The mysterious Victor Strand became a breakout character when he arrived near the end of Fear the Walking Dead’s first season, and he will prove to be a pivotal character when he brings our not-so-merry band of survivors out of his boat, Abigail, to escape the zombie apocalypse currently laying waste to Los Angeles. We spoke to the man who plays Strand, Colman Domingo, about what to expect in season 2.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You came on very late in season 1, but everyone was immediately intrigued by this character.
COLMAN DOMINGO: Of course, because I came in so late in the game and I’m very mysterious and all these questions, like, who is this dude? Why is he wearing a Ralph Lauren suit in this cage? What’s he doing here, and why is he so amazing with language and decimating grown men to tears? Then, what does he want with Nick? So, there are all these questions swirling around. So, I think the moment Victor Strand entered, there were just a lot of questions popping off. And Victor Strand seemed to be ahead of the game in some way, and he just seemed really stealthy and smart, and you can’t tell whether or not he’s good, or bad, or beautiful, or sexy, or hideous.
What was the description that the showrunner Dave Erickson gave you on this guy when you were cast?
He just told me he was a mysterious guy and he’s affluent and that he has a lot of mysterious things that will come up in his back-story that will hopefully tell people a bit more about his character and why he’s the way he is.
I think the big question from season 1 is, is he just in it for himself? Does he give a crap about other people? Or is it only about how they can help him achieve his means?
Well, I think the jury’s still out, actually, and I think that it’s case by case. He’s dealing with the circumstances, and he deals in black and white. He’s not really gray. So I think that he will look and assess the situation and make a decision in that moment, based on what is for the best, whether it’s for himself or whether it’s for everyone else. And that’s still uncertain.
He doesn’t seem like a guy that’s going to sacrifice himself for other people.
Well, he could, you never know. If there is a point to all of it, I think he would put himself on the line if he thought, okay, what is the best thing to do? What is the best in this scenario? He really just weighs the pros and cons of everything.
You’ve been filming in Mexico out in this water tank that James Cameron built for Titanic. What is it like, filming in this giant water tank?
We have three tanks. One tank — I don’t even know how many feet deep, but it’s ridiculous where you can actually do the underwater photography. There’s another tank where the boat is housed and we can do things like go out on a Zodiac or something like that and come back in, which is really cool.
At first we thought, are we going to need Dramamine and things like that? And we really don’t. The boat is in three or four parts, all over. Some are in soundstages. The major part of it is on the tank, and you can see the horizon line, which is really cool. We really do catch a sunrise and a sunset every day. For work, that’s kind of insane and beautiful. And then you’re always ready for a margarita, because you are in Mexico and what else are you supposed to do, you know?
You mentioned Dramamine. Are you a guy that gets seasick? Was that a concern of yours?
I know that Kim Dickens was worried. She got something from her doctor just to make sure. And I thought, I’m not sure, we’ll take it as it comes. I had to go do some yacht training, actually, in San Diego, so I knew exactly what I was doing. For the first time, I thought, oh, this is cool, I could really get into having a boat.
Did you know when you first started that Abigail was a boat? When you read your first script, did you know that or not?
No. I didn’t know what Abigail was, exactly, until I read the next episode. And then we’ll still figure out who Abigail is named after, which will be kind of cool, in season 2, right?
We know that’s going to be a big difference between season 1 and season 2 just because of the water. Are there any other differences in the season, in terms of tone or pace or a lot new characters coming in or anything like that?
We have a whole lot of new characters coming in, a lot of guests. And also, I know that the biggest comment of last season was that the pacing was very slow because it was building character and relationships and family. But now, when I tell you it is amped up, every episode is epic. I swear to you. Every time I open up an episode, I’m like, “Are you kidding? Are we going to do all that? We’re going to shoot all that in eight days?” There’s so much going on, because here we are in the middle of this apocalypse, and we’ve got to go. It’s go, go, go, go, go, go, and there are enormous changes and shifts in character, personality, very quickly.
So, people’s heads are going to spin. And the way the episodes are written, they’re very emotional, because you really are dealing with the challenges of who we are as humans as we deal with an apocalypse. And honestly, I was on a plane once [reading a script], I think it was episode 2, where I actually had to turn to the side because I was sobbing because it was that emotional. So, I think they are raising the bar, again. That was the attempt with everything — with location, with casting, etcetera. We’re just taking it up a notch.
In the trailer, we see problems on both land and at sea. What’s more dangerous out there?
Okay, so what’s more dangerous these days, people or zombies?
That’s a great question, I think that from Victor Strand’s point of view, the greatest danger is people. Because you have to watch everyone you came on this boat with. You have to watch them now, because everyone’s shifting and changing. And you have to look at your family, you have to look at your friends.
It’s interesting how the issues raised in a show about zombies can resonate with what is actually happening in our society. You could look in our society now, where you have those moral questions of there being other people that are suffering, and having a really hard time. Maybe I’ve got a little more comfort and safety. Do I help these people, or does that put me in jeopardy and risk? I imagine being on a boat, and then there’s one shot in the trailer with people asking for rescue help. Do you help these people or not? I have to assume that’s going to be a big moral issue we’re going to look at.
That is a huge moral issue. I love that what Dave Erickson was very interested in with this series is dealing with class. Because we’re not waking up in Rick Grimes’ territory. We’re still dealing with who we are, and Victor Strand holds the keys in many ways. Here’s this wealthy man, and they’re on his boat, and then there are going to be challenges in whether or not he can still maintain that level. Because this is his, and he’s owning these things, but also the rules have shifted. And so, there is no class anymore. But do people know that? They’re still dealing with the old rules. So, there are a lot of challenges in that way, and that’s going to be exciting for people to figure out.