***The following interview contains spoilers for the series finale***
Tonight on AMC, The Walking Dead: The World Beyond
came to a close with its series finale. Nico Tortorella, who plays the character of Felix, had quite a big fight scene in the episode with Lieutenant Newton (Robert Palmer Watkins), which the performer said was their favorite part of shooting the entire series. “There was a lot of work that went into it,” said Tortorella, “weeks of fight training and choreography. Steven Ho who was [on] one of our stunt teams was an original Ninja Turtle. The guy who was Robert Palmer Watkins’s stunt double was also Captain America’s stunt double, like all of these stunt legends in this room. And we worked our asses off on that fight. There were so many moving parts.”
They added that since the two of them picked the choreography up quickly, more walkers were added to the scene. The double-sided S-pole that Tortorella got to use was their favorite, even if it was heavy with steel rebar running through it. “There were a few numbers where I flick it up in the air and catch it that in one hundred plus degree heat in leather head to toe with a pending tornado; it wasn't the easiest thing to accomplish, but all [that] being said, I'm so thrilled with how it came out. I think there's such a focused energy from both of us that is really, really strong.”
Besides the great action scenes in the finale, fans of the character will also be happy that Felix finally gets to settle down with his boyfriend, Will (Jelani Alladin), which according to Tortorella, there were conversations about from the beginning with Matt Negrete. “I think Matt had plans of them building a family together in the future at some point, which was always something that was in the back of my head…And at the end of this season, we see the two of them together. They're newly wedded.”
The performer teased that there is room for fans to see more between the two characters, “[W]ho knows; we know they love a spin-off in this universe. There could be room for it.”
For the rest of the interview with the performer, be sure to read the full transcript below.
SCIFI VISION: A lot happens in this finale. Obviously, since the beginning of the series, Felix’s motivation has always been to protect these girls. Can you kind of just talk about his reasoning for why he chose to stay with their father (Joe Holt) and Hope (Alexa Mansour) and not go with Iris (Aliyah Royale) when she left at the end?
I don't think that was Felix's decision.
Or why he didn’t fight it, I guess.
I think Iris made that decision to leave. I don't think that she wanted anyone to go with her. It was really one of those moments that was her growing up in front of our eyes, and we have seen that continue to happen for two seasons now with her character. That's a good question. I've never really thought about it. I mean, I think there is a world in which Felix and Will both go with Iris, but she's ready to do this on her own.Can you talk about filming - the choreography, weapons, everything, about the scene in the finale of Felix killing the one soldier, because that's really crazy. The fight scene at least looks like it was a lot of fun.
It was my favorite part of shooting the entire series to be honest with you. There was a lot of work that went into it, weeks of fight training and choreography. Steven Ho who was [on] one of our stunt teams was an original Ninja Turtle. The guy who was Robert Palmer Watkins’s stunt double was also Captain America’s stunt double, like all of these stunt legends in this room. And we worked our asses off on that fight. There were so many moving parts.
Originally, it was less walkers than what were even shown, and we both picked up all the choreography pretty quickly that everyone was like, “All right, we need more walkers; let's just do more.” That weapon, the double sided S-pole, was a lot heavier than I think anyone imagined it was going to be. There were a few numbers where I flick it up in the air and catch it that in one hundred plus degree heat in leather head to toe with a pending tornado; it wasn't the easiest thing to accomplish, but all [that] being said, I'm so thrilled with how it came out. I think there's such a focused energy from both of us that is really, really strong. I think that, like in so many ways, he tried to gut me at the top of that scene with his words, and Felix was just like, “No, no, no.”
That’s the other thing I wanted to ask you. I mean, other than he kills him, I guess that is his reaction, but Felix doesn't say anything. The words that he used, does it still hurt him? Do you think he has now moved on with what happened?
Yeah, I think he's totally [okay]. I mean, look, trauma always stays with you; you're reminded of it. I think that we all have different ways of deflecting and disassociating, but it will always hit a button. I think it actually gave Felix even more energy to kill him. Like, it was a stupid move by Lieutenant [Newton], but I think Felix in this moment is post trauma. There's no time to think about, “Oh, dad kicked me out of the house,” right now. We are fighting a regime of people that are creating genocide in the world and wiping out entire populations and cities. My dad kicking me out of the house for being gay is not of the utmost importance.
I get that. I was going to ask you what your favorite weapon was, but I guess that would be my answer.
