Exclusive: Aisha Tyler on Playing Fear the Walking Dead’s "Post-Apocalyptic Cowgirl," Mickey

***The following interview contains spoilers about 705***

Aisha TylerFear the Walking Dead
 continued its run of fantastic guest stars this week with Aisha Tyler as Mickey, a tough survivor who meets Dwight (Austin Amelio) and Sherry (Christine Evangelista) on the road. Tyler (Archer, Criminal Minds) has directed episodes of Fear and The World Beyond, but this is the first time she has acted in the franchise.

In an exclusive interview, SciFi Vision asked Tyler, a TWD superfan, how she felt about being asked to play Mickey.

“It was really wonderful, she said. “It was incredibly flattering, first of all, and then the delight of getting a really extraordinary character, someone really special…[F]or me, this character was really one of a kind. The fact that they were willing to entrust me with her, with this character and with this extraordinary arc, was just a delight.”

As a character, Tyler told SciFi Vision, Mickey had it all. “She had all the stuff that the nerd in me was excited about and then all this other stuff that the actor in me was excited about.”

Aisha Tyler“…There was this combination of her being this badass post-apocalyptic cowgirl with this beautiful emotional arc of her trying to find the man that she loved and lamenting lost time and lost opportunities. In a lot of ways, she was someone who had really given her passion and her love, her all, and I really loved that. She gets to fight; she gets to ride. She gets to cry; she gets to wrestle. She gets to kill walkers. It was the whole shebang.”

Sherry and Dwight join Mickey’s search for her missing husband, Cliff. Unfortunately, things don’t go as Mickey had hoped, and that’s fine with Tyler.

“Not every story is going to get a happy ending,” she reminded us. “I think that's true in the real world as much as it is in the apocalypse. And I think every time any pair find each other, whether it's a romantic pair, a filial, familial pair, or just two friends who care about each other, every time they find themselves in this world, in the Fear world, it's a miracle. It’s never par for the course.

“I think that was a big part of the meditation of the story of Dwight and Sherry, and what they were communicating to Mickey was, ‘We found each other. That shouldn't have happened.’ So in the end, she did find Cliff, and she got closure.”

Losing Cliff even gives Mickey a purpose, said Tyler. “I think that moment of her losing him and feeling like there was no reason to go on and then transforming into a woman who was like, ‘No, even though I've lost my person, I'm going to take this pain, and I'm going to turn it into something beautiful, and I'm going to help other people,’ to me, that was really the beautiful message of that story.”

At the end of the episode, Mickey joins the Dark Horses. Will we see her riding with Dwight and Sherry in the next episode? Tyler isn’t telling. “I would love to play Mickey again and my fingers are crossed that she comes back,” she admitted. “That's all I can say! But I really do love her, and I really do hope I get to play her again.”

We also asked Tyler about filming the walker wrestling smackdown and inquired about how she thinks she’d fare in a real zombie apocalypse. Read those detailed answers and more in the interview below and don’t miss Fear the Walking Dead Sundays on AMC.

SCIFI VISION:   You're a well known fan of the show, I think it's fair to call you a super fan.
 

AISHA TYLER:   
I'll take it.

You were a regular guest on The Talking Dead even before you worked on the show, and I know you were thrilled to direct, but what was it like to be asked to act, to join the cast? 

It was really wonderful. It was incredibly flattering, first of all, and then the delight of getting a really extraordinary character, someone really special. Not like all the other characters in this world aren't extraordinary, but sometimes in television on other shows, you get stuff [that you think] “This is gonna be fun,” but for me, this character was really one of a kind. The fact that they were willing to entrust me with her, with this character and with this extraordinary arc, was just a delight.

I wanted to ask you about Mickey. You did some advance interviews where you talked about how you love this character, I think you might have even said she was perfect. Now that this will run after the episode, can you talk about why Mickey spoke so much to you?

She had all the stuff that the nerd in me was excited about and then all this other stuff that the actor in me was excited about. So, she was someone who, [when] you meet her, she's a badass and she overpowers Dwight and she's fighting off who she thinks [are] people trying to take her away.

Then, after you crack this tough [exterior], you find out that she's lost the love of her life and her whole being is in pursuit of him. She's risked her life to find him again. There was this combination of her being this badass post-apocalyptic cowgirl with this beautiful emotional arc of her trying to find the man that she loved and lamenting lost time and lost opportunities. In a lot of ways, she was someone who had really given her passion and her love, her all, and I really loved that. She gets to fight; she gets to ride. She gets to cry; she gets to wrestle. She gets to kill walkers. It was the whole shebang.

Aisha TylerI do feel like on the show lately we've been seeing some couples. Morgan (Lennie James) and Grace (Karen David) are are struggling. Grace is struggling; they're kind of solid. Sherry and Dwight have maybe never been stronger. And then we see poor Mickey, also a really solid relationship and she loses him.

Mmm hmm.

