When it comes to original characters, Fear the Walking Dead is operating on short supply. Only Colman Domingo and Alycia Debnam-Carey appear on the AMC series as their respective Victor Strand and Alicia Clark characters from Season 1 on a regular basis. In the upcoming fifth season, Ruben Blades will return to the zombie show as Daniel Salazar, temporarily bringing another Season 1 character back to the popular series.
"The most challenging thing for Salazar for me as an actor is to try to understand what happened to him in the whole fourth season," Blades revealed to CBR. "How do I assimilate that and present it in the context of this new season?"
This will mark the first time that Blades works with showrunners Ian Goldberg and Andrew Chambliss. The pair took over for Dave Erickson in the show's fourth season. Blades last appeared in the Season 3 finale with Daniel's fate being left ambiguous, though the creative team had later confirmed he survived what looked liek a treacherous fate. The adjustment in showrunners posed its challengers for Blades.
"Remember that we are all interpreting, but, in a way, we know our characters better than the writers I think," Blades said. "Because we've been with the characters and there's certain things that I'm sure Salazar wouldn't say, whereas to move the story one way it's needed for him to say something that maybe he wouldn't. So, you have to understand, my challenge is, why am I reacting this way to this because this is sort of a new situation, and then once I got information then to adapt myself to that."
As for his role in Season 5, Blades has to be discreet in the details he offers. "Salazar continues to be an ops guy," the actor said. "He's always like, Strand is always checking everything, Salazar is checking everything from the moment he goes in. He doesn't show up in any place where he doesn't know where the exit is. That's the first thing he sees. He's an ops guy, he's an intelligence officer, that's what his mindset is, but he has gone through a lot of changes." Still, the reunion between Salazar and Strand is something fans are very much looking forward to after their last encounter left the former with a bullet hole in his cheek courtesy of the other.
"He has to find a reason to live with his wife dead and his daughter dead and he's found one," said Blades. "Whether that reason is something he'll have found in the interim between Seasons 3 and 5, or whether he'll find it by joining Morgan's ranks, remains to be seen."