Former Walking Dead star Sarah Wayne Callies has revealed why she dropped out of directing an episode of spinoff Fear the Walking Dead. In March 2019, Callies told the International Screenwriters' Association she would be returning to TWD Universe — this time behind the camera — on Fear, making her the third Walking Dead star to direct an episode of the franchise behind Colman Domingo, who stars on Fear as Victor Strand, and Michael Cudlitz, the former Abraham Ford actor who has directed multiple Walking Dead episodes. But Season 5 of the spinoff concluded in September, and a Callies-directed episode never came — the result of a conflict with her leading role in upcoming NBC drama Council of Dads.
Speaking to press during the Television Critics Association press tour, Callies said she nearly quit acting and wanted to focus on her directorial career when she was passed the script for Council of Dads. Not long after, she headed to Georgia to begin work on the family-focused drama.
"I was neck-deep in a year where I had a bunch of directing gigs lined up in episodic television, and then I read the [Council of Dads] script, and the next thing I knew I was on a plane, cancelling jobs and shooting in Savannah," Callies said.
During a TCA panel for Council of Dads, Callies explained she nearly turned down her new show when preparing to shoot Fear.
"I was actually on set shadowing a show getting ready to direct an episode further down in the season when I got a call," Callies said (via CheatSheet). "The person who called me said, 'This is the best thing that I've read in a long time. I've never cried reading something like this.' So I left set and I read it."
Callies has so far directed an episode of Colony and an episode of Unspeakable, both projects where Callies appeared in starring roles. The actress-slash-director hopes to still head behind the camera on a future episode of Fear.
"I don't know yet," she said. "It was an episode of Fear the Walking Dead that I was going to be directing and we're going to try and slot that in if I can."
Asked if she might direct on Council of Dads, Callies answered she's "actively" seeking director opportunities outside her new show.
"At this moment my acting responsibilities on this show are large enough that I want to focus on those," Callies said. "In my hiatus, if I'm lucky enough for it to be a hiatus, I'm actively looking for projects to direct."
In her 2019 interview with ISA, Callies was excited to revisit the Dead franchise as a filmmaker.
"So far the only thing I don't like about [directing] is having to direct myself, and so the great joy of the Fear job is I'm not acting in it," she said. "And so I get to just focus on connecting with the actors and tracking the story and working with the department heads. It's so awesome, I love it."