The biggest change in Fear the Walking Dead season 3 is the arrival of the Otto family. Dayton Callies plays patriarch and border militiaman Jeremiah Otto, who predicted the fall of the American empire and prepared for the worst – although he wasn’t expecting the rise of the dead.
His two sons Jake (Sam Underwood) and Troy (Daniel Sharman) run into the survivors at the start of the new season in an action-packed double episode premiere. But it won’t be entirely clear from the outset whether the new clan on the show are friend or foe.
We caught up with British star Sam to discover all we need to know about the Ottos.
Were you a fan of Fear or The Walking Dead?
I knew of The Walking Dead obviously and then Kim Dickens is an actress that I have a huge admiration for so anything that she is involved with, I check it out. So that was the first reason I checked out Fear. Then the reason I came back for season 2 was Frank Dillane. He’s an incredible young actor. I didn’t watch it when it was first released, but I caught up with it quickly and I was absolutely a big fan.
Is it as scary to work on as it is to watch?
The prosthetics and VFX on this show are amazing. When you are working with the actors who are playing the infected, it is genuinely terrifying and as terrifying as when you watch the show. It’s not something I can separate as actors in make-up.
When you do a big scene, and there’s a big scene at the army base in the premiere, where there’s lots of the infected, it’s slightly comedic. In the middle of takes all these actors are just chatting away, smoking a cigarette and having a coffee and that disarms you a bit. But whenever they have the prosthetics and make-up on and they’re walking around the set near you, I find it creepy – incredibly creepy.
What are you allowed to tell us about Jake?
What can I tell you about Jake? Jake is a lawyer. He went to law school, but before he finished he came home to his dad, who is having land disputes and that’s where he finds himself as the apocalypse begins. So although he’s at his home, it’s not where he intellectually resonates. He has a very different perspective, culture and different outlook. He doesn’t fit in with this community on The Ranch where everyone lives and works now.
He is a guy who operates with a purpose and sense of obligation for his family and the community. Standing outside of the character, I see him as a moral compass. He is someone who will always look for ways around a problem and ways involving the least death. This means he clashes with his brother, who is much more militaristic.
He’s an avid reader, he loves poetry, and he loves literature. He’s the artistic soul on The Ranch and luckily for him, he gets to meet a specific like-minded individual in this season of the show, where some forms of friendship really come about. He’s a man of integrity and he operates with care for his family and those around him.
Do you think his poetic and diplomatic side are weaknesses in the apocalypse?
I think it’s always been a question in the show, but it’s more prominent this season. There are pros and cons to every approach to problem. It resonates to the political world we have right now. You have Jake who would rather not jump into action, but he may miss opportunities to move forward. Jake’s lack of desire to be on the offensive definitely works as a disservice, but it also flips for other characters who possibly run into situations without thinking. I think that’s one of the big questions for this season, what is the new way? What is the way that will ensure survival? Not only for ourselves, but everyone. What do we want from our leaders? Jake embodies that quandary.
Did you like the political edge to the new season?
As an actor and human who enjoys political and social activism, stories that resonate with today’s society are always fascinating. It gives you something really interesting to dig into. I don’t think the show’s original intent was to align like it does, it’s just a coincidence that it matches up with so much that is really going on right now.
The show isn’t trying to mirror or comment on America right now, but like Shakespeare, humanity doesn’t change, the big themes and questions always come back around and are universal. Ideas around racism, dictatorship or leaders taking over, civil unrest – they come back around. I love when things have a specific anchoring and it just so happens that this show and this season is becoming incredibly relevant as it goes along.
Can you explain Jake’s relationship with his brother Troy?
Jake and Troy were brought up with different mothers. Troy’s mother was incredibly abusive and as a kid, Jake was the older brother looking out for his sibling. And that cycle has continued up to the point where you meet them in the show. Troy has been much more rebellious and in scrapes. Jake has always been there to protect him, get him out of trouble and be there for him. Now that Jake has returned from this different world, they’re butting mindsets and the tension is increasing between these brothers. From Troy’s point of view, he doesn’t think he needs Jake’s help anymore, but Jake thinks he does. He also fears for the safety of everyone else, because he sees the baser traits of his brother coming out in this new world.
Fear the Walking Dead’s third season will return with back-to-back episodes on Monday, September 11th on AMC, exclusive to BT customers.
The show returns for the second half of its third season with eight new episodes, airing on BT TV channel 332/381.