The youngest sur­vivor of Fear The Walk­ing Dead talks fame and fan­tasy

SFX - - Close Encounters - Words by Joseph Mc­Cabe /// Pho­tog­ra­phy by Maarten de Boer

Few stars as young as Alycia Debnam-Carey can lay claim to be­ing part of two TV phe­nom­ena. But at just 23 years of age, she’s en­joyed high-pro­file roles in both post-apoc­a­lyp­tic young-adult SF thriller The 100 and the first spin-off from hor­ror mega-hit The Walk­ing Dead – Fear The Walk­ing Dead, now en­ter­ing its third year. Yet the Syd­ney na­tive sounds as though she’s han­dling her fame like a vet­eran pro when she speaks to SFX from her home in LA, as­sur­ing us that our tim­ing is per­fect since she has an episode off to chill. With her char­ac­ter (con­ve­niently named Ali­cia) hav­ing shed her goody two-shoes im­age af­ter killing a nasty hu­man, Debnam-Carey tells us what to ex­pect as she re­turns to the land of the un­dead… Your char­ac­ter grew tremen­dously in Fear The Walk­ing Dead’s sec­ond sea­son. How do you see this con­tin­u­ing?

I’m so glad you said that. I re­ally do think she had such an ex­tra­or­di­nary growth. It’s been quite a slow burn, I think. But what was re­ally ex­cit­ing was at the end of last sea­son hav­ing her kill a hu­man be­ing for the first time to save Travis. That re­ally did ac­cel­er­ate her growth and evo­lu­tion. That is a great start to go into sea­son three. Be­cause of that we get to see things ramp up for her even fur­ther. What ap­peals to you about Ali­cia?

She’s such a great char­ac­ter in that she’s smart and she’s will­ing to adapt and she’s ready to con­front this apoca­lypse quite self-suf­fi­ciently. She’s re­ally em­braced that. She can speak Span­ish and she’s kind of handy with a knife, and she’s will­ing to save her fam­ily. It’s an ex­cit­ing point to have left her at the end of sea­son two. Madi­son’s al­ways been very pro­tec­tive of her, which is why there’s been a dif­fi­cult mother-daugh­ter dy­namic. It’s an in­ter­est­ing place to start off. In sea­son three, she re­ally gets to do some great stuff. I’m re­ally ex­cited for this sea­son. It’s our best yet, for sure. Does po­ten­tially re­unit­ing with her lost brother Nick change her re­la­tion­ship with her mother?

It does change it in the sense that now she can for­give her mother a lit­tle bit for her ac­tions to­wards Nick and the re­la­tion­ship she had with Nick over Ali­cia. Now she un­der­stands and ac­cepts that she needs fam­ily in these cir­cum­stances. It gives them a macabre bond in that they share a per­spec­tive that her and Nick don’t have. It does bring them closer, where they leave be­hind that moth­er­daugh­ter un­easi­ness. But I’d love to see Ali­cia and Madi­son team up and be­come some sort of apoc­a­lyp­tic duo [laughs]. A zom­bie-killing Thelma and Louise?

That would be so awe­some. A great dy­namic. It could be like The Gil­more Girls in the apoca­lypse… Or the com­plete op­po­site – they could just be at odds with each other and fall apart com­pletely. I would love to see ei­ther one of those things hap­pen [laughs]. Af­ter The 100, this is the sec­ond time you’ve faced the apoca­lypse. Were you pre­vi­ously a sci-fi fan?

I re­ally loved fan­tasy. I loved read­ing The Lord Of The Rings and Harry Pot­ter and a lot of fan­tasy se­ries. The 100 was much more sci-fi. But the hor­ror-ac­tion thing was some­thing I was new to. Hor­ror wasn’t as much my genre. Be­tween The 100 and Fear The Walk­ing Dead, you’ve earned a rather large fan fol­low­ing.

It’s un­be­liev­able, and some­thing that I’m so grate­ful for. I didn’t re­alise the strength or the grav­ity of hav­ing sup­port like that and what it means. I strug­gled to deal with it for a lit­tle bit, be­cause it was so new and so for­eign. It’s hard to even de­fine. That sup­port is so pas­sion­ate. The wealth of love and gen­eros­ity peo­ple give, it’s so beau­ti­ful. It in­spires me to keep giv­ing and keep de­liv­er­ing what peo­ple re­ally want, and mak­ing sure I’m do­ing a great job. To get lost in this whole other world, ev­ery­one can re­late to that… I kind of had to take a lit­tle bit of a break and re­flect on what it meant. I needed to make sure I was still do­ing it for all the right rea­sons. Be­cause you can get caught up in that quite quickly. But hav­ing that has been in­cred­i­ble. You’re now a Comic-Con vet­eran. Are you look­ing for­ward to go­ing back in July?

Yeah [laughs]! Comic-Con is one of my favourite events of the year. My most mem­o­rable mo­ment was see­ing Hall H for the first time, when no one had even seen any­thing of our show. Our first panel was sched­uled be­tween Game Of Thrones and The Walk­ing Dead, and I re­mem­ber just go­ing out on stage and see­ing 7000 peo­ple, think­ing, “Oh my God. What are we do­ing here?!” It was the most nerve-wrack­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. But then peo­ple were so gen­er­ous and lov­ing, and ex­cited to be there. That’s what makes Comic-Con so spe­cial – the peo­ple who go there re­ally, re­ally want to be there. So you only ever see this fun, lovely en­ergy.

Fear The Walk­ing Dead airs on AMC, ex­clu­sive to BT.

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