The Walking Dead's Sarah Wayne Callies and IronE Singleton Talk Death, Moral Dilemmas, and Lots More!
How did it feel watching your final episode?
IronE Singleton: Wow, it was surreal. I didn't get an opportunity to watch it in its entirety, but I did "The Talking Dead" and watching it in the studio it was just kind of a surreal experience. It was like, "Wow, it's over." Bittersweet. But I am totally and completely satisfied with how the show ran. I think that the show was a success of a brilliant team of individuals; everybody coming together doing their part. I'm just so pleased to have been part of something so special, so historical.
Did you have an idea that you were going to go out like this when you signed on? And what was your reaction when you finally read the death scene and how you went out sort of like a bad-ass hero?
IronE Singleton: Thank you so much. I had no idea how I was going to go out so heroically at the beginning because when I was first cast in the show I was told that I would do two, maybe three episodes. But I ended up staying on the show for three seasons. So how miraculous is that? So I'm very thankful for that. And when I get the phone call, the death call I call it, they were very gracious and appreciative of what I'd done, the entire executive team. So I was just very thankful to receive a phone call and to be respected in that sense. And when I read the script they told me I was going to die and I was looking forward to reading the script. When I read it I was thankful that he would go out heroically as a hero. So it made me feel really appreciated.
So if you have a moral dilemma and you're on the side of the angels apparently you die in the show? You kind of had the same attitude as Dale about, "No we keep them alive. It'll be all right."
IronE Singleton: Yes I've seen that before. They said that once you have that moment when you kind of start to appeal to everybody's conscience and to kind of be the voice of reason, you get the bite or something like that happens to you. So it's interesting how that goes. And I thought about that too; I was like, oh wow, kind of like Dale in a more convinced, abridged fashion and next thing you know he's getting bitten.
You are one of the few characters that came in with no baggage because most of the other characters were from the comic aside from a couple new creations. Did you find that that was more liberating coming in as your character was being literally written for the television show?
IronE Singleton: Exactly. I think it was very liberating because as an actor you start with a clean slate and there's nothing more liberating about starting with something that is not written. So you pretty much create the history of that character; you create that character's vigor, meaning, that character's life story. So whatever you do, whatever you come up with, whatever you decide on, we can go with it and if the director or if the execs like it, then you'll stick with it. So that's a good thing as opposed to having something that's already written, that's pared down with who your character is.
What's it like being ripped apart by zombies? Not the fictional part, but the actual television part of having to sit there and get the appliances and the blood pumps and all that stuff hooked up to you? It's all quite a complicated process to do when you're supposed to be acting your ass off in the middle of it, isn't it?
IronE Singleton: Well I guess that's like anything else; that's like the nature of the business. With film you stop and go, you stop and go. You have to take first takes and 20 takes or whatever. So I'm kind of used to it because I've been doing this for a while. As far as getting my flesh ripped apart by a zombie; it feels really good. It's a great feeling; you should try it sometime.
Do you think having a baby in the group is more horrifying or gives you a sense of hope…a small glimmer of hope for the show and for the survivors?
IronE Singleton: All of the above. Because now, we have a baby. We have a baby in the apocalypse and apocalyptic wars. So most of the decisions are going to have to gravitate around, does it affect the baby. The mood at the same time, there's hope that it is like this rebirth of innocence if you will because it died with Sophia. And so, maybe that will test us too, as far as humanity is concerned. Maybe it'll try to help us to get back to that in recognizing the innocence in that little baby. A child has a way of making you change for the better. And I think about my relationship with my children. I think that was worth mentioning. When my daughter was born, I was nowhere near where I am now. And my daughter, Heaven is her name by the way, took me to another level. So I said I have to become a better person in this life if I want to be an example, if I want to serve as a positive example for her I need to get better myself. So I think that's what it brings to the show, a baby does. As horrific as it is, it's also very gratifying also for humanity.
Are you willing to share any other kind of details about T-Dog that you learned or you and Robert talked about the character as far as what was being brought to that character that you didn't get to share it on screen?
IronE Singleton: Yes. I didn't have any conversations with Robert Kirkman or anybody else at the beginning or Frank or Glen or anybody like that. They didn't say anything character-wise about T-Dog if they were fine with what I brought to it. But what I did with my character was…whenever I have any character I try move back and forth as much as I can with any character that I'm playing as far as I can in my real life and bring that character as far up as I can in the present day. That way I won't have to do so much homework trying to find my character. So T-Dog basically had my life story. He grew up in the projects in the city and he was fortunate enough to get to college through a football scholarship and eventually academic scholarships and he majored in speech communications. The same as I did. I also majored in theater, but I didn't attach that to my character because it probably would've made him a little more dramatic. We're already dramatic enough on TV so I didn't want to add that to him. Then he graduated from college; he didn't make it to the pros but he came close. So he ended up getting a regular job. So that's how I devised my character for T-Dog.
What were some of your favorite memories and moments from the past seasons?
IronE Singleton: The entire process it was so great. I didn't have one bad day on the set. Every day was so beautiful. I looked forward to going in every day and shaking the hands and getting the hugs and the kisses. So it's so hard for me to pinpoint one day because every day was so glorious. Every day was so beautiful.
Since your character T-Dog isn't in the comic books, did you have a say in how he went out and did you say I want him to have the most bad-ass part within the group?
IronE Singleton: I didn't have a say directly, but I'm wondering if the execs would just listen to my interviews and I was asked when T-Dog dies how would you like to die or how would I like for him to go. And I said, "Just heroically." I would love him go out being the hero. And it makes me feel so good because in my mind I feel that's how I would like to go out as a person. So I can like really commit with that type of individual. So to go out a hero the way T-Dog did is very special to me.
Is there anything that you didn't get a chance to do on the show that you would've like to have done?
IronE Singleton: No, other than direct something like this…You know what, I would've liked to have had a scene with each individual cast member, like just a one on one. I only had a scene like that with Dale. A one on one with Jeffrey DeMunn, Dale, and that was really special for me. So yes if I could do it again, then I probably would do a one on one with everybody.
Would you liked to have had a one on one with Merle?
IronE Singleton: You know what, just for the fans, right? I mean because they were so looking forward to that. They were like, "Oh, when you and Merle get back together it's going to be some kind of encounter." And I wanted to give them that. And people are still talking about it. They're like, "Merle! Okay you're dead. But Merle never put a bullet in T-Dog's head." So maybe Merle can have that encounter with T-Dog's zombie. You just never know…and that would be special.
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