Interview with Carrie Genzel of “The Walking Dead” on AMC by Suzanne 8/10/21
It was very nice to speak with Carrie! We had a great chat. I was so pleased to see her on the first two episodes of “The Walking Dead.” Don’t forget to watch it Sunday on AMC or AMC+. She plays Clark, an interrogator with the Commonwealth.
We gabbed a lot about non-TV-related topics, so make sure you watch the audio below… the transcript skipped the first ten minutes of chatting.
Suzanne: So, tell us about your how your audition came about for The Walking Dead season eleven.
Carrie: Oh, my God. First off, I am so excited to be able to talk about this. I’ve been like holding this in since February, because, you know, you sign a very hefty NDA. Even to audition for The Walking Dead, I had to sign an NDA, as did the person who was reading with me off camera. So, they keep things pretty secretive, as as you know, with The Walking Dead.
It just came about like any other audition. The Walking Dead is a show that, first off, when you’re an actor, and you live in Atlanta, that’s like one of those ones you want to check off and be like, “That’s the show I want to do when I’m here.” And I’ve been a fan of the show since the first season. So, it’s a world that I know; it’s characters that I know. So, anytime I get an audition for something that I’m familiar with, and that I’m a fan of, it’s special. Having said that, you want to just do your best work and then let it go, because you don’t want to put too much expectation into it. And that’s exactly what happened.
I got the material. They kind of piece together stuff that was actually from the scripts, which sometimes is done and not done. Sometimes they make up fake sides or use material from other episodes or what have you, but this was actually real material from that first episode. And, you know, it was just an audition. I just really tried not to put a lot of pressure on myself, because I was like, “I want to do this so bad.” I had auditioned for the show previously and didn’t get it, and I had also auditioned for one of the spin-offs. So, you know, there’ve been times I’ve been disappointed before. So, I just went in with an open mind and did did my best work and then forgot about it.
And I actually really did forget about it, because I booked a recurring role on Sistas for Tyler Perry. And again, this is back in winter when they were still quarantining and so forth. So, with Tyler Perry’s productions, we actually had to live at Tyler Perry Studios and live in a bubble the whole time we were there. So, I was all, “Okay, I’m going to be away from [everything].” I’m like on location, in my hometown, you know, my home city, this is weird. And what’s really funny is I had some time. You know, you’re in lockdown, essentially, and I was like, wandering around the studio lot.
And I walked around, and I’m looking at this area, and I’m like, “Why does this looks so familiar to me?” I’m standing there. And I’m like, “Oh, my gosh, this is the Kingdom. This is where they shot the Kingdom. I recognize that theater with the round balcony, and I’m standing there, and it was very funny to me. I was like, “Oh, this is where they shot that; that’s really cool.”
And it was a day or so after that, that I got a call from my agent saying, “They want you for this role.” And she’s like, “But there’s a little bit of a problem.” And I’m like, “What? No, no problems.”
Now, because of COVID protocols, it’s not as simple as “are you available for these shoot dates?” anymore. Now you have to be available for testing for all kinds of different things, even before going to a wardrobe fitting.
And because I was in this bubble, I was at Tyler Perry Studios, and I could not leave. There was some crossover in terms of dates where they needed me, and so my agent knew how much I love The Walking Dead and what a great opportunity this was. And so, oh my gosh, between her and the casting director, Tyler Perry’s casting director, and the casting director for The Walking Dead in Atlanta, God bless them all, because they all like moved mountains for me to be able to be available when I needed to be available. And I have so much love for Mr. Perry, because he actually moved up my scenes earlier in the week so that I could leave earlier and be available to The Walking Dead so I could do my COVID testing. So, I’m so grateful to him for doing that. Teamwork.
Suzanne: Yeah, that’s great that they can do that.
Carrie: And I have to say, working on The Walking Dead during a global pandemic is very surreal. I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but driving up to the studio for the first time, and just seeing not prop signs, but real signs that are saying, you know, COVID, masks, protocols, test site. There’s a trailer, you know, all kinds of things that normally would just be leftover props from the show, but were actual real signs and was very weird.
Suzanne: Yeah I can imagine.
Carrie: It was very, very weird.
