Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron in The Walking Dead discusses the incident that changed Alexandria’s security policies and more. Warning: spoilers ahead…
Q: Michonne has finally agreed to let Alexandria be a part of the fair. How big of a step is this?
A: It’s a first step towards building the communities again in a real way. I think Michonne, rightly so, adopted an isolation approach… I think Aaron and Jesus were some of the ones who thought that we are stronger when all together. Even though he’s been fighting against Michonne’s wishes at times, he’s grateful she finally acquiesced. It’s really important that these communities get together and see if they can work together again to build a better future.
Q: The second half of the season is all about this new kind of threat. Aaron has dealt with the Saviors directly, but how do the Whisperers compare?
A: I think Alpha and the Whisperers make Negan and the Saviors look like child’s play, honestly… [Laughs] They basically just kill so that they can maintain their parameters and whatever they decide in their minds belongs to them. At least with the Saviors, there were clear and defined rules. If you gave them half of your stuff and were a consistent provider, then you stayed alive. It was pretty harsh, of course, but I think what Alpha brings is absolute chaos. They believe anybody who hasn’t adopted their lifestyle is a blight upon the Earth and they want to wipe them out.
Q: In Episode 14, we get a look back at what exactly caused Alexandria’s tougher policy on welcoming newcomers. What were your thoughts upon reading the script?
A: I thought it was a really bold script, but also so heartbreaking. What those kids had to go through, what everyone had to go through in that episode was just horrendous. It very clearly sets up why Michonne has this very staunch, isolationist approach. She’s right in thinking that the time to trust new people is over – even people you knew in your past. What we have in front of us, and the family we have in front of us, is the most important thing. It was a beautiful episode.
Q: Aaron is hesitant to let Lydia in when she shows up. How is he personally still navigating the fallout from this incident?
A: Yeah, Aaron doesn’t trust her. His best trait is smelling out good people and smelling out bad people. He’s always known the difference between the two pretty well. It’s pretty apparent that there’s something about her that he cannot trust… The group that she comes from is the most scary, psychopathic killers that the group has ever encountered. He’s happy to defer judgment to Daryl in this regard, but he definitely has his guard up. She won’t win his trust without earning it.
Q: Do you believe adopting Gracie and becoming a parent has changed Aaron?
A: Completely. I think it’s given him a purpose after losing Eric and certainly now after losing Jesus. Losing the people he was closest with has filled his heart with immense sadness, but taking on this parental role has given him a reason to keep fighting and provide a better future for his daughter.
Q: How have you been getting on with your new prosthetic arm?
A: I love it! KNB EFX did a cast of my arm and covered it all in this gooey, resin, epoxy stuff. That was on my arm for about 45 minutes until it set, then they put a new layer on top of that to set. Then, they pulled it all off and filled it with another kind of resin. When that solidified, they cracked the outer shell and built the case around my hand. So, it was made to my exact specifications. Once my hand is in there, it doesn’t move at all. It’s kind of a clam shell design that closes on top of the for arm. I was blown away by the iterations it’s gone through to get to where it’s at now.
Q: Is Carl’s vision for the future something that’s become more difficult to carry out or does it still serve as an ongoing reminder?
A: There’s a great quote from Season 8: “my mercy prevails over my wrath.” I think that’s the mindset that Carl wanted to leave everyone with. You can do the “eye for an eye” approach as long as you want, but it won’t build a lasting future. He wanted to impress upon everyone that all the killing and violence won’t lead to anything good. Building a real accord between all the communities is the only way to have a thriving and abundant future. Judith is that future. She brings in new optimism and new hope. Everyone is seeing this world fall apart around them, but she never knew the world before the apocalypse. It’s kind of amazing that she has this bright-eyed approach to life. She’s not beaten down by the sadness and loss of the world before and she’s able to see it in a really fresh light. It’s wonderful.