Fear the Walking Dead's Alycia Debnam-Carey Talks Directorial Debut

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One of Fear the Walking Dead's most beloved stars stepped behind the camera to direct Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 11.

Alycia Debnam-Carey has played Alicia Clark since Fear the Walking Dead Season 1 Episode 1, and TV Fanatic got the chance to chat about her experience directing a pivotal installment.

Check out the interview below.

Alicia in a New Place - Fear the Walking Dead

What did you enjoy the most about stepping behind the camera to direct the episode?

Alycia Debnam-Carey: it's so hard to pick one because it really was such an incredible experience across the board. It was just a game-changer of an experience. I got to experience so many things for the first time. It was all an exciting challenge, but it was also really rewarding.

What drew me to direct in the first place and what I love about it is having a lot more creative control in every facet of creating an episode. You know, you get to call the shots and make choices, and having been on the show for a long time, you get to a point where you start formulating your own really strong opinions about what you would want to do or how you would want characters to interact and how you'd want to present the story.

Alicia in Trouble - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9

I was able to exercise that muscle of my own choices with the confidence of being on a show that I've known for so long. It really was getting to make those creative choices and then visual choices and calling the shots to me. That was just so cool.

I guess having watched it over the years, seeing what other people have done, and being able to finally do it myself, that was just a really kind of out-of-body, really exciting experience. It just sort of was being able to tell the story the way I wanted to tell it for so long and after having been a part of it and seeing other people do it for so long.

Some of your co-stars have already directed episodes of the show. Did you ask any of them for advice?

Both Colman [Domingo] and Lennie [James] were really, really helpful. I went to them before I even directed and just wanted to get their thoughts and insights. Lennie gave me a hilarious book called Directing actors, which I loved. They both gave their well wishes and support. They gave me little tips.

Finding Answers - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9

One of the biggest things was Lennie was like, "Just make sure you're in every conversation, be in every room, like make sure you're like getting all the information you need."

Colman was like, "be prepared, just be really, really prepared. You're the one that everyone's going to come to, and you need to have all the answers." So I was lucky to have really great support and encouragement from both of them. 

I also had Michael, our producing director, and he was just such an incredible mentor for me when I shadowed on his episode, the first episode of the season. I always felt like I could go to people with questions, and I was grateful to have that. Everyone was wonderful.

This episode, in particular, had a lot of callbacks to the first three seasons. What was your reaction when you read the script?

Darkness Falls Again - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9

I just thought it was sort of serendipitous in a way that I had this episode that did have so many callbacks to previous episodes and also the original groups that we first are introduced to you as an audience and having the episode be called Ofelia, and having these moments with Luciana and Daniel, it felt like it was a story that I knew I could tell well.

I knew these characters like the back of my hand. I had the trust of Ruben and Danay, who were just so utterly prepared and excited to be part of this. So it felt like a really special episode to be a part of it. And it was something that, in a way, was suspicious in its timing too. And it wasn't planned that way either.

It must have felt surreal to arrive on the set and not have to get into character. What was that like?

Oh my gosh. It was crazy. It was so funny. Actually, there was a point where I remember it was surreal. I was very, very thrilled. You have you come in at a different time. You're focused on completely different things. You have kind of this shifted perspective. It's like I kept saying to people, it was like, I took the blue pill in The Matrix, and I suddenly saw a whole different universe and part of the world that I didn't know existed in that same way because time moves in a very different way.

Darkness Falls - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9

You have to coordinate and delegate different things. It's juggling so many things at the same time. 

There was one day on set when it got cold. We didn't have long pants on or something like that, and I remember thinking like, "oh my gosh, like if only there were some like jeans I could wear."

Wardrobe came up to me, and they're like, "well, actually, we do have some jeans because you do work on this show, and we do have your wardrobe." And I was like, "actually, that would be really great." So at one point, I did end up delving back into my acting wardrobe, which was quite funny.

Did you know from the beginning of your acting career that you were interested in directing, or did you catch the directing bug while acting?

I've kind of always wanted to direct since I was a kid. I think my personality type is actually quite suited to directing. I've always felt that I've been thinking in my own head about how I would do things or what I would change, or how I would see things. I think in my worldview, often I frame it in a particular storytelling way, and I've known that since I was quite young. 

Finding Answers - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 9

I directed a short film in film class in high school, and I was like, "I love doing this." And I think I loved it because I did have so much creative control. You have a lot of control within specific parameters. At the same time, one of the things I love about directing is collaboration. You feel like you can really bring everyone in and build something together. And that's what I just loved about it so much.

I've always wanted to do that again. So from that point on, I didn't know when I would get back into it, but once I was on here and saw Lenny and Colman both do it, I was like, "you know what? I got to give myself a chance to see if I can do this too." And now I'm just like, I want to keep at it.

It was a great episode, definitely my favorite of the season.

Wow. That's really lovely to hear. Thank you. I really am lucky. I got such incredible support and encouragement from the entire crew that I've worked with for so many years, and they all just had my back. I'm really lucky that I get to work with so many talented and experienced people.

Questioning the Truth - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 8

It takes a village, and it's a huge collaboration. I'm so happy to hear that you enjoyed it. It was a fun episode to direct. It was very big when they first gave it to me. I was like, "wow, you can give me a small one?"

Fear the Walking Dead is unlike anything else on TV. It's a post-apocalyptic drama that essentially gives the characters a new sandbox to play in every season. What keeps you coming back every year?

It is a really unique series. Getting that refreshed perspective and new environment to play with is really rare and exciting and keeps you entertained and keeps you guessing.

And I think that's definitely a unique and exciting experience to have. I love that we also keep changing locations. That's something that's always kept it really interesting too. It's rare.

Alicia Accepts Her Fate - Fear the Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 8

I love working with all the people on that show. Everyone is just wonderful to work with, and it's just not just amazing actors, it's great people. That's rare as well, sometimes.

Fear the Walking Dead continues Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Remember, you can watch Fear the Walking Dead online right here via TV Fanatic.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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