The hit AMC drama series The Walking Dead is back for Season 3, with higher stakes, more threatening human villains and, of course, plenty of zombies. The writers and producers have never been afraid to take the story where it needs to go, regardless of who ends up becoming a casualty and what the ripple effect is on those who survive, with this last episode being the perfect example of that.
During this recent interview, actor IronE Singleton talked about how he had originally only signed on for two or three episodes, playing a character that didn’t appear in the comic books, how his own life story inspired T-Dog’s backstory, how he thinks having a baby in the group will affect the survivors in future episodes, and his favorite memories being a part of the show. Check out what he had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are spoilers.
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 a surreal experience. It was like, “Wow, it’s over!” It’s bittersweet.
Do you wish your character had been flushed out more, before they killed him off? Was that something you had hopes for?
SINGLETON: Well, 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, and everybody coming together doing their part. It’s not my call to really say that I wanted more or less, or anything like that. I’m just so pleased to have been part of something so special and so historical.
Being on a show like this, where you’re not guaranteed a longevity of life on it, did you have an idea that you were going to go out like this when you signed on? What was your reaction when you finally read the death scene and learned how he would go out as a bad-ass hero?
SINGLETON: I had no idea that 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. How miraculous is that? So, I’m very thankful for that. And when I get the death call, as I call it, the entire executive team were very gracious and appreciative of what I’ve done. I was just very thankful to receive a phone call and to be respected, in that sense. 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 as a hero. It made me feel really appreciated.
SINGLETON: Exactly. I think it was very liberating because, as an actor, you start with a clean slate. There’s nothing more liberating about starting with something that is not written. You pretty much create the history of that character and that character’s life story. Whatever you do, whatever you come up with, whatever you decide on, you can go with it and, if the director or the execs they like it, then you’ll stick with it. That’s a good thing, as opposed to having something that’s already written. Then, you’re sticking to that, to a certain extent.
What’s it like being ripped apart by zombies? Did you have to sit there and get appliances and blood pumps hooked up to you?
SINGLETON: Well, I guess that’s like anything else. That’s nature of the business. With film, you stop and go. You have to do 20 takes, or whatever. I’m used to it because I’ve been doing this for awhile. 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.
SINGLETON: All of the above. Now, they have a baby in the apocalypse. Most of the decisions are going to have to gravitate around how it affects the baby. At the same time, there’s hope that it is this rebirth of innocence that died with Sophia. That will probably test them, as far as humanity is concerned. Maybe it will try to help them get back to that, in recognizing the innocence in that little baby. A child has a way of making you change for the better. I think about my relationship with my children. My daughter was born when I was nowhere near where I am now, and she took me to another level. I said, “I have to become a better person in this life, if I want to serve as an example. If I want to set a positive example for her, I need to get better myself.” I think that’s what a baby brings to the show. As horrific as it is, it’s also very gratifying for humanity.
SINGLETON: I didn’t have any conversations with Robert Kirkman or Frank [Darabont] or Glen [Mazzara]. But, what I did with my character was bring him as far up as I can, in the present day. That way, I don’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. He majored in speech communications, the same as I did. I also majored in theater, but I did not attach that to T-Dog because it probably would’ve made him a little more dramatic, and we’re already dramatic enough on TV. Then, he graduated from college, but didn’t make it to the pros. He came close, but ended up getting a regular blue collar/white collar type of job. That’s how I devised T-Dog.
What were some of your favorite memories and moments, from the past seasons?
SINGLETON: The entire process 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 kisses. It’s so hard for me to pinpoint one day because every day was so glorious. Every single day, all through the season, was pure bliss to me. I can’t pinpoint a single day that was more interesting or better than the other because it was just a true pleasure and a pure joy for me to go to work, every day.
Is there anything that you didn’t get a chance to do on the show, that you would’ve liked to do?
SINGLETON: Nothing, other than to direct something like this. I would’ve liked to have had a scene with each individual cast member, one-on-one. I had a one-on-one with Jeffrey DeMunn, who played Dale, and that was really special to me. I would have liked to have done that with everybody.
The Walking Dead airs on Sunday nights on AMC.