It’s definitely that double sided S-pole; that thing was so much fun. I wish it was a little more hollowed out on the inside and not steel rebar running through it, but we made it work.
Yeah, I'm surprised that it was heavy. I guess it probably makes it easier to act with it when it's more realistic in that sense.
The thing is, in television, you're just constantly fighting the clock, and things need to happen so fast, and when you're in - not that Richmond is a small town, but you have a limited amount of resources around you in terms of, “We need this weapon made in the next forty-eight hours,” or whatever it is. So, you kind of just gotta roll with the punches, and that's every step of the way, but that's the magic of television and filmmaking. There is such an incredible group of people around you that make that happen, no matter what.
So, what was it about Felix’s journey that surprised you the most over the two seasons?
I think it's interesting, because I don't know that there was much that surprised me. I think that [with] the idea of a limited two season series there's just a different approach to your character. Like there's not this open ended [thing where] you have no idea what's going to happen; like this could go on forever. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end. So, it's more limited it just in terms of how you even approach the character, at least for me.
Did you know then what his full trajectory was from the beginning?
No, no, not at all. None of us did.
Since it is only two seasons, and this you may not have any answer for, but I was thinking about how I know sometimes actors are either given pieces of information that the audience don't get in order to play the character, or sometimes even maybe you have to make up a piece of your backstory or whatever, just so you can connect to it. Is there anything that either was not in the show that they gave you or something that was just in your mind about Felix maybe that fans don't know about, that you've thought of? Or there might not be, which is okay.
No, I mean, I think early on at the beginning with Matt, there were conversations about the future of Felix and Will specifically, and I think Matt had plans of them building a family together in the future at some point, which was always something that was in the back of my head, like that dad energy from Felix. And I've been playing a dad in a lot of different areas of my life recently; I have on camera and off camera. So, I felt like I carried that energy with me through playing him the whole time, like dad, husband energy. And at the end of this season, we see the two of them together. They're newly wedded, and, I mean, who knows; we know they love a spin-off in this universe. There could be room for it.
Yes. So, if they asked you to come do one of the other shows, then you'd be you'd be down for that?
We would need to have some conversations. Let's be honest. [laughs]
Fair enough. So, what did you just overall find maybe the most difficult part of connecting with Felix?
I don't know that it's connecting with Felix, specifically. I think that because there are so many different moving parts, especially in the second season, it’s just such a giant show with so much information, that as an actor, it's kind of hard to keep the emotionality consistent when there's so much information that needs to be delivered to the audience that has nothing to do with your character, really, for the most part. So, balancing those two things was interesting as an actor, and as a character.
Then, the last two episodes I shadowed the director, Loren Yaconelli. I’m forever grateful that Matt and Loren were down for me to do that. So, I felt like I was more part of those episodes than anything else, because I was there for a lot more of it.
You know, as an actor, you're not at work unless you're working. You have no idea, like, you read a script a few times at the beginning of television, then you don't really look at what you're not in again. Then, like, months, almost sometimes years, pass until you see that stuff on television, and there's a disconnect. Like, you read it once, and then it comes to life, and you thought it was gonna look another way, and then it - whatever. It's all relative. Each experience is different, obviously, but I think, because there's so much information in this series to really build a much larger narrative, for me, this season was less about the characters journeys, and more about the larger picture of The Walking Dead
That makes sense. Since starting the show, I mean, obviously, you've had a career before this; you weren’t as new to acting as some of the younger cast, but has your life changed a lot, though, since you started working on the show, because it is such a huge franchise?
Yeah, I mean, it's a difficult question to ask, because this (Zoom) has been the extent of press in the last few years, and the second we wrapped the first season, the pandemic hit, and we went to one Comic-Con, in New York. So, I haven't even really experienced the fandom in person yet. I'm looking forward to it when it happens, but on a personal level, like direct face to face, no, my life hasn't changed.
Okay, well, it makes sense. The other thing I wanted to ask you that I’ve been asking everyone is if the zombie apocalypse was real, how do you think that you would do? Would you do good or bad in the zombie apocalypse? And if you could take one character from the universe with you, who would it be?
I would do very well; I would do very well. I'm currently in my parents’ house in Florida and [I have] access to weapons, we'll just say. Right now, if it happened, we're good; we’re very good.
Then, which character from The Walking Dead
universe would I want to bring with me?Yeah.
I mean, I'm gonna say Silas, just because I want to hang out with Hal Compston for the rest of my life. That's what I'm going to say. [laughs]