***The following interview contains spoilers for 2.08***
Recently on The Walking Dead: World Beyond
, Indira, played by Anna Khaja, lost her son, Dev (Abubakr Ali), when he was killed by CRM soldiers, which led to them attacking the community at the Perimeter in tonight’s episode of the series. According to Khaja, who talked to Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview, Indira realizes now that she has to choose a side. “[T]he CRM are not people to gently be dealt with,” said the actress. “They're not an organization to be accepted in any way. Now, she's out for revenge. Now she's going to do what's right. It's what Dev would have wanted. It's what her people stand for. It's what she's always said she stands for. So, that's it. Now, she has nothing to lose. She already lost the greatest thing in her life. Now, she's all in. She has to protect her people, do whatever it takes to protect them.”
According to Khaja, Indira is ready to fight now. “She's ready to join forces with the kids, and everyone's going to come together, but we just don't know how.”
She also said that although Indira is worried for her people, she can’t help but be eager to move against them. “I think that she doesn't like being under the CRM’s thumb, and that she wants to see them go. She wishes someone would take them down. So, I think she's in a position of secret excitement, but really, really scared.”
When the village was breached in the episode, the actress got to do some fighting and work with weapons, which she enjoyed. “The weapons training was, of course, daunting, but also fun. I felt very safe. They flew in an armory person. They had a military advisor on set. Most of the time the guns being used weren't real. It was just really fun. It was it was good to finally have some Walking Dead
action that I've been watching all of my fellow cast mates have.”
For the rest of the interview, be sure to read the full transcript below and watch all-new episodes of The Walking Dead: World Beyond
Sundays on AMC and AMC+. SCIFI VISION: Can you talk about how you got the role originally?
I auditioned. I auditioned with dummy sides. I'm sure a lot of the actors tell you that. So, I didn't really know who I was auditioning for. I just simply had an essence of who she would be. Clearly, the character that they wanted me to portray was someone artistic, mothering, and strong.
So, I put it on tape, and a couple of weeks later, I knew that I was being considered, and then I heard I got the role.
Then, after that, I met with Matt Negrete, the creator, and Loren Yaconelli, who's the producer and director of four of the episodes, and we had a lengthy discussion about the mythology and how Indira’s character plays into it. I was given some hints about the arc of the season, but not too many.
But you did know which show it was for, that it was for World Beyond at that point.
Absolutely. I knew what it was for, and I had watched the first season. I knew that I was going to be a new character who led a new world that was being introduced.
Other than the script, was there anywhere else that you were inspired by for your character, thought about as you created her?
I think that was inspired by the long line of women in my family, on both sides, my father's side and my mother's side, who have always been very independent forgers, some of them artists, many of them teachers. Even my great grandmother was the first female superintendent of schools. I just come from a long line of really independent leader women, and I think I pulled from that.
Could you talk a bit about working with the two actors who play your children?
They're amazing. They're amazing. Abubakr Ali, who plays Dev, has now been cast as Grendel, and he's now the first Arab American superhero on television, or the lead superhero. He and I had worked together before on a show called Tommy
, and I was already such a huge fan of his. The second I watched him work on Tommy
, I was like, “Who is this kid? He's incredible.”
Then, Madelyn Kientz, who plays Asha, is such an incredible actress. I know she's destined to be a star. She's got it all. She's a huge professional, the kindest person, [the] the best actress. I just adore her.
What did you find the most difficult about portraying the character or about the role in general?
Understanding Indira’s contradictions, that she puts fairness, justice, and honesty first, but she also is lying to her people and covering. [It was] also the fact that the community she's created, and created so long ago, prides themselves on independence, yet they're secretly sort of doing the CRMs dirty work and cutting deals with them. That was really hard for me to reconcile and to understand how Indira could be playing both sides like that.
Basically, what I came to, is that she does have ideals, and she does believe in them; it's just that the threat of the CRM is so great that she's forced to compromise. Lieutenant Colonel Kublek (Julia Ormond) is so scary and intimidating, and they formed a friendship earlier on that I think Indira thought was going to be an equal partnership, but then, of course, wasn't, as the CRM continued to grow in power and force…She thought that they were kind of on the same side, and then realizes that they're not. Then, I think that she just truly doesn't feel that there's anyone else capable of leading her people, so she has to hide the fact that she's sick. Can you talk about how they are now fighting because of what’s going on at the base, Iris (Aliyah Royale) sent the note to be ready to fight, but not everybody necessarily knows [everything that’s going on]. Can you talk about that?