Suzanne: When the whole COVID thing started, it reminded us of The Stand, because we were in Las Vegas when they filmed the first Stand, and they were filming right downtown where we were staying, and they put all these side fake signs up. So, I know exactly what you’re talking about now.
Carrie: It feels really bizarre. And, you know, I did a movie for Crackle, called Dead Rising Watch Tower, which was about a zombie outbreak, so, I’ve been down that road. And I was like, “This is so weird.”
It’s no joke, we had to wear – and they may still be doing this, I don’t know – we had to wear tracers. So, if someone did come back with a positive test, they could go back and see who you were in contact with, which was also very weird. So, we’d always have, and they’d always ask when you get to set, “Do you have your tracer?” “Yes, I do.” And we had our masks and goggles, and we had our z shields, and there was a lot of equipment. They kept us really safe, but it is very, very odd, because you’d be working on this type of material during COVID, and I’m sure all of the actors have said that.
Suzanne: Yeah, I’m sure. So, how many episodes are you in?
Carrie: I’m in the first two.
Suzanne: There’s two. Okay, I didn’t know if you were going to come back later for another episode.
Carrie: I don’t know. I hope so. I feel like there’re so many other fun things that she could be doing. She’s still around; she’s in the community. So, I’m hoping she pops up again, because I’d love to be able to go back. It really was such a great experience for me.
Like I said, having been a fan of the show, it was really cool to be able to step into those sets and interact with characters that I’ve watched for years. They have such an incredible cast on The Walking Dead. I mean, every one of them, at some point, has made me cry. Every single one of them, at some point, has made me angry.
You know, the thing that really grabbed me about The Walking Dead when I first started watching it was the characters, and I was drawn into the characters and what they were going through, and the whole apocalypse and zombie stuff was just kind of a another part of the show, but it for me it was really about that. And, as an actor, it was watching these incredible performances that would just gut you sometimes. [laughs] That seems like an appropriate way to describe that. But it’s really just heartbreaking. There’re so many moments I think for for anyone that’s a fan of this show that you remember, and just like, wow, and there’ve so been so many surprises along the way, too. Like, really, nobody’s safe on The Walking Dead. So, it was just such an incredible treat to sit down in front of the actors that I worked with, and, in my case, really kind of put them through the works.
Suzanne: Yeah, it’s it’s very well written. I could see why it has so many fans, because it is, as you say, great characters, and they just write it so well, and there’s always something happening, and at the end, there’s always a shocking thing. It just makes you want to watch the next episode.
Carrie: And there’s a lot of humor, too, which I always enjoy, because you got to have that humor to kind of release the pressure. That’s what I loved about what I got to do in the two episodes is that what we shot was really intense, but there’re some humorous moments there too.
Also, what I thought was really cool, as a fan, is I got to learn a lot about those characters. Like there are things that I didn’t know and that fans don’t know. So, it was interesting for me that way, where I’m like, “Oh, I didn’t know that.”
Suzanne: Yeah, they do a lot of revealing in those episodes of the characters that are there with you and what their backstories are. I like that.
Carrie: Absolutely. Yeah, you find out a lot about them, which I thought was really fun.
But it felt intimidating in the space. It’s a very, as you’ve seen, a very dark set. It was an old empty warehouse, so it was very damp and cold. It was freezing. We shot that in February, and there was actually like a cold snap that gripped through this area, so much so that the first day that I was shooting, they actually delayed our start time, because they were concerned about ice on the road. So, they waited until later in the day when it heated up a little there. And no matter what heat they would put in there, you would feel it, because it would all go to the ceiling. All of us actors that shot on that set will talk about how cold it was. I mean, they do what they can. I have silks on under my costume. I had the little hot shot warmers, and I had them I had them on my back. I was sitting on them. At one point I was giving them out to the other actors. I was like, “I have six of these. Does anyone want one?”
Suzanne: And you were wearing quite a bit of costume too. It’s not like you were wearing something skimpy, so it must have been cold.
Carrie: I was just wearing like a blouse and a suit, and there wasn’t really a lot of warmth to it. And for the other characters, when they’re captured, they were stripped of kind of a lot of things. So, they’re kind of in their sort of bare bones kind of costumes as well without all this stuff. So everybody, our teeth were chattering quite a bit. And, I don’t know if you see this in the scene; I haven’t seen it yet, but we could certainly see each other’s breath as we were talking in the room, which I thought, “Well, you know, that works too,” because it looks intimidating.
