INTERVIEW: The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand talks season six
After a winter break spent wondering what would happen after Alexandria’s walls fell in the midseason finale, The Walking Dead has finally returned to FOX.
One relative newcomer to the series last season has been safe haven Alexandria promoter Aaron, portrayed by Ross Marquand. Aaron scouted Rick Grimes’ group and invited them to reside in the high security suburban paradise that was Alexandria, but trouble quickly followed.
We spoke to Marquand at Walking Dead fan convention Walker Stalker in London about the new series, the show’s infamous cast turnover rate and what characters he’d love Aaron to share more scenes with.
What’s been your reaction to the second half of the series?
It’s been wonderful. I get to see the episode on Monday out here. The reaction on Twitter and Facebook and Instagram was great to see from some of the American fans who’ve already seen it. We don’t get to see it ahead of time as well. It was fun but also unnerving to be on this side of the pod and not be able to see the finished product. There’s some big shocks this episode, and I think the rest of the season’s going to be more of the same. Nonstop action and terrible lovely things happening.
It feels like this season has, in terms of pacing, been the quickest one yet. I wondered if this was to offset the fact that Alexandria seemed like the safest place yet?
I think so. It’s kind of a Stepford Wives vibe in Alexandria. On a page it looks lovely, it’s this idyllic setting where everyone lives in harmony. There’s walkers outside the wall but you wouldn’t know it once you’re inside the gates. The Wolves and all these other new threats, that’s really becoming the focus moving forward in series six and it’s exciting to see fan reaction to that.
You were our entrance to Alexandria, and now you’re part of the core group. How does that feel?
It’s great. The world is expanding. In series past, they had a micro chasm of a setting here and a micro chasm of a setting here, they’re very self contained settings each season. This year we’re exploring the notion that we have this setting that we’ve come to know and we realise there’s all these new threats and dangers, and also new tribes and new cultures that they’re going to become acclimatised to.
Rick is starting to come on board with Aaron’s perspective, becoming more open to newcomers, caring and sharing. How long will that last?
Hopefully a while! There’s no telling with Rick. He kind of tethers this fine line between Rick and Shane. There’s that lovely bookend at the end of the episode where he’s sitting next to Carl and Carl’s unconscious and he’s kind of telling him I want you to wake up again so I can show you this new world that we’re building and I want you to see this (with your one eye). We’re starting to trust again, we’re starting to believe in the world again. That was the first time seeing the Alexandrians come out of their safe havens into the street, literally with hundreds of zombies walking around trying to kill them. To see that, to see them join him in the fight, I think that was Rick needed to see to be able to trust the Alexandrians.
Aaron bonded with Maggie in the first half of season 6. What do you think that bond could be?
They bonded over guilt initially. They both thought they were very much to blame for, not necessarily the Wolves’ attack, but the fracturing of the group. Maggie is motivated by the guilt of staying behind. [She wanted] to go with Glenn and help him out on that mission. And Aaron is just saying I really want to assuage some of the guilt I’m feeling and move forward. I think now the gates have finally secured you’re going to see more of that relationship. It’s not going to be based so much on guilt and shame, more so based on trust and faith in each other and actual friendship.
Is there a character you’d love to share more scenes with?
I loved the relationship he’s formed with Daryl, I think that’s a fantastic relationship. I love also seeing Aaron and Maggie play with each other. It was a union that started out of guilt and shame, but ultimately they found real strength in each other and I want to see this expanded on.
There’s a big time jump between episode 9 and 10. Are we gonna see much change for Aaron?
I think we’re going to see the entire community change. It’s a nice palette cleanser from where we are in 6.09 to 6.10, we needed that. It’s a necessary thing for the fans to recalibrate and understand who’s a part of this world, how it’s all changed, and also how have they coped with this terrible loss of Jessie and her children and all the countless Alexandrians who died in the attack. How do they all cope with that moving forward?
Your character is still relatively new in the grand scheme of things, but with the high turnover of the cast, do you now feel like an old hand?
No. When I first get on the show, because I’m a nerd, I did a statistical breakdown of how long most series regulars are on the show, and it’s about 1.2-1.3 seasons. That was a good bit of math to do. I don’t take it personally when I read the script. You hope you stay on as long as you can because it’s a hell of a show to work on. It’s so much fun.