In a series where supporting characters, original characters not from the source material and anyone close to a fan-favorite are always walking a razor's edge of life and death, The Walking Dead's Sonequa Martin-Green has managed to stay alive, deepening her character and that character's relationship to the audience.
Along the way, she's found that Sasha, sister to Tyreese and a character created for the TV series, has carved out an identity for herself independent of Tyreese, while still bouncing primarily off co-star Chad L. Coleman.
Martin-Green joined ComicBook.com to discuss this weekend's midseason finale, the "game-changing" future of the series and the unique, sometimes crazy relationship the series has with its fans.
The Walking Dead is an interesting adaptation in that so many of the fan-favorite characters either don't exist in the comics, or are wildly different. Is it cool coming in as an original character and being kind of a wild card?
I do feel like a wild card, which I really embrace. My character is totally not in the comic. A lot of people feel like I'm a spin on Tyreese's daughter in the comic, but that's not the case. Totally brand-new, and I really appreciate it because I get to know her script to script to script and I do feel like there are no bounds in a sense with Sasha.
The great thing about the show is that it has its own identity from the comics and as you said, a lot of the favorites are radically different. Daryl's not in the comic at all. But I love that because even if you are into the comic, you can still look forward to surprises -- to things being different, to new storylines, and whatnot. And I really like it because they could do anything in a sense.
Dawn to me is a different kind of villain for this show; she's more officious and callous than evil. What of the villains would be the one you'd least like to come across in the world?
While Gareth was disgusting -- he ate people, so I have to at least give him an honorable mention -- I do think The Governor, probably. The Governor was a psychopath. Even when we thought that he was becoming a normal person again and could be trusted, he just flipped the script again. The fact that he was so charming and deceptive and was able to gain a following, I would not want to come across him.
Do you think that sense is deepened by the fact that we've now gotten to know Tara a bit? She's an intelligent, capable person and she was taken in by him.
Exactly! She's not this mindless puppet. Most of the people I do believe in Woodbury were normal, but it really is a testament to his skill and manipulation, and I think that if you pair that with the unpredictability that he had, it was a very toxic combination in one man.
In the comics, there was a lot of talk after the slaughter of the Hunters about the need to reclaim the group's humanity. But with Tyreese and Sasha in the mix, that's not a new theme. It's been there, with Tyreese pounding away at it, for a while now.
Yeah, I do think it is an interesting perspective that both of them have, and that they have collectively. I think Tyreese has always been adamant about embracing humanity as a whole, and even so far as to see these walkers as people. He's really stressed that, he's stayed on that. I think that it's interesting because he's always been there, but there is this reclaiming happening. After what happened in ["The Grove"], it was like, "I was always right here, but now I'm going to go further." I think that's very interesting and it's creating a distance between he and Sasha because the loss that she's suffered on the other hand has caused her to go further in the opposite direction.
I think it's also interesting because you could even argue that what Sasha's feeling is reclaiming her humanity, but she just sees it in a different way. In her mind, humanity is about survival. It's about not paying attention to those things that are frivolous to her. It's connection and friendship and emotion and things, she thinks that these things weaken you. That's always been her point-of-view. So in a sense, she's reclaiming what she thinks is her humanity as well after losing Bob and saying that I'm going to go back to what I think matters and I'm going to go back to a place of safety for myself because I allowed myself to slip and I now I'm hurting as a result of it.
Do you think that the mid-season finale will put an even finer point on that? In a very small, literal way you let somebody in and were hurt last week. Will that turn up the head on the kind of low simmer of the disagreements you've got going with Tyreese?
It's definitely there, and it's going to be there, even though they were able to come together and have this beautiful moment together in Episode 7, that is still there and it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. Now that it's out in the open and they're both aware of it, it's not just going to go away. It's going to be interesting to see how they navigate it.
When you have an episode like last night, do you have to spend the next week hiding from social media because people think they're going to kill you?
[Laughs] Oh, no.
Our comment threads were like, "Well, it's not Daryl and it's not Rick. More than ten minutes of camera time means trouble."
[Laughs] Oh, man, that's so funny.
This expectation of death, of my character's demise, is something I've been dealing with since I've started the show, so I'm very used to it at this point. Especially during the beginning of Season Four, when the sickness was rampant in the prison, everybody thought I was going to die. They were like, "Oh, man, you're going to die of the sickness. That's so sad." And they'd be so sure that I was done, and they'd say, "I know that you're dying, but you were a great character and I'm going to miss you." And of course, I can't respond to them or anything. I just read them and I laugh. So I'm definitely used to it; there's no need to hide out. People always think that that's happening at some point or another.
The Walking Dead is an interesting show because there are sites that follow everyone on social media and keep track of who's filming when, and they're sure that they know who's going to die.
I know! They think that they know that they know that they know, for whatever reason. It's funny because they do take the littlest things and they expand it and blow it out of proportion and say "Because of this, you must be going!" Around the time of just after the sickness and everything, I tweeted, "Hanging out on a lazy Sunday afternoon," and everybody said, "Aww, is that because you don't have to work tomorrow?" They took that little bit -- that I was chilling out on a Sunday -- to mean that I wasn't working on Monday because Sasha was dead.
Recently, Chad Coleman took a role on a Syfy series and we posed the question, "What does this mean for Tyreese?" And our comments thread was full of people arguing about whether he was dead, and contracts and filming schedules...and that's for a miniseries they could shoot during the off-season!
Exactly! [Laughs] They'll take anything. If you're traveling over the weekend, they'll take that and they'll say that because you're out of town, they must be gone.
I don't think The Walking Dead necessarily gets enough credit for its female leads. Everybody has their own identity distinct of the men in their lives. Was that a factor when you were taking this job?
You know, I was a fan of the show before I got on the show, but the strength of the female characters and the well-roundedness of the characters is something that I've grown to appreciate and respect more and more as I continue to be on the show. I can't say that it's something I pointed out and said that's why I was excited to be on the show. I was entranced in general and once I got on it and really developed an intimate relationship with the show -- reading scripts and being in the environment, being involved with telling the story, all of that -- that started to really come to the surface for me: Look how strong these women are, and look how varied these women are, and look how flawed these women are. It's not that these women are so strong that they're robotic. They've got their vulnerabilities, they've got their flaws, they've got their issues and I really appreciate that. At this point, I can say that it is one of the things I love about the show and one of the reasons that I think it's such a brilliant story.
When we were at a convention recently, somebody said that in a word, the first half of the season was "unrelenting." How would you describe the rest of the season?
Hmm...let's see. I really like "unrelenting." I would say game-changing.