While the cast and crew of AMC's The Walking Dead enjoy the response they've been getting to the tenth season, life in the franchise's universe has become a lot like the NFL: neither have off-seasons anymore. With a strong ensemble cast (and a "Big Bad" fronted by Samantha Morton in an award-earning turn as Whisperers leader Alpha) and richly layered writing, showrunner/executive producer Angela Kang did the near-impossible: made the show feel fresh and dangerous again.
While work continues on that side of the Walking Dead universe rambles on, production is also underway on the upcoming The Walking Dead spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond – with a new teaser released that clearly ties this series directly to the TWD, Fear the Walking Dead, and the upcoming Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) films (see below).
Now, series star Julia Ormond is sitting down with AMC to discuss the series as well as her role as no-nonsense CRM big cheese Elizabeth – here are two of our biggest takeaways (you can read the entire interview here):
● Ormond makes it clear from the start: she's up on her Walking Dead – and much of that has to do with the writing:
"I had a very obsessive binge watch of everything – all… seasons of The Walking Dead and all five seasons of Fear the Walking Dead – and I just became completely stooped in all of it. What really drew me in was the great writing. They seemed to have really nailed the tone. It seemed to be really timely – maybe even more timely now than when the [original] show first started. There's a level of commitment in the playing that I really find heartwarming. It makes this show work. It makes it hopeful and warm. I was really excited to join the cast."
● Ormond's Elizabeth is a different type of leader than ones we've seen in the past – not surprising considering the scope of all that she oversees, though a generational shift doesn't quite see things her way:
In World Beyond, the character I'm playing is a leader of a formidable society. It's an extension of the other worlds we've seen, but she's another kind of community leader. I went into an actor panic because there have been so many great leadership roles. [Laughs] Andrew Lincoln, Lennie James… just such strong characters that have lent different sides of what my responsibility is. I think she's more in the pragmatic zone. For me, the pragmatism that some of the characters have is really about devoting yourself to the future of the human race – not even the planet. The planet is going to survive, but it's the human race that's at risk. What role do you take? What tactics do you sign up for? At some point, the buck has to stop somewhere.
What I love about World Beyond is that it starts with a younger group and people who were really young when this all started. For them, it's like "OK, boomers. You guys messed up. It's up to us to save the world." It's definitely got that vibe.
The news comes after Michael Cudlitz (who already got two scoops of praise from us for his work on this season's The Walking Dead episode "Silence the Whisperers") amped up our excitement even more by confirming he was directing an episode of the new series.
And he's issuing a "challenge" to the new series' team…
Usually, the news breaking at this point has to do with what's happening in front of the camera, but at the end of October, it was the business side that grabbed our attention.
During the company's recent earnings call, AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan revealed that the company will not license out the domestic streaming/on-demand rights for "The Walking Dead 3" – with Amazon Prime handling international streaming only in areas where AMC Networks doesn't have a service presence.
The reason is pretty obvious – and speaks volumes about the importance of networks and studios keeping their IPs to themselves as the "streaming wars" grow: AMC Networks is using their "golden franchise" to boost its own streaming services – like we've seen happen with shows like Friends and others over the past several months.
"Today we are in a position to optimize our content by using it in different ways without a one-size-fits-all approach strategically windowing each series. The monetization plan for the new upcoming third series of the Walking Dead universe is this: we did a deal earlier this month with Amazon to distribute that series internationally outside of territories where our AMC global channels will air it. However, in the U.S., we are holding back rights that we have traditionally sold to third parties. So domestically we will not sell the SVOD rights to this third Walking Dead series, but rather the series will be used to fuel our own platforms, both streaming, as well as linear as we window it and take full advantage of the opportunities that it presents to us."
To that end, Sapan announced that Charter Communications will offer AMC Networks' suite of video-on-demand serves as well as premium ad-free AMC Premiere to its Spectrum customers.
The third series in a franchise that includes global hit series The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead will feature two young female protagonists and focus on the first generation to come-of-age in the apocalypse as we know it. Some will become heroes. Some will become villains. In the end, all of them will be changed forever. Grown-up and cemented in their identities, both good and bad.
The Walking Dead spinoff series (co-created by TWD CCO Scott M. Gimple and showrunner Matt Negrete and set to be directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts) stars Alexa Mansour (Madame Secretary), Nicolas Cantu (The Good Place), Hal Cumpston (Bilched), Annet Mahendru (The Americans), Aliyah Royale (Major Crimes), Nico Tortorella (Younger), and Joe Holt (The Tick, Scandal). In this next chapter of the Walking Dead universe, which follows two female protagonists with a focus on the first generation to come-of-age in the zombie apocalypse.
Mansour's character is a good-natured rule breaker who lives for today. She is likable and funny on the outside but sad on the inside. Cantu's character is small for his age in addition to being friendly and an old soul. He also has a black belt in karate. Cumpston's character is big for his age. He is a shy loner that scares some kids, but he hates the fact that he scares people.
Mahendru has been cast in the role of Huck, while Royale will portray Iris – though not much else is known about their characters. Tortorella's Felix is an honorable man of his word who isn't afraid to fight for others' safety and acceptance. Holt's Leo Bennett is a solid family man and respected professor with a generous heart and unwavering optimism for the future. He'd risk his life to save the people he cares about.