Interview with Julia Ormond (Elizabeth), Alexa Mansour (Hope) and Annet Mahendru (Huck) of “The Walking Dead: World Beyond” on AMC by Suzanne 9/23/21
I love this show, so it was great to chat with some of the stars this week on press panels. These women were so nice and had thoughtful answers to all of the questions. I can’t wait to see the rest of season 2. I’m just sorry that it’s ending after that. Note that the questions that don’t have my name are from other journalists, not me. Don’t miss the season premiere 10/3 on AMC!
Question: My first question’s for Julia, and then the second one’s for the two of you, but I’m wondering if you could talk about her morality, because last season, she seemed to be upset about some of the stuff she was doing, but this season, she seems a lot more apathetic. I’m just curious, is there a line she won’t cross, and is it still bothering her? What’s your take on it?
Julia: My take is that Elizabeth is somebody who compartmentalizes what emotion she will show to what person. So, if something is bothering her profoundly, she would have trouble showing that to somebody she’s intimate with, just because of her personality type. So, yes, but I think really what happens with Elizabeth is…what happens to her belief in what they’re doing in season two.
In season one, for me, she’s utterly, utterly committed to an agenda that’s necessary. They’ve identified that Hope actually has something that could be really critical to the survival of mankind – if she comes in with the right attitude…[and] doesn’t bring in the anger; she goes along with the plan of what they’re meant to be doing and that she’s productive and effective in her time there.
And I do think that it’s not black and white, or I hope it’s not black and white. It’s more kind of gray. It’s like she has to sign up for something that she’s not happy about, but I think people do that in war all of the time. In the military, you accept that there are people who are going to die, and you accept the tragedy. I think we as a populace accept the tragedy of collateral damage. So, I don’t think it’s as much of a pivot as I wish it was in the world.
Question: Then, for Annet and Alexa, obviously, Huck has been changed by the two girls, even though she says she hasn’t. Can Hope trust her? And for that matter, can she trust your character, because obviously, you’re more about your [getting back to your] sister right now.
Alexa: I think Hope can learn to trust her; whether or not she does is different story, but I think there’s a lot that Hope doesn’t know, and she has to take that into account. And just like Hope did a bunch of crazy things, or Hope would do a bunch of crazy things for her sister and the people that she loves and to protect them, I think Huck was kind of put in a tough situation as well. But Hope is pretty scarred after what happened in season one, so it’s gonna take a lot if Huck wants to rebuild that relationship with her.
Annet: Yeah, Huck’s in a really bad spot. At this point, Hope’s just looking at her like, “You’re crazy; I don’t ever really want to talk to you again.” So, I don’t know how she’s gonna get out of this. It’s just looking pretty bad and things are so entangled. She’s relieved to be back, but it’s looking really [like] she’s sort of in the worst position she’s been thus far. In a way, she’s in prison the way Hope is too, because of this web of lies. And all these people out there who know things about the CRM that they shouldn’t have known and that’s Huck’s family now, too, she obviously feels alignment with, and maybe more so than she does with Elizabeth at this point. As we know, there’s more family at the CRM now that Huck has some entanglements with that are problematic. So, it’s just the question – it’s funny when Hope and Huck are sitting in this sort of dog kennel…where they have their conversation like, “Hey, this is a great place for all of us.” It’s so ironic, because they’re just both in prison, really, and it seems like there’s no way out of this all, and is this a better place? Are they safe, or, actually, have things just gotten worse?
Question: Alexa, I love Hope’s friendship on screen with Elton – or I guess their former friendship, as it were. Will we get to see them mend [it]…and is there hope for them to mend this relationship?
Alexa: I don’t know if I can tell you what happens with Hope and Elton, but what I can say is that I think there’s always that room or the possibility of mending something. I think if both people are on the same page and they each get to get their side of the story out, I think that there’s a very strong possibility that they could be friends again. They’ve all been through so much that they realize that sometimes you have to do things, or things happen that are out of your control, and I think when you care about someone, you understand that. I would appreciate the honesty, so I hope so. I hope they do get to mend their relationship.
Question: Julia, what kind of backstory were you given about Elizabeth’s connection with CRM, and will we be seeing that play out, maybe explore her backstory a bit this season?
Julia: That’s super hard to answer…without doing spoilers. I think some of the backstory, I think when you have supporting roles, and basically Elizabeth is this sort of character. It’s not always helpful for the backstory to come into the story story, but, yeah, that was kind of [vague]. [laughs]
I think the biggest thing is that she’s a real believer, she signed up for this philosophy, and she thoroughly believes in the choices that they’re making and what they need to do in order to save mankind. Then, there’s this greater detail in that, but I don’t want to answer it any more, because I don’t want somebody like Scott [Gimple] or Matt [Negrete] to go, “Why did you say that, because we’re going to use that.” They sent us a list, “You may not talk about this; you may not [talk about this].” I don’t know if they sent that to you. I was like, “What do I talk about? I don’t know what to talk about now.” So it’s a little scary. There you go, that was an all over the map useless answer.
