10 Questions with TWD’s Ian Casselberry
Ian Casselberry, the actor who portrayed the “talking head” Savior on The Walking Dead, discusses his performance and what’s ahead for him in this special edition of 10 Questions From a Dead Girl
We heard Rick’s rousing speech in the church, calling the people of Alexandria to action to defend themselves and secure the town’s future. We watched him batter the head of a walker and listened to his plan to pass it off as Gregory’s head on that desolate stretch of highway.
Then, we reached the Savior’s compound, and we watched with our hearts pounding as Andy nervously approached. Would the plan work? Could the Saviors be fooled? Would the messenger from the Hilltop keep his cool?
Like Andy, we were tense, and we were nervous. And then, we met them–the two Savior guards who gave us our second glimpse into the attitudes and personalities of Negan’s men.
It’s impossible to forget the Savior who was presented with the walker head. All of us held our breath as he examined it, and what came next was surprising, shocking and downright hilarious.
While he only graced our screens for a few brief minutes, Ian Casselberry gave us one the most memorable comic moments of the season, and the fact that he could make us laugh despite how tense we all were and still have us afraid of what was ahead is a true testament to his skills as an actor.
Recently, I was lucky enough to have the chance to subject him to 10 Questions From a Dead Girl:
How did you land the role on The Walking Dead?
I auditioned for this role. This was probably the fourth or fifth time I’ve auditioned since the show started.
IMDB has your role on TWD listed as “Savior Guard #2.” How much of a backstory did you give your character to play the part? Did you give him a name? A history?
Actually, in the script and when we shot, the other Savior guard called me Gabe. I was actually kind of butt hurt about being “Savior #2” and such a small role, especially after auditioning for bigger roles. But it’s not like you turn down being cast on TWD, so I had to check my ego. I made the conscious choice to check my ego and just do the best I could do and that meant being the scariest most demented mofo I could be. The writing did most of the work for me. I just had to honor that and make it truthful. A lot of props goe to the director Greg Nicotero for taking the reigns off and really giving me permission and time to build the tension.
What did that walker head feel like exactly?
The head was really cool. The mold was that of the director Nicotero. It was all gooey and wet on the inside. Kind of heavy, too. Very lifelike as far as fake heads go. Very cool.
“Not Tomorrow Yet” was such a tense episode. What was the mood like on the set when you were filming it?
The mood on set was actually very playful. TWD cast are exceptionally warm and welcoming. They’re definitely a family and are great about welcoming and supporting the newcomers, at least in my experience and of other friends who have been on the show. At one point during one of the takes, in the part where they all come stealthily swooping in after killing the first guard, as a prank the whole cast came running in screaming loudly and in chaos. It was pretty funny.
How did they make it look like you were really stabbed through the chest?
For the stabbing, the sword they was only about two feet long and covered in a bright green “paint” for the green screen affects to be done in post. It was not sharp so “Michonne” was able to push it into my back pretty hard. I had to push back and fall a certain way for the camera. It was actually the more challenging scene of the night for me.
How have fans of TWD reacted to your character?
The fans have been pretty cool and showed some love. It’s really cool when people tell you they loved your scene, and it actually made them lol. With such a small role, it feels good to know you stood out. But it’s nothing crazy. I think I have like a 100 new twitter followers, which is a lot for me.
As a fan of the show, what was it like playing a potential threat for characters that you have spent so much time cheering for?
I am a fan of the show, but I was an actor first so I love and look for the conflict. It’s my job to get in there and mix it up. I’m actually bummed I couldn’t take a few people with me on the way out, and not just for this show. In any role where I die, I always hope I can take at least a few people with me to show my worth as a warrior.
You were recently in the movie Triple 9. How is working on a feature film different than appearing in an episode of a long-running series?
For the most part in TV vs film, the only thing that is different would be the pacing and even then, it’s slight and subtle. But for this particular episode they needed the tension so I really had to draw it out. But when working on something like Triple 9, we had whole neighborhoods and apartments locked down. It was insanely fun. Literally playing cops and robbers, shooting at people and getting shot at without real world consequences, is a blast.
I hear you’re in the upcoming comedy Keanu. What can you tell me about it?
I am in Keanu. I’m flattered you mentioned that. I really can’t say too much but def go see it. I’m another nefarious character thugho. No surprise, right? Key and Peele and the director Peter Atencio, were great to work with and a lot of fun. It should be a really funny movie.
I’m sure working on a movie with Key and Peele is really exciting, but what I really want to know is–did you get to meet Keanu?
Hahaha, Keanu Reeves? No, not this time around. I did get to play with really cool kittens they called Keanu, though. Really, isn’t that what’s most important??
BONUS QUESTION: What’s it like working with an animal?
It’s a trip working with animals because there are several of them, and they all have a different temperament, and you’re not allowed to randomly play with them when they’re “working”. But it’s understandable. They always get treated very well and the handlers are very professional, looking out for the animals well being.