Suzanne: Sure. A bit of authenticity there.
Carrie: But really, I can see everyone’s breath. That’s how cold it was. Every night when I would leave, I would crank up the heat in the car and put on the seat warmers, because I felt like a Popsicle. It was just so cold.
Suzanne: Yeah, I think it can get pretty cold in Atlanta and that part of the country. We had the big surprise snowstorm in February.
Carrie: Oh, wow.
Suzanne: You know, the big one that they talked about in Texas where their power all went out? So, we got that. We didn’t lose power, thankfully.
Carrie: Yeah, thankfully, no.
Suzanne: More snow than I’ve seen since I lived in Illinois.
Carrie: Wow. There’s been some weird weather, some very strange weather.
Suzanne: So, when you had to keep it a secret, did you have to keep it a secret from your friends and family as well, everybody?
Carrie: Yeah, you know, some people kind of figured it out being in Atlanta. I’m like, “I can’t really talk about it.” They’re like, “Well, it’s The Walking Dead or Marvel.”
Suzanne: Well, there’re a lot of things going in Atlanta.
Carrie: They know that’s kind of what people are not allowed to talk about. It was very funny. Everyone’s very educated.
Suzanne: That’s funny.
Carrie: So, now, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t wait until the cat’s out of the bag, and I can really, really talk about this.”3
Suzanne: So, what was it like when you had to stay at the Tyler Perry compound?
Carrie: Oh, my gosh, that was like being in a movie too. I mean, it really was quite the experience. When we checked in, we all had to be there for the duration. They didn’t want anybody coming in and out, and so you were there for the whole duration of their shoot. Now, he shoots incredibly fast. He shoots over 100 pages a day. So, to go from that to The Walking Dead, where we shot far less – that main interrogation scene in The Walking Dead we shot over two days, maybe longer. So, that tells you the difference of pace, but it was really nuts.
You know, we checked in to Tyler Perry Studios, and before we could even get on the lot, they took our temperature. Everyone was in a full on suit. We got in there, and they did a COVID test. They wiped out all of our bags. They were not messing around. We then had to go and sit in the army bunker barracks, where you’re in a room by yourself. It was sealed to say that it was clean. You had to take the tape off that it was clean. And anything that we needed, there was an app, and you would ask for a meal or coffee, tea, whatever. You were not allowed to leave that room until you got your test results back. And then when they brought you your meals, they were in the suit. Even though they weren’t coming in, they still were in a suit. They would put your tray down and knock on the door and then walk away like nobody would interact with you.
So, I checked into the studio about 11:30am, and then, I guess, it was about 10pm or so that I got the text message to say your test came back negative; you’re free to leave the room. And I zip down to there, because I’m like, “I need some fresh air,” and I just went for a walk.
And then we moved into our housing. So, because it was an army base, there’s a lot of housing on on the studio lot. So, I actually got to live in a really cool heritage home with another actress from LA, and we had this big four bedroom house to ourselves, and that was our home away from home while we were there for a couple of weeks.
But everything was self-contained. I mean, they really took care of everything. We had catering and food trucks, and the gym was open to us with bicycles. We could zip around on the lot on in golf carts, and there was a lot of things for us to do and to feel safe. And even though we were all tested several times a week, and we all got tested coming in, we still were wearing masks and just being safe. You know, nobody got sick on any of his productions, so he really kept everybody safe. I appreciated it. And it was kind of weird to leave the bubble.
When I was wrapped, I had to zip into the supermarket on the way home, and I felt like very, “So, I don’t know where you guys have been.”
Then, with The Walking Dead, even though we could be at home, they did ask that we definitely wear our masks when we were out and be safe and to not go out and do a lot of stuff we didn’t need it to do while we’re shooting. So, I mean, it’s really such a privilege to be able to work during this time. So, you do whatever you need to do to keep people safe.
Suzanne: Well, it sounds like they did a good job of keeping you safe.
Carrie: Yeah, both productions did a really great job.
Suzanne: Did you know anybody in the cast and crew of The Walking Dead personally? Or had you worked with them before?
