Sonequa Martin-Green gave birth to her son Kenric Justin Green II on Jan. 10. That means she was very pregnant during filming for The Walking Dead’s fifth season, which wrapped in November. So how did she and producers hide her bulging belly since her character Sasha—as far as we know—is not pregnant? We asked Martin-Green when we caught up with her on set last fall, and also got her thoughts on the season so far and where it’s heading next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So tell me first off about all the creative ways they’re hiding your pregnancy. Are they having you behind lots of desks and carrying lots of things?
SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN: Yeah, that’s what people were saying, except that in the Walking Dead world I’d be hiding behind guns and dead bodies and walkers. No, it’s actually been great. I’m really blessed to have a great pregnancy. I’m not swollen or blown up anywhere else. I’m very grateful for that. It’s helped hide the whole thing, because it’s really just my stomach we have to deal with. For the longest time, just the layers that I’m wearing would hide the whole thing. And my gun is really big, so that helps too. So it’s been okay, and now at this point it’s about just doing good right angles and not turning to a full profile. As long as I’m face-on, there’s a trick of the camera—you can’t quite see it.
Let’s talk about Sasha, post-Bob. How is she changed after that whole incident?
Oh, goodness. Well it’s no good. The change really isn’t a good one at all. Bob really signified the beginning of hope for her. It’s something I always talk about with her, because it is such a big part of her, this struggle to be open or not open. She was very closed-off after everything that happened in season 4 with Terminus, which was what she had suspected. It was almost as if Bob came by and saved her from that exclusion. It was the first time someone got through to her. He was able to see through her from the very beginning, which is one of the reasons she eventually opened up to him. Somehow he got through to her more than Tyreese, more so than the other people in their group—not just to survive, but to live. The romance also helped, because suddenly there is hope, there is a promise of something delightful to look forward to. He gave her something to look forward to. She had just started on that path, “I will do this. I will check in. I will be a part of this.” And then he leaves; he gets ripped from her. So the change is not a good one, because it just takes her further than she’s ever been to that individual state of being where “it’s just me, I refuse to connect with anyone else.”
What about her relationship with Tyreese now?
I think there’s a disparity between them, and there always has been. They’ve always seen life in a different way. But that distance between them is definitely growing because they’ve both gone through some pretty traumatic things that have pushed them further to what they were already feeling. Tyreese, being the kind of man who just refuses to disconnect from humanity, has been driven closer to that because of what happened with the girls. Sasha, on the other hand, is someone who has always been apt to step away from humanity and close herself off. So it’s very interesting to see how this wedge between them plays out and if the familial connection between the two of them, that blood that’ll never go away, will win out and maybe bring them closer together, or if they’ll just continue to get further apart. It’s actually a very interesting dynamic that they have now because of what’s happened.
What else can you tell about where she’s at right now and where her arc might be going?
It’s all about exposure as we go along with her. She just gets more and more exposed. I’ve said that before, but that’s the best way I can describe it. Those defenses she’s put up are starting to be challenged and broken down, little by little. It’s not good in her mind that it’s happening. It’s not comfortable; it’s very painful. It’s going to be very interesting to see as she continues to open up, because she does, and that exposure is very visceral and harsh for her.
You’ve been on the show now for a little while. Tell me how Season 5 feels, thematically, different from 3 and 4.
Oh, it’s definitely different. It’s one of many things I love about the show—that each season has its own identity. Each season builds on the next. Thank goodness for that, because it could not be that way. But we have such good people working on the show, both behind and in front of the camera, that it does build. This is a very revealing season about the inner workings of everyone. Something that we’re continuing to play with thematically is the threat of humans versus the threat of zombies and how exactly do we negotiate that? And another thing that we’re toying with this season is individual identity. Who are you? More importantly, who are you within the group? And who are you going to be after all that’s happened to us?
Everybody has had to make that decision, starting from when the prison went. You saw everyone going down different paths. There were people who went down extreme paths of hope, and people who went down extreme paths of isolation. That is going to get delved into even more. After everything, and now after Terminus, which was another promise of a safe place that blew up in our faces, who are we going to be and how are we going to operate, individually and with each other, and then with the rest of the world? Are we going to shut the rest of the world out and it’s just us? Are we going to shut each other out? How are we going to behave? We have to answer those questions.
Has the violence surprised you this season? There was some gruesome stuff in the premiere and then you get to episode 503 and you’re just jacking the guy in the church. Were you taken aback?
I was actually, I was. We’ve always been very true to this world. This show is known for its authenticity. The world is only getting more and more depraved, and we have to be true to that brutality. It’s shocking to see, and tragic to see, but unfortunately, that’s the world they live in, that’s the story we’re telling. Things are only going to keep getting worse, as they would in a zombie apocalypse. You’re only going to get less and less trusting of other people, more thrown into violence and all of that. When I see it on the page, it does shock me. We didn’t think a lot of that stuff was going to make it to the air, especially with the premiere and everything. I think is an adult show if ever it was, and it sort of is what it is. The good thing is that the story is always the star. The story is always what’s most important. It’s always going to be a character-driven story and the connection the audience has with the people, with how they’re navigating through this world, rather than the violence of it. It’s never going to be glorified or gratuitous in that way. It’s just unfortunately authentic.