Lauren Ridloff, Paola Lazaro, Eleanor Matsuura, Khary Payton sat down to talk to us about the new season of The Walking Dead. Their characters; Connie, Princess, Yumiko and Ezekiel respectively, have a lot happening based on the trailer. Here is what they have to say about their last season.
Q. Lauren this question is for you. Will we be learning about what Connie went through after the cave as she was missing for a long time and of course, mingling with the walkers at that time? I feel like there’s a story there.
Lauren Ridloff: Yes, we will find out a bit more about Connie in the second part of the season, and I can’t wait for you to see what Connie has been facing. Of course.
Q. It is interesting, especially with the Commonwealth, what we’re seeing is going back to the way they’re controlling the individuals that are there. they are trying to evolve you back to your previous life, to where, to in a way to control you and, and to use you, even though it’s obvious that all of you have evolved to being the stronger individuals with survival instincts intact. Can you talk about how that is as a character experiencing that and seeing how that plays out?
Lauren Ridloff: One of the things that I have found very interesting about the season is that, as we actually enter the Commonwealth, we kind of go back to who we were before the apocalypse occurred and we are expected to put on our own clothes as if nothing has happened and no time has passed. As if the apocalypse bad dreams.
I think what you will see is that it really is a challenge. What we actually will see during the season is that we touch on a lot of different genres. It’s a lot of suspicions, some romance, some comedy, which really reflects real life right now. And I think one thing that really touched me about the shifts to the Commonwealth is that for such a long time, we have seen, the family and what I mean by family, is survivors from Alexandria, from the kingdom.
All of them working together and class didn’t really mean anything at that point. But now when we enter and twist the society, so to speak, which has been decided by an established by the Commonwealth, we find those same old issues, those same old problems that might have been resolved during the apocalypse, especially when you’re talking about class.
I guess also just have to add for Connie, I think we all know that in her previous life, she was a journalist and I think what journalists, in general, tend to value are chasing the truth. And I think that is the value that she believes in. And I think this is where and when it begins.
Q. In regards to the Commonwealth, which is obviously a big factor, going into part two. For your respective characters, what does the Commonwealth represent? What was it like going from the walking dead, where you’re in the woods and you’re in the dirt and you’re in the mud, you’re in the mess and now you are in this technicolour world that is such a contrast to what you’ve been used to. So I just wanted to get both of your perspectives.
Eleanor Matsuura: The transition into the Commonwealth is so sharp and so massive. We see her (Yumiko) sort of left in the woods, on this journey where they need Princess with Eugene and now all of a sudden she’s been fast-tracked to a really high position and she’s got like all this status and you know, we’ve literally seen her walk on with this outfit, with the whitest shoes.
I think I’ve ever worn or anyone’s ever worn on the show. I remember the first day I walked onto set and Josh and Paola just screaming, “what are those shoes? Why are they so white? Why are they covered in blood?” I’ve spent so long in the woods, covered mud and now all of a sudden Yumiko has been pushed into this role that she’s not entirely happy with, but nevertheless there she is to help her group and to survive.
She’s stepping into the part and playing her part as a lawyer. I think going into the Commonwealth is a kind of double-edged sword or a better way of describing it would be like, two sides of a coin. She is back in a world where order and justice and all these things that she believed is there. She works at a bakery, there’s a hospital. There are great things to be had, but she’s also seen too much. She’s a pursuer of the truth. A loyal friend to her chosen family to the end.
I don’t think that she will ever be completely comfortable in pretending that the past never existed. So you will see the struggles that will just begin to cover along with the struggles of how people reconcile that.
Paola Lazaro: Princess is trying to assimilate in a way and you can see it; her hair and everything styled differently. Her clothes are different. I think she’s really trying to fit into a society, which she hasn’t fit into probably ever, even when she was a kid because of her wild nature. I think she’s really trying and also really sketched out by it really like there’s something that’s not right. Well, she’s trying to make the best of it. And we’ll see what happens with that.
Q. This question is for Khary and the other for the rest of you. What would Rick Grimes have thought of the Common Wealth? As you haven’t really met Maggie yet. So what do you think your characters will think of Maggie when you come across?
Khary Payton: I think he might smile for about 10 seconds, and then not trust it at all. I think he’s learned to be pretty wary of anybody. I mean, famously, the walking dead has taught us to fear the living more than you fear the dead.
I don’t care how clean these people’s clothes are. There has to be something.
Lauren Ridloff: Yeah. It doesn’t matter how white Eleanor’s shoes are.
Eleanor Matsuura: There is some of us on the show, like when me and Lauren first joined. we joined the episode that Rick left. So we might be like, who’s Rick. Why does everyone keep going on about this guy? Um, I’m kidding. Obviously we know who he is. It’s funny because. Even on our time on the show, there’s so many actors that we still haven’t worked with. And Lauren Cohen is one of them. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is another.
I’ve never worked. I’ve never worked with Ross and I find it. I find it wild actually, because I know them off offset. I hope, I hope that there is a way of getting everyone together somehow.
Khary Payton: That just blew my mind. I don’t know why. It just seems so obvious to me that we’ve obvious all been on. Yeah. That’s crazy.
Paola Lazaro: that’s so crazy to me. Absolutely. I would love like, it, it princess meets Rick, like it’s in the, like the same as the comic books where she’s like, “Dude. Wow. I’ve heard so much about men honor, man.” That would be awesome.
Q. With the adaptation of the comic book, there is so much speculation about how this long series is going to build up an end. The show already has the general aesthetic that has changed so drastically. How did the change feel both as a character on the screen, as well as a person who has worked on this off screen, knowing that this is where the series ends.