Question: Julia, I respectfully have to disagree. I think she’s more than a supporting character, because she casts a very big shadow in the story. She manipulates; she tests people, and when somebody pushes her, she pushes back hard. What’s it like to play all those different aspects and then throw in the fact that she’s a mom, too?
Julia: Well you know, Jamie Ruby was asking the question earlier in terms of you see her get upset in season one, you see kind of the soldiers get taken off, and then she’s upset. I think, for me, that upset at that moment is this private moment of grief in terms of I’ve not just done this awful thing to this kid that I frankly liked and was a good soldier and all the rest of it, and the grief around how much people can tolerate, but what is my kid going to think of me when they find out and I have to tell them? I think that just packs a punch. And for me, what happens with Elizabeth is you see the dehumanization of it, she becomes increasingly disconnected. She’s just disconnected, and she’s shutting down. So, she’s dissociating, and it’s at certain moments that I really value that she has actually with her own family that pull her back. And maybe – maybe yes, maybe no – that will actually impact her reevaluation of what they’re actually doing.
Question: For Alexa, Hope is kind of in a new place. We won’t say more than that. She’s kind of getting acclimated to a lot of different things, and also, there seems to be an aura of distrust a little bit. Where is she mentally at this point?
Alexa: I thinks she just came from getting so hurt and feeling so betrayed after what Huck did, and she just left her sister; her and her sister just split up, and the only friends that she really feels like she ever had she doesn’t have them, and she doesn’t know what’s happening to them, or where they are. So, I feel like she’s in this spot where she’s like, “Do I let more people in?” Because everyone kind of leaves and no one, nothing ever lasts. Anything good that’s ever happened in my life hasn’t lasted, or it’s turned out to be completely fake. So, I think she’s a little bit on the fence and has this guard up in this new place that she’s in, because she doesn’t want to get hurt again. At least she’s got her father and whatnot, but anybody else that’s not really family, that’s not really a necessity in her life. I don’t think she really is trying to get attached to them after what’s happened.
Question: And Annet, really briefly, do you feel like she’s a woman without a country right now?
Annet: Yeah, the other one got exploded, and this one is under attack. Yeah, I mean, she’s always been a woman of her own country, I suppose, of her own reality. So, I don’t know if she particularly needs to be anywhere. She’s not truly attached to anything. She’s a true soldier in a way, going from point A to B, and then she has to keep going. She can’t really sit still anywhere, and you’ll see her coming back to her room, and it all seems distant and doesn’t really mean anything anymore, because she’s changed so much. So, it’s sort of these pauses in between that a soldier never really knows how to deal with anyway. They just like to be away and like to be in these explosive situations; that’s where they thrive. So, Huck’s ready. I think she’s ready for another mission.
Suzanne: Julia, you’ve been working since you were very young, since high school, at the very least, in acting, and then after that, and a lot of the cast are very young people. Did you have any advice for them? Or did they come to you for any advice?
Julia: They don’t need advice from me. They don’t need advice from me. I might be asking them advice. Annet, Alexa, did you come to me seeking any advice? [laughs] Did I ever give you any advice? I don’t remember. No, I dont think I did. I’m not much of a sharer in that respect.
Annet: Honestly, watching Julia and just being in the presence of her is your advice and your lesson and your inspiration, and you just respond to the person, the greatness that’s in front of you. So, that’s everything.
Alexa: Yeah, Julia is a force to be reckoned with. I know every time I go on set with her I’m like, “How are you doing this? I don’t understand.” So, if there was a person I was going to go to advice for, it would probably be Julia.
Suzanne: I recently learned that the [show’s] timeline is concurrent with the original Walking Dead, and there’s going to be a movie and some other spinoff series. Have any of you heard about whether any of your characters, or whether you as actors, will be involved in any of these other things, or whether your show will be involved with the ending of the other Walking Dead?
Julia: I think that’s really a kind of Scott and Matt question. It is one of those things that I like to call them spoiler blurts that you sort of trip up in terms of, “What do I say? What do I say? What do I not say?” So maybe somebody from AMC could help fill in on that question.
Suzanne: None of you have heard anything that you can comment on at all?
Annet: I mean, we’re done, right? But there’s always crossovers. I mean, Jadis joined us. We’re all gonna be around, so they can always pluck us up at any given moment. That’s, I think, what is so cool about all these, this threesome, so to say, of shows, because we can all play with each other at any point.
Julia: Also, they have this format where there’s flashbacks, and you go back, and you see stuff, so even if a character dies, you still don’t know whether or not they’re going to resurface in another [show].
