Fear the Walking Dead has returned for a sixth season, but production on the zombie drama’s latest run of episodes proved more challenging than usual when – as with all major film and TV projects – filming was halted following the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking to RadioTimes.com, Morgan Jones actor Lennie James recalled how what was supposed to be a short break between episodes kept on expanding as the realities of COVID-19 began to sink in.
“It’s been a trip, to be absolutely honest,” James said. “The thing about it is, what it turned out to be is not what you thought it was going to be when it started. We had come to a natural break – we had shot eight episodes, we had eight episodes to shoot, we normally take a week or a two week break in-between, so at the beginning, we were just taking our week or two week break in-between halves of the show.”
But this regular break ran to a month, then two months, then several more as it became clear that it wouldn’t be practical to return to filming under the usual conditions.
Filming on Fear the Walking Dead was shut down in March 2020 and eventually restarted in late August. “The focus really has been on keeping people safe and [also] allowing people to get back to work, and that’s being taken at a deliberate pace in order to make sure that we learn from our mistakes but also that our mistakes aren’t catastrophic and that our mistakes don’t lead to anybody becoming infectious,” James explained.
“It’s odd, it’s new, it’s a new routine, but we’ve got to get used to it because it’s the only way we can get back to any kind of semblance of the way we do our job.”
Filming under new safety restrictions wasn’t the only new experience for James this season – the actor was also given the opportunity to step behind the camera to direct an episode of Fear the Walking Dead, following in the footsteps of his co-star Colman Domingo, who plays Strand on the series.
“Colman was my mentor – he looked after me all the way through it, and it was good also that his character Strand is a big focus of my episode,” James said. “Seeing Colman do it, it really did give me confidence that it was all possible, so he was of big help – through all the stages as well. He was a guy I could speak to when we were going through the edit, and when we were getting to the final cut, and [he was telling me] what to expect and what not to expect and what’s normal and what’s not normal. Colman was there all the way through.”
Having taken the leap, James revealed that he’s keen to direct another episode of Fear in the future, explaining that he’s keen to put into practice some of what he learnt while making his debut. “I will direct again on Fear, only because first time around, it was first time around!” he said. “I was aware of when I was being led, I was aware of when I was being supported, and I was aware of when I was in charge.
“As I have this opportunity here at Fear, I will take it again just so I can put into practice what I’ve learnt from the first time around. When you’re doing it, sometimes you don’t know what you can do until after you’ve done it, so you need to put it into practice again – that’s why I’ll have another go here on Fear, if they let me!”
Fear the Walking Dead airs on Mondays at 9pm on AMC UK on BT TV – check out what else is on with our TV Guide