The TV Guide
Kiwi Cliff Curtis talks about his starring role in the series Fear The Walking Dead.
Kiwi actor Cliff Curtis (left) is relishing his good fortune with an on-going role in Fear The Walking Dead and a four-movie deal with James Cameron’s Avatar. Shaun Bamber chats to the down-to-earth shining star.
After more than a quarter century of acting in movies and TV, Cliff Curtis has finally got it made. First his TV series Fear The
Walking Dead – in which he plays Travis Manawa, a high school English teacher and father dealing the best he can with the zombie apocalypse – was renewed for a fourth season before the third season had even screened.
Then there was the announcement that he has been signed up by director James Cameron to play a role in all four Avatar sequels – the last of which isn’t due to be released until 2025, when Curtis will be approaching 60.
This fact had not been revealed to the public at large when TV Guide got Curtis on the phone to talk about all things Fear The Walking
Dead – but the 48-year-old actor did manage to drop a few hints during our conversation.
At the time it seemed he was just glad to be in a TV show that had made it through more than one season without being cancelled. (Unlike previous efforts Trauma,
Missing and Gang Related.) “Yeah, it’s awesome,” says Curtis, reflecting on his good fortune. “It’s great. It’s good to have that, but you know, I’ve also got other film projects that I do in the hiatus and stuff like that (first Avatar hint).
“I’ve got to have a few coals in the fire and fingers in pies,” he elaborates, “because especially on a show like this, you never know what’s going to happen.
“This is, I think, my fourth
television show and it’s nothing unusual to go to work on a Friday and think you’ve got six months’ worth of work only for them to go, ‘Oh, don’t come back to work on Monday, we’re cancelling the show’. You just never know in this business – it’s rugged.
“Everybody’s happy, everybody’s good, then it’s ‘Aw yeah, nah, we’re cancelling the show’. I’ve had that happen to me and I was like, ‘What? What happened?’ And nothing happened, that’s just how it is. It could be any number of things. You just don’t know.”
While the guarantee of a fourth season for Fear The Walking
Dead does give Curtis some sense of permanence, as he says, with a show like this you just never know.
And the idea that at any moment his character Travis might be killed off isn’t the only thing keeping Curtis off-balance – the secrecy surrounding Fear The Walking
Dead scripts is also an issue too. “They’re terrible. They don’t let us know anything. It’s really shocking actually. We often don’t find out until a few days or even the day before we start shooting the next episode.
“It wouldn’t be my way of running things, but that’s how they do it. I think it’s also because they’re still trying to figure out a bunch of things too.
“You know, we might get a draft and they’ll say, ‘OK cool, we’re going to shoot that – Oh no, hang on’. And then they’ll send out a new draft and it’s completely different from the last one.”
There are some benefits, though, to working on a show the size of Fear The Walking Dead.
“Yeah, definitely when it comes to the scale of the production,” says Curtis. “The opening in season three’s going to be awesome, you know? They’ve got like helicopters and fricking military guys and hardware. It’s pretty impressive, the amount of resources they’ll pour into an episode when they feel like it.
“But then they’ll tighten up on other episodes and it’ll be you in a room talking for an hour, you know?
“The budget doesn’t make it to catering for some reason either. I don’t know why. I don’t know why those resources don’t make it all the way to catering.”
As for what else we can expect from season three, Curtis reveals that things will “definitely” get more hardcore for Travis, whose son Chris was killed towards the end of season two.
“I think any parent that’s lost a child in tragic circumstances – I think you lose a part of your heart and a part of your soul. I think you kind of go a bit numb.
“We’ve seen two seasons of Travis sort of struggling with his moral self, his conscience, and I think that’s done. No more of that Travis is left. Life becomes a lot simpler for Travis now in season three.”