We also see Sarah (Mo Collins) and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell), if we want to talk about them as a pair, searching also. I felt like Mickey was the one who got the bad end of the stick this week.

Well, I think what that was was realism, right? Not every story is going to get a happy ending. I think that's true in the real world as much as it is in the apocalypse. And I think every time any pair find each other, whether it's a romantic pair, a filial, familial pair, or just two friends who care about each other, every time they find themselves in this world, in the Fear world, it's a miracle. It's never par for the course.

I think that was a big part of the meditation of the story of Dwight and Sherry, and what they were communicating to Mickey was, “We found each other. That shouldn't have happened.”

So, in the end, she did find Cliff, and she got closure. I think that moment of her losing him and feeling like there was no reason to go on and then transforming into a woman who was like, “No, even though I've lost my person, I'm going to take this pain, and I'm going to turn it into something beautiful, and I'm going to help other people,” to me, that was really the beautiful message of that story. But honestly, I like that, that it didn't go her way, because I think as many times as things go people's way, they don't, and it's how we react and how we bounce back that really defines us. So, I thought that was a really interesting arc to play.

You mentioned closure. This could easily have been a standalone story and Mickey could have gone her own way, but it looks like she's taken up with the Dark Horses at the end of the episode. I think fans probably will expect to see Mickey again in another episode. I don't know if it's too spoilery for you to talk about Mickey having any kind of storyline going forward. Are you allowed to talk about that?

You know how it is. You know how it is in Fear world. I will say that I would love to play Mickey again, and my fingers are crossed that she comes back. That's all I can say! But I really do love her, and I really do hope I get to play her again.

I feel like these guys don't really do off screen deaths. So I hope that we [see her again]...

[laughs] Interesting take.

I spoke to Christine Evangelista a couple days ago. We talked about your amazing zombie massacre in the wrestling ring. That is a standout scene, I think across the entire franchise.

It is.

Can you talk about shooting that?

Yeah. I think a big challenge in all of The Walking Dead universe is to do something new. How do we do something that hasn't been done before in this world? And it's a real challenge. I think, combined between Walking DeadFear, and World Beyond, it's like, I don't know, it's seventeen, nineteen [seasons] of television, and I think the challenge is how do we do something really transporting and different and dynamic? And that was something that had never been done on the show before, which was so awesome.

Then, for me, my main concern was I've never wrestled before and to try to make sure that this feels real and authentic, and not just true to the character, true to The Walking Dead world.

It was great. It was incredibly intense. It was very hot. We were in Texas in the middle of the summer, in that wardrobe, which was really cumbersome and heavy. But I love Austin and Christine and Lennie. We worked together on the episode that I directed, and so there was a real familial feeling that day. The stunt team over there is incredible, and there was just this real feeling of collective effort to make that scene as cool as it could possibly be. So, it was just a blast, honestly. Physically very challenging but absolutely, so much fun.

Christine told me it was so much fun that you guys added an extra day of shooting.

[laughs] We did; we did. We did go back and do another day, which was awesome. Any opportunity to go back and hang out with these guys is absolutely worth it, really. I just adore them.

Lastly, we've been asking all the cast if you lived in this universe, how would you fare in the zombie apocalypse? And if you could take one cast member into your group, who would it be, and why? 

Aisha TylerOh, man, I think that would do pretty well. I remember, I used to get asked this question a lot early on in Walking Dead world, and back then I thought I was a little bit wobblier. But I grew up on science fiction; I was the kind of kid who used to get in trouble for bringing her flashlight to bed [and] staying up all night reading Bradbury and Heinlein and stuff like that. I love post-apocalyptic [fiction]; it was always my thing. So, I've always been the kind of weirdo who was looking for angles and places to hide and how you could turn a paperclip into a weapon. And I definitely am the kind of person who has extra generators and batteries in my house and flashlights stashed everywhere and six months worth of food, so I think I'd be fine. [laughs]

I'm always looking [at it] like, “Oh, that person should run up that tree. They should get into that hole. You always want a machete in the apocalypse; you don't want a gun because machetes don't need to ever be reloaded. They are perpetual ammo.”

So, I think I'd do pretty well, and I would obviously take Morgan. Everybody would take Morgan. Morgan is the person who's had the most time alone in the apocalypse and has done [well] at holding on to his humanity. I think that's been the toughest thing, not just to survive, but to find a way to hold on to who you are, and I think he's [been] the best at that.

He's also maybe one who wouldn't be that annoying to have to live with. [laughs]

He's not super chatty, [laughs] so if you just want some silence, you can have some silence. But I also feel like, in those rare moments of peace when you're not under threat, you could meditate and you could do tai chi with Morgan. He could teach you jujitsu forms. He's like the Obi Wan Kenobi. [laughs]

He knows how to make cheese! He learned how to make cheese! [laughs]

He's going to protect you, and he's also going to teach you how to do a hydroponic underground greenhouse. You want him around, for sure.

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