Eleanor Matsuura: I mean, there’s this show that has 11 seasons, which is just the most extraordinary thing for a show to have. Not just survive this long, but like thrive as long. And I think one of the reasons there’s lots of reasons, but one of them is because it’s not afraid to go and do some really weird things. It will go to places that you didn’t expect to go. And I think even though the Commonwealth is in there, I feel like we really embraced it and we really leaned into it. It’s allowing the story of the show to open up in a way that is completely unexpected and invites in all these new dynamics and all these new storylines and new stories that we get to tell the kind of characters that we would never have seen before on the show. And the fact that, that we still get to do that.
In terms of it coming to an end, I don’t know. The truth is, we’re still in it. I feel like we haven’t landed the plane yet. We’re still in the flight. So it’s really hard to talk about what it feels like to land it when we’re still flying.
Khary Payton: That’s a great analogy because this flight is also barreling towards the ground.
Lauren Ridloff: I remember the very first time that I heard about the walking dead. My husband told me about the show that it has zombies and walkers and it is supposed to be good. Let’s watch it together. And I remember watching the very first episode. And everything about that. Everything about the show just felt so gritty. I think that aesthetic has evolved. The characters have evolved, and I think the people you love, we loved and people that we hated are still around. Now I’m on the show, which has been so crazy to me. It is also that I as a person have evolved. And I know that for the walking dead, what’s so important to them is to be a reflection of people who are actually watching this. With the diversity, all the representation that we see on the screen is so powerful. And I think that that is one of the amazing things that has happened. One of the factors that hasn’t really changed, throughout the show and just as Eleanor just mentioned, we haven’t really landed the plane.
We haven’t even gotten to the end of the show. And so, you know, it’s so hard to say, where we are going to be when it ends. But I do feel that the Commonwealth really has brought forward a fresh feelings. Over all of these years, it’s definitely a new feeling. And then again, it parallels with everything that’s happening, you know, with our recent.
Whether it’s political or with everything that’s happening with the pandemic. All these conversations about topics like cancel culture. There’s a lot of things that we’re seeing that actually now and that we will see on the screen and that’s where the walking dead really excels.
Q. Can we expect to see some closure maybe between Magna and Yumiko or will there new rules in the Commonwealth continue to keep them at odds?
Eleanor Matsuura: Well, one of those things I know will happen, the other one is, um, is I hope to be true.
They’ve been split apart for the right reasons. I think it’s very realistic; relationships and relationships in the apocalypse are hard. That’s one thing we’ve learned about this show. I think they broke up for the right reasons and they’re on completely different paths. Magna has never forgotten though. Her chosen family outside of the Commonwealth, that group that she first started with is her heart and soul. It’s challenged more because she has the pull of her brother keeping her in the Commonwealth and that keeps her invested and wanting to do well there.
I think we will see Yumiko really struggle with where her loyalty with what she’s doing in the name of survival. Magna’s a huge part of that.
I don’t know if there’s happy endings in the walking dead, but I really hope that they get to resolve and go full circle because, I want that for them and want that for their journey.
Lauren Ridloff: What I do know is that Magna looks hot in her new work uniform
Q. The question is for all of you. Over 11 years of this show, what is your favorite moment? And also specifically a favorite moment for your character.
Khary Payton: I’ll just say that my favorite moment was my first day coming on the set and seeing everyone. I was a fan of the show. There was a moment where we were all kind of on set together they had everybody set up like a poster picture and I slowly turned to look at all of them and it was like, my, my television had come alive. Rick Grimes was standing there in the foreground and Carl was there and Rosita and everybody. I t was probably the weirdest, most surreal feeling.
And, uh, I don’t just like lose my lines very often, but I absolutely lost my line. And I won’t forget that somehow I found my stuff dropped in the middle of this fantastic world and I will not soon forget it.
Lauren Ridloff: I think that my favorite moment would have been just recently when I shot the final scene when Connie, is reunited with Kelly again abd Magna. I think it’s such a significant moment, even other than the obvious we’re all together again, but for me, It was the first time that I actually saw that group again, after such a long break, such a long hiatus. I had to go away for filming and then the pandemic hit. I hadn’t seen anybody for such a long time before we actually started shooting that episode. I’ve reached out to Greg and asked if I could not see Kelly, um, until that final day that we shot that scene when we finally are reunited and Greg made that happen. That scene is probably one of my favorites because it’s one of the most real scenes.
Eleanor Matsuura: There are moments that I keep thinking about now. I have so many, so I’m guessing I’m spoiled for choice but they genuinely involve you guys (Lauren, Khary and Paola). I think one of my happiest memories was, the first day. The energy was just incredible. We were all doing something different than our characters don’t normally do. Meeting princess was like a shot of adrenaline. It was really exciting. We were filming in the city. We don’t normally get to film in the city and everything about it felt different and new in a really exciting way. That’s been one of my fondest days of work. The other one recently was actually with Lauren.
We have a scene which is completely in ASL, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do, especially with Lauren’s annoyance. I always like to practice it with her. I’ve always just felt like that was the dopest way. It is such a brilliant superpower where if you don’t want anyone to hear you, particularly walkers or people who are alive and you should be afraid of
We have this thing where we can communicate and have this really intimate and important conversation. No one can hear it. I just think it’s incredible. Me and Lauren got to do that together because I wanted to do that the whole season. I’m so glad that I got to do that with her.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
Stay tuned for our review of the part two of The Walking Dead Season 11. The Walking Dead Season 11 premiered on February 20, 2022, also available on AMC+ to stream.