Countdown to Fear the Walking Dead: Kim Dickens & Alycia Debnam-Carey

Our countdown to Fear the Walking Dead continues with another interview from Comic-Con. This one features Kim Dickens and Alycia Debnam-Carey, who play Madison and Alicia Clark, a mother and daughter in a family that already has its challenges before the dead start walking.

What can you tell us about your characters?

Kim Dickens: I play Madison Clark, the matriarch of the family … a patchwork family. I’ve got teenagers, been a single mom for a while. I just moved in with my lover (laughs), Travis Manawa.

Alycia Debnam-Carey: Much to the dismay of the kids.

Dickens: Much to the dismay of my teenagers. It’s a very contemporary modern fractured family. And it has its own dysfunctions and hijinx that go with blending two families. Alycia plays my golden child.

Debnam-Carey: So I’m playing Alicia, which is the same character name, spelled differently though. She’s the golden child as Kim said. Frustratingly with ease, she’s succeeded in school, and she’s got a real future all planned out. She’s got a beautiful boyfriend, she’s going to Berkeley. She’s ready to get out of Los Angeles. It’s is a little bit of fractured home, dad’s passed away and brother’s gone off suffering addiction and I think she’s just ready to leave that drama. She’s got high hopes and that’s what makes the destruction of all of this so sad for her because she loses a lot.

Dickens: She’s had it with her family. She’s ready to be gone and all of a sudden she can’t leave.

Mercedes Mason teased that each character has a secret. How much do you know about these secrets or how your character arcs are going to progress?

Debnam-Carey: I think for all of us it’s quite a slow burn. This whole first season really focuses on the destruction of civilization so there’s a lot that goes into that. There’s a lot of discovery, there’s a lot of realization. I think for Alicia in particular, she’s got the farthest to fall, because she’s got so much potential, she’s got so much to look forward to, so much she’s striving for, so much ambition. So she falls pretty hard when that happens. There’s a real darkness when that comes about.

Dickens: With my character, Madison, she’s an example of reinventing yourself after trauma, crisis and losing a husband. And even before that, she had a really a hard time early in her life. It’s those things that sometimes people will try to put behind them, move away from, get better and heal from. I think some of our characters and my character, those are the things you have to then reach back for to use.

[It’s] really compelling and interesting to play because so many times, people try to get rid of the things that they think don’t work about them, the things that they think are their flaws. And that oftentimes is the thing that actually works about you, your secret magic or a secret power.

What would you say it is about Madison and Alicia that makes them strong female characters?

Dickens: My character is a strong woman. She’s certainly rallied through a lot of tough times. She’s also very pragmatic, which makes her pretty quick to rise to the occasion and make tough decisions, difficult decisions, and that makes her adaptable in this climate. It doesn’t mean she’s not vulnerable at times. She’s a very human, well-rounded female character.

Debnam-Carey: Alicia’s a seventeen-year-old, so she’s got her own insecurities and she’s going through a lot. But she’s also had to grow up quite quickly in that family environment, and she’s a no bullshit kind of girl. She knows what she wants. She’s going to get it and she’s quite a realist in many ways. She’s very smart. The wonderful thing about our show is they’re all great female characters. I think all the actresses on board have done a beautiful job of creating fleshed [out], well-rounded human beings.

How much of a challenge does dealing with an addict pose to this family while the world is falling apart around them?

Dickens: It’s been very interesting for us to play. We’ve rooted this in the reality of these characters, and the reality is Madison has a 19-year-old son who is an addict, and has been in rehab several times, and is now refusing to go to rehab. Addicts can die if they’re not properly cared for when they’re trying to kick [the habit]. Frank Dillane is such a wonderful actor and he plays an addict that you just want to freaking murder because he’s so selfish, he’s so difficult, he’s so charming. And my character loves him. It’s her baby and she feels responsible for any of his inadequacies and his stumblings. There’s a very real codependence that is played out there that these characters struggle with and are trying to negotiate. We never get too far from the rooted relationship of this character. We’re always coming back to them connecting that way.

Photo by RHS Photo. Courtesy of AMC Global.

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