The Walking Dead: Actors’ evasive interview skills


The stories on The Walking Dead are well guarded secrets. Even the trailers and previews are designed to mislead and misdirect the fans slightly in order to keep the mysteries a mystery. Scott Gimple said at Comic-Con that they “play with the truth” a bit in the trailers.

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I like the way Lennie James described it in his interview with

Access Hollywood

–he said that the trailer isn’t meant to be taken literally, but rather thematically. It doesn’t reveal actual events or plot points that fans can discern from the what they see or from the editing.

We can see, or more accurately, feel or sense the tone, emotion and themes going into the season. It’s a smart observation and I think a smart approach by the producers.

Having said all that, actors do interviews and fans crave information. I’ve said many times that The Walking Dead is the master of whipping up excitement without revealing anything. This is not a criticism and it is not an easy thing to manage.

I’ve always fantasized that in addition to Zombie School the producers have a School of Vaguery and Misdirection.  A Wizard School of interview techniques. The actors can’t just hem and haw or bat their eyes and say, “no comment” for every interview. And they can’t put their eyes up in their heads for several minutes for each question searching for what they can and cannot reveal.

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They need to seem prepared–as if they are giving away all kinds of information yet just holding back that tiny bit at the end with their little,

“we’ll have to see how that translates into…”


“yes, that’s going to be really interesting to see what happens there.”


Here are some of the tips I imagine Scott, Robert and Gale to give the actors in there Wizard of Walking Dead Evasive Interview Skills 101 class:

  • Smile and Nod. Agree with interviewer. And repeat what they said using your own words and personality.
  • Nod and Eyebrow Furrow: Disagree with interviewer politely and give your own spin on their comment or question.
  • Nostalgia: Bring up anything and everything that has happened in past episodes and in the past for your character.
  • Deflect to the fans: Do anything and everything to talk about how the fans will feel or how they will react and not tell anything about what’s actually happenning. (ie.  “I think fans will be shocked, fans wiIl love it, fans will be blown away,” etc.)
  • Look up synonyms for intense, big, incredible, etc. Use descriptive words as much as possible.
  • Humor and mystery: Use humor about not be able to disclose things. (ie. “Yes, there will be lots of walkers this season and some will get killed.”)
  • Cast and crew: Talk about the experience and the fun of the work.

Two of my favorites to listen to in interviews are Danai Gurira and Lennie James. Danai is so smart and has really thought about her character and her vocabulary is impressive and so much fun to take in. She’s extremely fluid and comfortable talking about Michonne and about The Walking Dead. I could listen to her for hours.

Lennie James is new to the interview scene, but as I mentioned in a recent article I wrote, he has a refreshing candor and has taken the advanced class in evasive interview skills. He tells you straight forwardly everything he can and let’s you know beforehand that this is what he can or is allowed to say. Then without any hint of apology, and a huge smile tells you if there are things on which he “couldn’t possibly comment!”

As I mentioned, this evasiveness is not a criticism, it’s an admiration. I wrote about the cryptic expectations for season 6 back around season 5 finale time. This is something fun, frustrating and thrilling about The Walking Dead!

Next: Lennie James has been let out of a cave!

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