requires a lot of focus, and you don’t get to goof off too much during the workday. A scene that was very challenging for me was the scene in Season One when I had to sort of smack down my son. I understood the emotion of it, but I was just a little bit timid to play it. It’s not for me to decide. You just have to trust the writers.”
“The Walking Dead” universe has created a very passionate fanbase. Sometimes with a passionate fanbase, fans can become a little too passionate. Dickens, however, has only had positive interactions with her fans so far.
“With this show, a lot more people see it than maybe some of the other shows I’ve done, but they are very generous on the street. The fanbase for ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Fear the Walking Dead’ are very passionate, very mobilized. As an actor, you know you want it to be shared. You want it to be seen. I always find that fans are just the greatest – especially for these genre pieces. Even ‘Deadwood’ is its own genre. The fans are just so into it. They’re so passionate, and it’s fun.”
Season 2 of “Fear the Walking Dead” premieres at 9 p.m. on Sunday, April 10 on AMC.