While Fear the Walking Dead will be bringing most of its core cast members back, the show will feel like something brand new in Season Four. New cast members are joining in abundance and the core bunch is set to return, but a new set might steal the show.
ComicBook.com spent a day on the set of Fear the Walking Dead in Austin, Texas, checking in with several of the cast members both old and new but also taking in the sights of its impressive new locations. Chief among those locations is the Dell Diamond, though it likely won't be called that in the AMC series.
What was once a baseball stadium is now only recognizable by its seats and general structure. A swing set is parked where home plate should be, farms for cattle and plants take up the shallow parts of the outfield, greenhouses sprawl across the infield between second and third base... It's the sanctuary Madison Clark has created for her family in the aftermath of a terrifying near-death experience. Not only do they have the resources to live here, but the luxurious skyboxes have been converted into bedrooms. Alicia Clark's, in particular, is loaded with books to help her pass the time.
It doesn't stop there, the AMC show took over the entire stadium. Sets have been created to represent an infirmary and an armory while the batting cages still work, possibly as some sort of recreation for survivors. j"It's a place that Madison actually found in some way," Victor Strand actor Colman Domingo said. "Especially, the transition that we've made and after everything that happened at the end of last season, we're still licking our wounds."
While such a strong sanctuary might sound like a happily ever after, the character will have their fair share of issues to tackle. Madison Clark actress Kim Dickens admits there is a bitter sweet nature to the new location. "We built this community which is our dream and what you do is, you sort of juxtapose that against also being alone, which is still reparable," Dickens said. "We bring in more villains, and more characters."
"We do a little time jump but we're still licking our wounds and finding resources, finding a new way to be, but we're still carrying a lot of baggage," Domingo added. "If you see us in the top of Season Four, it may appear that things are different, but we're still holding on to some things."
The same effort and qualitative result on display in the baseball stadium is being poured into the rest of Fear the Walking Dead's production, as well. The new cast members are pouring an impressive bit of heart into the series which will be all-new and revamped moving forward. Some characters, like Morgan Jones, won't have the luxury of spending much time at the impressive baseball stadium, if at all.
"I think one of the main things that's different here on Fear than on The Walking Dead is this one is much more nomadic," Lennie James said, standing in his Morgan Jones costume Walking Dead fans will recognize merely feet away from a gas station set where a heated encounter was being filmed. "At the moment, there's not really a set. There's not Alexandria. There's no Kingdom. On The Walking Dead, particularly at the stage that they're at now, it's all about the groups and the groups coming together and the preparation for war. This one is much more sparse."
James is hardly the only newcomer to Fear. Garret Dillahunt, an actor who may have been closer to playing Negan on The Walking Dead than he likes to admit, brings the fun and flashy cowboy gunslinger John Dorie to the AMC show. Dillahunt was on set to describe his new role. "He's a capable fellow and he protects people he likes, hard," Dillahunt says of his character. "He's kind of a loner, they all are, but he likes people. He's happy to find some. He protects his group. He's a sheep dog." His backstory is being kept a secret for now, even from Dillahunt, but it will unfold as time goes out.
Some fans fear the series will be unrecognizable to its preceding seasons which had began to thoroughly find a stride with Season Three. While its partially true as the new characters will certainly command their fair amount of screen time, especially in the Season Four premiere, the new cast will not prevent the original bunch from growing.
"We're used to bringing in the new characters and stuff," Dickens said. "They always pick such wonderful people for us...[Garret Dillahunt] is an example of what they're doing this season which is infusing it with love and some hope and some humor. His character is sort of a unique type of character to see in this genre."
The crossover event which has been commanding the attention in promotional materials will not be getting in the way of Fear's core bunch, either.
"We were told that this was not where the show would go, that there would never be a crossover," Alicia Clark actress Alycia Debnam-Carey said. "So, to finally have one, I know for both groups it was definitely, 'How is this gonna happen?' It's still a transition. Our show is so unique in a sense that we move so many times, as well. We've shot in Canada, in LA, we've shot in Mexico, now in Austin, and usually you go through changes each season with a show. This is a really big one for us so it took a little getting used to, knowing how the storylines are gonna overlap and knowing how exactly do we get to see these characters meet. Once we worked that out over the first few weeks, we really started to settle down and ended up in a nice place, for sure."
"Talking to Lennie about it, he was very excited about the fact that his character, in the comic book, is dead by now," Domingo added. "He gets to live on in Fear, which he's very excited about."0comments
Not having a laid out batch of source material, in fact, provides Fear with its ability to offer shocking storylines which fans can't predict years ahead of time. "We don't have to play by any of the comic book rules," Debnam-Carey points out. "I think it's really nice. Even, The Walking Dead, they've started to veer off in many big ways. For us, it's always been really nice because we've been able to choose what elements to bring out of the show, too. It doesn't always have to follow big action plot points...For us, we can choose to make it more about inside moments and more about the dynamic of the family. For us, that's what we really like."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead will debut its fourth season after The Walking Dead concludes its eighth, at 10 pm ET on April 15. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.