The stars of Fear The Walking Dead have paid tribute to series lead Kim Dickens, whose Madison Clark was killed off in Sunday's mid-season finale.
The cast processed Dickens' exit "badly," Alicia actress Alycia Debnam-Carey said on live after show Talking Dead.
"We found out before production had started. For all of us it was very devastating obviously, you know, we're such a tight knit family, we've just become so important in each others' lives," Debnam-Carey said.
"For me, it was definitely difficult. And it was heart wrenching and really hard for us — we processed this over months, really, all of us, and it's, you know, something we've just had to come to terms with, but at the same time, obviously it does move the story in a really different direction."
The season 4 mid-season finale, 'No One's Gone,' ended with the revelation Madison sacrificed herself at the stadium as it fell, staying behind and wielding a flare to draw a horde of walkers inside and away from a fleeing Alicia, Nick, Strand, and Luciana.
"I think there's a bit of symbolism actually, in the show, where she's holding that torch," said Colman Domingo, who plays Strand.
"And I think Kim Dickens herself is someone who sometimes you need to burn something down to light someone else's way. And I think Kim Dickens has become such a dear friend and comrade, she's a pro through and through, and she's also one of the funniest people that I know. This is something a lot of people don't know, she's hilarious."
He continued: "And she will always say something and lay us out, because we never see it coming. And constantly, we're like 'I don't see it coming,' and then she keeps hitting us with it. And she's got so much humanity and heart and she's been such a ferocious, kind, gentle leader, that's exactly what you need with a show like this."
Domingo then praised a blushing Dickens as the longtime leader of the group both onscreen and off.
"We work in long days. We've been from Vancouver to Los Angeles to Mexico to Texas and it takes a great leadership to bring us all together, and that's the thing that I know I will miss, and I think in many ways we've had to carry the torch a bit," Domingo said.
"It hasn't been easy trying to, you know, find that new leader on set, that's true," Debnam-Carey added.
"People say that, you know, their shows, 'we're family,' this is true. This is, what you're seeing here - the loss that we've suffered as we knew this story, what this storytelling had to do, we were losing that," Domingo said. "And so even while we're gaining some new cast members along, we were wrestling with it, and it was a real struggle, because we're so close."
"We definitely were drawing on some real, close emotions, which is a little bit dangerous as an actor," Dickens said of her exit, which she admitted left her "heartbroken" and "devastated" when she learned she was going to be killed off.
"But we were for the season, it was very real for us. We sort of had to work through it in those five months that I was there."
"I'm gonna miss Kim, period," said Luciana actress Danay Garcia, who joined the series halfway through season 2. "I love the fact that when I showed up in the show she was this leader. And she's brilliant, she's a brilliant woman. I learned so much from who she is, what she does, and how she does it, it's really amazing."
"I didn't get to work with Kim, I didn't get to do any scenes with her, and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to," said The Walking Dead transplant Lennie James, whose Morgan boarded the overhauled series at the start of season 4. "And I'm sure other people have said it, but I would like to add my voice to just how classy that lady is. And she's real good people. That's rare in this job we do, and she's got it in spades."2comments
"We all look to Kim if we have any issues or if we need any leadership, Kim definitely takes that role and does it beautifully and is such an amazing actor," said Frank Dillane, who played Madison's son, Nick, from seasons 1—4. "I mean, incredible actor, one of the greatest actors, I think, certainly one of the best I've worked with and I think ever will work with. Kim, you've taught me so much, I love you very much, and good luck."
Fear The Walking Dead returns with new episodes Sundays this August on AMC.