The sixth season of “The Walking Dead” returns to AMC Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time, and given that there is one of the bigger villains coming up, who better to speak with than someone who heard his name drop in the closing minutes of season 6A? Sonequa Martin-Green was front and center for that infamous epilogue where Sasha, Daryl, and Abraham met some of Negan’s men, and this scene could be a stepping stone for an intense, incredible second half of the season.
We spoke with Martin-Green earlier today not only about this scene, but also Sasha’s journey over the past year, the experience of being on a show where little is ever guaranteed, and what we can expect from season 6B in general.
CarterMatt – Let’s start off with this: You’ve been on the show now for several seasons and a regular for the past few, so has the experience of doing it become any more comfortable, or does the nature of the show prohibit that from happening?
Sonequa Martin-Green – That’s actually a great question. It’s interesting, comfort. Right? It’s just the idea of comfort. The longer we’re on the show, we certainly get more accustomed to the show. You get better and better at telling the story, you get better and better at dealing with all of the elements, with the heat and how physically challenging the show is. You get better at that. You get a greater sense of who you are in the world. That certainly happens.
Of course, you’re getting closer and closer to the people around you. The castmates, the crew, the writers, all of that good stuff. But, I always know that this is what it is, and I think for all of us when we say that. The nature of this show is spontaneity, unpredictability. You don’t know what’s going to happen, and it bleeds over into the story, actually. We take it one day at a time, one episode at a time, and we enjoy the now.
Does your experience on a show like ‘Once Upon a Time,’ where your character was killed off, help prepare you for what that would be like? It’s something you’ve been through before.
They had to kill me on ‘Once Upon a Time’ because I couldn’t be on the shows at the same time; I was grateful to even do the stint that I did, since it was a lot of fun and very different.
I think that even when jobs end without you dying in the story (laughs), you do [still] prepare [for it]. The longer you’re in this business, the longer you work and the more jobs end. So you just get the hang of the idea that you’re doing this for a time, and then it’s over and you just move on to the next thing, and then the next thing. That’s how the whole industry works, and that’s how your career is going to go from here on out.
What was the experience like for you filming the first half of the season, where you and so many other cast members were apart for long stretches of time? You spent a lot of time with Norman [Reedus] and Michael [Cudlitz], but this season felt a lot like ‘The Walking Dead’ meets ’24’ in how it was set up.
(Laughs) That’s a good way to describe it! It’s happened before on the show, where we all had to split up. Right after the prison fell in season 4, we were all in our little sub-groups until we all got reunited again. For a long time it was me and Lawrence [Gilliard Jr.] and Lauren [Cohan] off on our own, and of course we helped Maggie reunite with Glenn. That was a very interesting season because we were separated for a lot of the season.
We don’t enjoy it tremendously when we all have to be separated. Of course we all want to work together, and so it’s hard since we sort of feel like ‘oh man, where’s my family?,’ because we’re all sort-of separated. But then at the same time there’s great story opportunity when we’re separated. It was a lot of fun hanging with Norman and Michael; we all had fun. We liked the story that was being told and we were happy to tell it, especially episode 6 since that was a blast.
Is there any sense of pride that you, Norman, and Michael feel over that epilogue scene, the first scene on the show to mention the name Negan? For everyone watching the show, hearing that name is obviously a pretty big deal.
Yeah! It was definitely exciting, because it’s been hinted at for so long and a lot of fans who read the comics knew that it was coming and were just like ‘when, when when,’ and then it’s there. You just this sense like ‘it’s on.’ It was definitely cool to be a part of that.
Obviously the name ‘Negan’ doesn’t have the same weight to Sasha that it may to ‘Walking Dead’ fans, but what do you think she is thinking in the minutes after this scene and being told that all of this stuff is being taken from [her group]?
Well, this is war, that’s for sure. And that’s what I’m thinking. ‘Here we go. Anything can happen.’ I will fight. I will fight until I have no fight left in me, because that is what I do. That’s what I’m thinking. I see how things are evolving, why things are happening. We have these men that we know of in the distance, these threats. So there’s a little bit of me that’s not surprised this is happening and that these men are here in front of us and showing their faces, but I’m ready to do whatever and I realize that I’m about to have to.
How would you compare where Sasha is now at mentally compared to where she was near the end of season 5? You had such amazing material then, but of course at the same time we want to root for her to get better [and not be in that place].
I was so pleased with episode 6 because we finally got to see all of her [process] being fleshed out. You see me in the beginning of the season in the premiere, I answer honestly when Abraham asks ‘are you doing this mission because you want to die,’ and for the first time I can honestly say no, I don’t want to die anymore. That’s the first inclination that I’ve moved on, that I’ve seen the light. Now, I’m continuing on that path of healing, honestly. I have those big moments with Abraham, that he is where I was and I can offer that sort of guidance, much like Bob and my brother Tyreese offered me. It’s this amazing cyclical thing where I’ve come out, and I see someone else needs help coming out of it. I’m ready to live, and in living I’m ready to be a part of this group for real. I’m ready to engage, I’m ready to care. I never did before. I always kept myself very consumed with survival, and I never really cared about relationships and stuff like that. I can live that kind of life now and I’m ready.
But, that is also extremely risky. We’ll see what comes as a result of this revolution that happened in me.
I never want to be the person who says ‘tell me what happens,’ so I’ll instead frame this question in a different way: Is there anything in particular you’d like to explore in the whole Sasha / Abraham relationship? Like you said there’s this chance to help him through his demons, and while he’s professed some sort of romantic feelings for her there’s this ambiguity in terms of what’s next.
Right, and I think it was great in how it was written. You can see how these people are similar. You can see how our experiences are very parallel. We both suffer from PTSD, he obviously did a long while ago with losing his family, and then suffered from it again learning that Washington wasn’t real and I’ve certainly gone through it as well. At the same time, we’re both fighters. Here he is, an actual soldier, and I always say that I have a soldier’s mindset. It’s almost like these people seem unlikely, but at the same time they don’t. It makes sense.
So many things can happen, and it can happen in so many different ways. I love that the possibilities are quite endless of where they might go.
It’s already been stated in some other interviews that we’re sticking around Alexandria for a while. Do you think Sasha could eventually become comfortable in this sort of place, or would she better suited to be out on the road again?
I think the first thing I needed to do was be out on the road, because I needed to show an action that linked up to where I was emotionally. I wanted to engage like I said before, so I needed something to confirm that and prove that to myself. That needed to happen, but since I have turned a new leaf I think I am ready to make a place that is home, and be a part of a community and appreciate a community and live among it and die for it. I’m certainly ready for that in a way that I haven’t been before.
I know you’ll have to be vague, but are there any things that you’ve done for the next eight episodes that you’re excited for people to see?
I wish I could tell everybody what happens, because it’s as big as it has ever been, and as big as it can get. Honestly. As wild as the first half was, the second half is mind-blowing. It’s dynamite. It’s SO intense and so compelling and so poignant. I wish I could tell everybody ‘this happened, and then this, and then this, can you believe it?‘. (Laughs.) It’s really going to be a ride, and I think people are really going to enjoy it. Blood pressure is going to be through the roof for people!
Thanks again to Sonequa for her time, and you can head over here to get some other news on “The Walking Dead”! Also, sign up over here to get some other TV news on everything we cover at CarterMatt, sent right to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: AMC.)