…I think that she's very scared for the survival of her people. I think that if she had known that these people were intending to start this much trouble and start a war and take down the CRM, she probably would not have supported them so much, but now that they are, I think she can't help being excited. I think that she doesn't like being under the CRM’s thumb, and that she wants to see them go. She wishes someone would take them down. So, I think she's in a position of secret excitement, but really, really scared. In this week’s episode, Brody (Lee Spencer) betrays them. [I felt like] he was maybe just looking for a reason, though, to go against her, because he wasn't too happy with some of her decisions. Can you talk about that?
Completely agree. I think Indira knows she's constantly being watched by Brody. I think she knows that he's doubted her ability to lead for a while. I think he's scared of the CRM, and he's the kind of guy that would just absolutely give in to them in every single way, and he's really upset that she's not. And I think he's power hungry. I think she knows that, but I also think that Indira is patient and kind and doesn't really believe that Brody will ever do anything to take that power over.
Can you kind of talk about how Dev’s death is going to motivate her go after the CRM? Because now she's ready to go.
So, the death of Dev makes Indira have to confront her own guilt, her own double sidedness. She admits it to her people, and her own complicity in her son's death. She realizes that she has to take a side now. She has to take a side, and the CRM are not people to gently be dealt with. They're not an organization to be accepted in any way. Now, she's out for revenge. Now she's going to do what's right. It's what Dev would have wanted. It's what her people stand for. It's what she's always said she stands for. So, that's it. Now, she has nothing to lose. She already lost the greatest thing in her life. Now, she's all in. She has to protect her people, do whatever it takes to protect them, which is why they leave the the Perimeter village, and which, of course, will then be completely destroyed by the CRM. She's ready to fight, and she's ready to join forces with the kids, and everyone's going to come together, but we just don't know how.
[You get to fight in this episode], so you get to do some stunts and action scenes and all that. How was how was that?
[That] was really cool, because first of all, Indira is a pacifist. She says in, I think it’s episode four, “We haven't seen violence on this land since its founding.” She makes them give up their guns when they first arrive. Peace all the time. Then, now, she's just got these giant machine guns and is out to protect and to do whatever it takes to protect them.
The weapons training was, of course, daunting, but also fun. I felt very safe. They flew in an armory person. They had a military advisor on set. Most of the time the guns being used weren't real. It was just really fun. It was it was good to finally have some Walking Dead
action that I've been watching all of my fellow cast mates have.
Yeah, and I was going to say I don't know whether or not you can tell me whether you kill any walkers, but I’m assuming so, but, regardless, do any of the effects on the show of the zombies ever gross you out when you see them?
Well, they look really real; the zombies are incredible. They're totally scary up close. Also, because the people that play the zombies are so amazing at what they do, they each have their own individual walk and cadence and way of life. They have their own zombie personality. So, that's really cool to see. I mean, we're all there. We know it's fake, and there're all these people standing around, all these crew members standing around. So, it grosses us out, but it's just fun. If we got to get more like flashbacks from your character’s past, is there something that you wish you knew about? I mean, maybe that's something you've discussed, maybe it's just something you'd like to know, but just something that you'd like to get to see about her?
I would love to know more about Indira's past. I would love to know who she was before the zombie apocalypse, and I would love to know how it affected her and how she started this community [and] why, and how she became the leader of it. I'd also like to know how she developed the principles she lives by. Is there somebody you'd like to get to have more scenes with, who you haven't maybe worked as extensively with?
Oh, my gosh, well, first of all, I just want to say, I love my scenes with Jelani Aladdin, who plays Will. He's my favorite person to act with on that set. Joe Holt who plays Leo Bennett is a dear friend of mine for over a decade, so I really, really wish that we got to act together more and have scenes together. And who knows, maybe in some other, you know, Walking Dead
dimension of television, we'll be able to do that.
If we were really in a zombie apocalypse, how do you think that you would do, and if you could take one character from any of the shows with you to help you fight or to protect you or whatever, who would you take? [laughs]
I love it. I think that, at first, I would do really terribly, like I would run and hide, and then someone else would have to get the immediate danger out of the way. Then, once the immediate danger was gone, I think I'd be able to really dig in and forge, forge for myself, work with people cooperate, and kind of stick it out and build a new world and land together. So, I don't think I'd be the fighter, but I think I'd be the survivor. Fair enough. Is there somebody from one of the shows you take with you to help?
Oh, my gosh, well, I mean, I’m going to say my show, and one of the other ones. I'm going to say I would take Jadis. I would take Jadis, Pollyanna McIntosh, because she's [laughs]
such a bad ass, and I think that she'd be the person that would be able to just do the things I couldn't do, you know, clear the perimeter, and be steely, and she's a survivor too. Is there anything about kind of the rest of the season that you can tease, that you’re allowed to say?
Well, I think that we know that a lot of the characters storylines are coming together, and we're going to get to see how they come together. Some characters might find themselves together in physical space, or they might not. I can't confirm or deny that, but they might find themselves together in physical space when they haven't before. [laughs]