Question: Elizabeth is such an insanely manipulative character and who really sends chills down my spine. So, as an actor, what is your process going into this character, and how do you prepare yourself before you act the hell out of her?
Julia: So, everybody sees her as manipulative, and I guess there’s a part of me that once you find that justification, I think it was I was talking to Jamie about in the beginning. My justification is that she is part of the military; there’re very few human beings left as far as they know. They work from the facts that they can [unintelligible], so they don’t know if there’s anybody else left in the world. They don’t know if they’re the only human beings left. So, they are working towards building hierarchy and structure and laws, and the ethics have just gone to hell, because their ethic has to be protect the border of whatever the human race is. We can’t let other people – we’ve got limited resources, we can’t necessarily share them with everyone. We need to make relationships with people outside of it. That’s her MO. That’s where she has to end up making tough decisions that, from my own perspective, people who are in the military, they’re making those decisions all the time. Somebody being killed somewhere on our behalf right now, and we kind of have gotten a little bit of – it feels globally as if there’s a little bit of weird acceptance around it, because it’s too painful to confront.
So, there’s a piece of Elizabeth that’s an amplification of that. It’s like I go into a state of denial, because it’s just too painful to accept the reality. Then, that state of denial, I mean, she’s disconnected; she disconnects from personal relationships as well. Then, I think once you have that, you can sign up as a believer. But you can believe in something and not be happy about the consequences of it. You can believe that, “Oh, I had something wrong with my leg and the doctor’s telling me that I have to have it cut off.” It’s kind of like, “Okay, I’m not particularly thrilled about it, but this seems like that’s the best plan going forward.” But I think, for me, it’s kind of getting into it.
Like I watched some of it last night, I was like, “Oh my god, she redefines resting bitch face.” [laughs] Oh my God, this just makes you so grim. But I think that’s kind of like what the sadness and the resignation is. There’s a harshness to the choices that she’s making, and so that kind of shows on the exterior.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
The Walking Dead: World Beyond’s ten-episode second season premieres October 3 at 10pm ET/9c on AMC with all episodes available one week early on AMC+, beginning September 26
Season Two trailer HERE
Season two of The Walking Dead: World Beyond concludes the epic story of Iris (Aliyah Royale), Hope (Alexa Mansour), Elton (Nicolas Cantu), and Silas (Hal Cumpston) — four friends who journeyed across the country on a mission that transformed everything they knew about themselves and the world. As they face off against the mysterious Civic Republic Military and fight for control of their own destiny, goals will shift, bonds will form and crumble, and innocence will be both lost and found.
The Walking Dead: World Beyond is executive produced by co-creator Scott M. Gimple, co-creator and showrunner Matt Negrete, Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert and Brian Bockrath, and is produced and distributed by AMC Studios. In addition to Royale, Mansour, Cantu and Cumpston, the series stars Nico Tortorella, Annet Mahendru, Julia Ormond, Joe Holt, Jelani Alladin, Natalie Gold and Ted Sutherland.
Episode 201: Konsekans – Premieres October 3 at 10pm ET/9c on AMC
Hope’s commitment to the future is put to the test, jeopardizing a potential reunion. Iris and Felix meet a new group. Startling revelations are made.
Episode 202: Foothold – Premieres October 10 at 10pm ET/9c on AMC
While some members of the group enact a plan to cover their tracks, others attempt to acclimate to their new surroundings.
Julia will next be seen in AMC’s The Walking Dead: World Beyond which will premiere this year. She can most recently be seen in BBC’s Gold Digger. Julia performed opposite Maya Rudolph and Catherine Keener on Amazon’s series Forever from creators Yang/Hubbard (Parks and Rec). She was recently nominated for Best Actress for the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television for Ladies in Black from acclaimed director Bruce Beresford. It will be distributed by Sony later this year. Other recent work includes Howard’s End written by Oscar winner Kenneth Lonergan for the BBC and STARZ which garnered rave reviews. Julia also appeared in HBO’s comedy Tour De Pharmacy opposite Andy Samberg, Will Forte and Orlando Bloom. She also starred in the independent film Rememory opposite Peter Dinklage and late Anton Yelchin which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. On the small screen, Ormond received an Emmy® Award in 2010 for her role in the HBO movie Temple Grandin and in 2012 was nominated for a second Emmy for her guest role on Mad Men. Julia wrapped a season of the SyFy series Incorporated which was produced by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Among her film work Julia Ormond starred in the epic Legends of the Fall alongside actors Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, and Aidan Quinn and played the lead role with Harrison Ford in the film Sabrina, directed by Sydney Pollack. In 2008, she starred with Brad Pitt in the fantasy- drama The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and also worked with Benicio del Toro in Steven Soderbergh’s biopic Che. JULIA’S PASSION AND NON-PROFIT WORK Julia was the first and former UNODC Goodwill Ambassador Against Trafficking and Slavery and is the Founder of Alliance to Stop Slavery and End Trafficking (www.assetcampaign.org) that was the origin, architect and convener of the Transparency in Supply Chains Law in CA that passed in 2010. She is Founding Chair of FilmAid International. She was Executive Producer of Calling the Ghosts: A Story of Rope, War and Women which won an Emmy, a Cable Ace, a Robert F Kennedy Journalism Award. and after a screening at the Council of Foreign Relations spurred legislation that enabled the arrest of Milosevich. Julia also participated in Call and Response. a documentary on the state of enslavement today and one of the first documentaries promoting cell phone technology to accept immediate donations to the cause. She is an Associate Producer to Libby Spear’s Playground, which focuses on the environment that enables child trafficking within the U.S. As an advocate, Julia has traveled the world assessing solutions and challenges and she has appeared as an expert witness before the US. Congress and the United Nations. For this advocacy work. she received the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award” and Women for Women International’s “Peace Award.
