Fear the Walking Dead Showrunner Talks Main Characters, ‘Companion’ Status

Production is in full swing on AMC’s highly-anticipated companion series, “Fear the Walking Dead,” in Vancouver and series showrunner David Erickson has opened up in a new interview about why they chose that very careful wording for it.

“We are loosely covering the period of time that [The Walking Dead’s] Rick (Andrew Lincoln) was in his coma in season one,” Erickson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re able to watch and experience the things that he missed. It’s more of a parallel story than a prequel; imagine the opening where Rick gets shot and goes in his coma — that day was probably very close to our day one. We’re playing out the idea of what was going on in the country and the world until he woke up, stepped outside and it’s welcome to the apocalypse. That’s why a “companion piece” has been the phrase used at the network. It’s not a prequel in the sense of Better Call Saul, where we’re jumping back six, seven years. It does tie very specifically into the pilot of the original. ‘Prequel’ is not the right word; it’s kind of its own strange, hybrid thing. I wish I had a better word.”

Erickson also spoke about the lead characters in the series and how the zombie apocalypse is good for them in a way.

“It’s about a family: Travis (Curtis) just moved in with his girlfriend Madison (Dickens) after they got married. She has two children, one of whom has some issues. Travis has a very pissed-off teenager and an ex-wife. You’re talking about two people who, as the story opens, all they want is to bring their family together under one roof and make everyone whole. The irony for us is that the only thing that helps accomplish that is that the world ends. What’s intriguing to me is to take these problems, which I think would make for a compelling drama, and put them in this much larger canvas and see how they play out. All of the issues that we establish, these are the things that in my head will come to fruition in seasons three, four, five and six. It forges an interesting introduction into this world. It’s much more about the “shark” you don’t see in season one. We obviously play some of the tropes — and there are definitely walkers — but it’s people trying to wrap their brain around what the hell is going on and not fully understanding the zombie apocalypse by act one. It’s going through that process of the colleague or the friend you had coffee with the day before is now trying to kill you. And your first thought’s going to be, ‘They’re sick, they’re on something.’ It takes a bit of time for everyone to wrap their brains around what this truly means.”

Finally, the first season of the series will have just six episodes, but Erickson is not adverse to a larger slate for the already ordered second season.

“I would imagine the network has a very specific plan. I think 13 is a great number; 15, 16, it’s really a question of having the time to sit down and make sure we’re not burning story to burn story; that we’re able to build something that’s layered and textured and compelling. I think it’s a safe bet that if things go well, they’ll probably want more rather than less, but I’m not sure what that number’s going to be.”

“Fear the Walking Dead” is executive produced by Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, Greg Nicotero, David Alpert and showrunner David Erickson and produced by AMC Studios. Co-Executive Producer Adam Davidson, who directed the pilot, is also directing the second and third episodes. The series’ first season, consisting of six one-hour episodes, will premiere on AMC in late summer.

“Fear the Walking Dead,” which is set in Los Angeles and focuses on new characters and storylines, stars Kim Dickens (Gone Girl, “Sons of Anarchy”) as Madison, Cliff Curtis (“Missing,” “Gang Related”) as Travis, Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) as Nick and Alycia Debnam-Carey (Into the Storm) as Alicia. Also joining the cast as series regulars are Elizabeth Rodriguez (“Orange is the New Black”) as Liza and Mercedes Mason (Quarantine 2: Terminal) as Ofelia.

You can check out the previously-released teaser and behind-the-scenes video below.