Carrie: No, I didn’t at all, just from watching, but, no, I didn’t know anyone at all. So, it was very much that first day of school feeling of like, “I hope everyone likes me,” even though I’m not that like role on camera. But, I mean, like they are truly a family, and so everyone was so welcoming. They’ve all had their first day on set, so they know what that feels like. Everyone was very welcoming, and it was a lot of fun. It was a lot of fun just to kind of see everything come to life, and to to be a part of those are those first two episodes in the last season was very cool.
Suzanne: Now, your character was badass. She got taken down a peg or two.
Carrie: [laughs] That’s why I think she needs to come back. I don’t know.
Suzanne: Show the nicer side or something.
Carrie: A different side of her. She’s just doing her job. I mean, look who her boss is. She’s gotta be a badass. When your boss is Mercer? Come on.
Suzanne: It’s funny to see in the midst of something like an apocalypse and zombies and all that, to see somebody who’s basically a bureaucrat, like you said, just doing her job, trying to bring order to the chaos.
Carrie: Well, it’s funny, because when I went through hair and makeup, they were saying they were so excited, because they said, “You’re one of the first characters where you’re allowed to wear nail polish.” Like it was a big deal. [laughs] They were like, “You can actually have a manicure.” That’s a big deal on this show. My hair’s done. It’s not done, it’s perfect. I’m wearing a suit. Clark was described to me as the Scully of the Commonwealth, and I was like, “I’ll take that.”
But yeah, that was the thing that was very odd to me, because when you think of The Walking Dead, you think of a certain kind of wardrobe, kind of like grungy, maybe took it off some dead person. You know, it’s all kind of thrown together, although they still manag to make it look cool. And here I am in this perfect little suit, where I look like exactly a bureaucrat, what she’s supposed to look like, and it was very weird. So, I feel like I’m not really getting The Walking Dead experience.
Suzanne: Yeah, they should bring you back as a walker or something.
Carrie: Or something, or I don’t know.
At that point too, outside of the comic book, there was nothing really known about the Commonwealth and what it was and the people that inhabit that community. So, we were all kind of learning as we went along. But, yeah, it was very cool.
Having said that, I didn’t see one walker while I was there. [laughs] Very disappointing. I’m like, “Not even at craft service?”
Suzanne: Of the two sections of the first two episodes is the two groups. You were in the group that didn’t really have any.
Carrie: Yeah, we were in the cleaner group.
Suzanne: I like those guys who were with you; they would look like Stormtroopers, those costumes they were wearing.
Carrie: Yeah, absolutely.
Suzanne: Like Star Wars stormtroopers.
Carrie: They do a little bit. And if you look at the comic book, that’s exactly what they look like in the comic book. They really did a great job of bringing that to life.
But yeah, initially, my character was supposed to be in one of those costumes in the, like, trooper outfit. I was a little disappointed. [laughs] I went in for my fitting, and they brought out this rack of suits, and I was like, “I play Clark.” She’s like, “No, they decided to put you in a suit.” And I was like, “Really?” because I really kind of wanted to be in the outfit. And they were like, “You really don’t though, because they’re not that comfortable.” Apparently, they’re hard to sit down in.
Suzanne: Oh, okay, yeah.
Carrie: “So, you’re probably gonna be a lot happier in the suit.” But it’s just, of course, I wanted to be, you know, growing up, and like you said, growing up and being such a huge Star Wars fan as a kid, I was like, “This is my moment. I get to put on the armor.” Maybe there’s hope for something down the road.
Suzanne: Well, you know, I recognized you right away, because I used to watch All My Children when you were on it. I remember– it’s funny, you know, it was a while ago, and I remember you being on it. I remember Jonathan Kinder, because I really liked the actor, and that they must have said that name about a million times on the show, too. And I remember that you and Susan Lucci and Robin Mattson, and I think there was another woman. I can’t remember; she actually played Marian, Maybe?
Carrie: Yes. Jennifer Bassey.
Suzanne: Right, and then, you had a lot of funny scenes and dealing with him.
Carrie: Yeah, we did. Those were probably – and people still comment about that whole storyline…We laughed so much during that, because it was so fun to do. I mean, parts of it were so ridiculous, like I think Marian ended up rolling them up in a carpet or something.