Alexa Mansour just wrapped filming a series lead in the highly anticipated 3rd installment of The Walking Dead universe for AMC. Set in The Walking Dead’s near-future, Mansour plays “Hope,” a hard-drinking and disillusioned teenager who yearns to experience the world outside the confines of her contained community. Mansour beat out thousands of actors for the role and stars opposite Nico Tortorella and Annet Mahendru. In film, Mansour recently starred in the buzzy, social media-driven genre feature Unfriended: Dark Web from director Stephen Susco. She also starred in the MarVista ensemble thriller #Squadgoals . Next up, Mansour will be seen in the independent feature film She’s in Portland opposite François Arnaud and Minka Kelly. On the small screen, Mansour was last seen in guest lead roles on CBS’s Madam Secretary and Bull. She also appeared in notable recurring arcs on CBS’ Seal Team (opposite David Boreanaz), FOX’s The Resident (directed by Phillip Noyce) and most notably, as the troubled “Faiza Assaf” in ABC’s critically acclaimed How to Get Away with Murder. Alexa made her television debut in 2014 as the lead guest lead in Law and Order: SVU’s season 16 premiere, which boasted the highest ratings for a premiere episode in seven years. When Alexa is not acting, she continues to create as a talented singer-songwriter and pianist. She released her freshman single entitled “Misguided Youth” in 2018.
Annet Mahendru has become a highly sought-after performer for both film and television. Perhaps best known for her critically acclaimed role on the Golden Globe & Emmy winning FX series The Americans, where she played Nina, the mysterious spy opposite FBI Agent Stan (Noah Emmerich). Her portrayal of Nina earned her a Critic’s Choice Nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and a Gold Derby TV Award Nomination for Drama Guest Actress. She was awarded Showbiz India’s Trailblazer award, recognizing her for an ‘Emerging Leader’ as a rising South Asian Female Actor in Hollywood. Recently, she appeared on the highly anticipated anthology series for Amazon Prime, The Romanoffs. Created, written, directed and executive produced by Matthew Weiner (Mad Men). The series features eight separate stories about people who believe themselves to be descendants of the Russian royal family. She also starred in the dystopian SYFY thriller The Slows, which marks Marvel scribe Nicole Perlman’s directorial debut. It is currently appearing at international film festivals. Annet has established a notable television resume with other credits including The X-Files, Tyrant, The Following, Lethal Weapon, Grey’s Anatomy, White Collar, 2 Broke Girls, and The Blacklist. In addition to her television work, Annet starred in the Sundance film Escape From Tomorrow, played the title role in Sally Pacholok, and appeared in Bridge And Tunnel, and Love Gloria. She was also the voice of Eva in the Penguins of Madagascar movie co-starring Benedict Cumberbatch. On stage, Annet performed in Seven, a play about Afghan refugee Farida Aziza at the LA Theatre Works. A collaboration between 7 playwrights and 7 female activists from around the globe that tells inspiring stories of overcoming adversity to effect real change and improve the lives of women. Born in Afghanistan to an East Indian father and Russian mother, Annet spent her early years learning 6 languages in the Middle East & Europe. She finished high school in New York, earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy at St. John’s University. Then embarked on a Master’s degree at NYU’s Global Affairs Program. In addition to her studies, Annet was always part of a stellar acting troupe whether with a renowned Russian actor in St. Petersburg, the HB Studio in New York, at the Groundlings or Diana Castle in Hollywood. She is also highly trained in Mixed Martial Arts and Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam. Annet currently resides in Los Angeles with her director husband Louie Gibson and their son. She is part of the local charity BreastfeedLA where she advocates for the importance of breastfeeding to help families meet their goals.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda