There’s no getting over the late Madison Clark: the stars of Fear The Walking Dead are still mourning Kim Dickens’ surprising exit from the series midway through Season Four.
“It was devastating, to be honest. It was unexpected, but it was also — we knew what the writers wanted when it came to storytelling and how it propels the other characters forward, and how it propels even the new characters forward, that now it’s going to be under the whole lens of all the things that Madison tried to set up for us to do,” Victor Strand actor Colman Domingo told told IMDb at San Diego Comic-Con over the weekend. “Kim, Kim is just a wonderful, wonderful comrade. She’s got a great spirit. She’s so graceful and really sort of like handed it over and handed over the baton to the rest of us as well.”
Dickens’ ferocious Madison Clark, de facto leader of the Clark clan and mother to Nick (Frank Dillane) and Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey), died sacrificing herself when luring a horde of walkers away from her in-peril kids and extended family.
Series newcomer Maggie Grace, whose video camera-toting Althea shared scenes with Madison only in the mid-season finale, said she was “heartbroken not to get the honor of working with [Kim].”
“I did with one episode and I was just like, ‘Don’t go!’” Grace said. “She is so amazing.”
“She was such a calling card for the show, you know?” Debnam-Carey said. “It’s funny, I mourned the process through, really, while we were working. You’re working with them and concurrently trying to deal with the fact that you’re not just losing the character, but you’re also losing kind of your family. We spend more time with this group of people than we do with our families for six months of the year. While filming, a lot of those emotional scenes are just, like, me losing it [laughs].”
Danay García, who plays Nick’s former girlfriend Luciana, knew going into the season they would be sending off Dickens midway through it, but they were still left unprepared for her actual departure.
“The weird thing is that we knew she was going to depart in episode eight, and for eight episodes, we knew it was coming up to that episode, and when it happened, we still were not ready,” García said. “It really grabs your soul. You’re like, ‘Oh, I thought I was ready for this, but I’m really not.’”
“Even now at Comic-Con, she’s missing here,” Debnam-Carey added.
Showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg defended their controversial decision — made in conjunction with Walking Dead CCO Scott Gimple, who boarded the spinoff as executive producer in Season Four — to kill off Madison after she served three-and-a-half seasons as series lead.
“Strand, Alicia and Luciana have been on this very dark mission for the first eight episodes. We didn't reveal why until [the mid-season finale], and it's because of who they lost and their reactions to the loss of that hope. It isn't until the midseason finale where they start to rediscover how far they've strayed from what Madison wanted for them, and why she made that sacrifice,” Golderg told THR.
Madison won’t be seen again for the remaining half of the season, but her presence will continue to be felt as it drives the still-surviving characters forward.
“It's about them rediscovering that hope, and how to carry it forward in a world that finds a lot of ways to test people who are hopeful and optimistic,” Goldberg added. “For them, it's about taking this incredible legacy that Madison left behind. Hope as a theme is something that's very much going to be a part of the DNA of the show going forward.”
Fear The Walking Dead returns with its mid-season premiere Sunday, August 12th on AMC.