Carrie: And Michael Sabatino was such a lovely man in real life, that it was kind of fun to go after him as a group. It was just such a fun storyline, and, for me, as an actor coming on to that show, getting to work with these veterans of daytime was just such a treat, because that was the first contract role that I had in my career, and it was just so incredible to be able to do that right out of the gate and work with these incredible women and Michael, who I’ve seen on TV for many, many years on different shows. I learned a lot from them. And it really, really was fun to be a part of that storyline.
Suzanne: Yeah, I bet. Like you said, I still remember it. I’ve watched a lot of TV and soaps, so if I remember some of the details this long ago, then it definitely had an impact.
Carrie: Yeah, it’s one of the storylines that gets brought up the most when All My Children fans reach out to me; they talk about that a lot. And it was really fun. It’s too bad we weren’t able to do something again, just that group of characters, because people really loved it. We had a good time doing it.
Suzanne: Well, that’s good. Yeah. That’s important, I’m sure. And with all the acting that you’ve done, the fact that you can look back on it so fondly is good, because I’m sure that not every single shoot you’ve done has been that much fun.
Carrie: It’s so much more fun than others, but I always look back at All My Children with a lot of fondness. Just, like I said, I learned so much from those actors on that show. And working with David Canary was just incredible. I learned so much. It really was like boot camp; there was no safety net. There were no cue cards, no teleprompters. I mean, we were banging out pages and pages and pages a day. And, you know, I said this going back to working for Tyler Perry, he moves even faster than they did back then on All My Children, but because I had that experience in daytime, it didn’t freak me out to see a huge stack of pages. “Oh, we’re going to do this today.” “What?!”
Although I have to say that the very first day I walked on set of Sistas, nobody told me there was no rehearsal, no camera blocking, nothing that lets you see what happened. And I was like, “What, really? You guys just recorded that?” That was what nobody told me. So, what you see in some of those scenes is the very first time somebody’s walked on set and has no clue what’s going on.
Suzanne: I’ve heard they do that now on the soaps a lot, because they’re so pressed for time, and then COVID has made it even more so.
Carrie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m sure. You know, the thing is, with daytime too, because you’re playing a character for such a long period of time, you know, for me anyway, it got easier and easier and easier, because you start to learn how your character speaks, how that character reacts to things, and it becomes easier to kind of get into that groove. And you sort of get in that work pace where you’re always moving really quickly, but when you’re out of that rhythm, and you step into another show, and they’re moving like crazy, you’re like, “Woah.” But I say this all the time, my time on All My Children is really, really a part of the foundation of me as a professional actor and how I’m able to sort of go with the flow in terms of changes, in terms of speed, in terms of improv, all of that stuff. It really, really helps me to build up that those skills that I use all the time.
Suzanne: I’ve heard it’s an excellent training ground.
Carrie: It’s incredible. Yes, it’s sad to me that there’s so few now, and there’s less opportunity for people to really get in there and learn it, because it really, for so long, was such a great place for new and young actors to kind of get their feet wet. You know? You think of all the actors that have come from daytime TV, and there’s a lot; there’re so many.
Here is the video version of it.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Born in Vancouver, Carrie Genzel has enjoyed a diverse career, working extensively in both her native Canada and the United States, she is most notably known for her role as Skye Chandler on ABC’s ‘All My Children,’ as well as two memorable roles on the CW’s ‘Supernatural,’ and most recently recurring on AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead.’
Carrie has built an esteemed career in film including roles in ‘Watchmen, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, Dead Rising: Watchtower, They’re Watching, and more. Carrie has received widespread acclaim for her performances in both television and film and in 2012, she won the Best Actress award at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival for her role of Emma in ‘The Ballerina and the Rocking Horse.’
Off set Carrie is an advocate of good mental health having launched the blog State Of Slay(TM) and becoming an advisory board member for the non-profit Attitudes In Reverse® which brings programming to students on anti-bullying and suicide prevention.
About The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is an American post-apocalyptic horror television series based on the comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, and Charlie Adlard—together forming the core of The Walking Dead franchise. The series features a large ensemble cast as survivors of a zombie apocalypse trying to stay alive under near-constant threat of attacks from zombies known as “walkers” (among other nicknames). However, with the collapse of modern civilization, these survivors must confront other human survivors who have formed groups and communities with their own sets of laws and morals, sometimes leading to open, hostile conflict between them.
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Proofread and Edited by Brenda