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.”

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