Exclusive interview with IronE Singleton

February, 2014 | In February we had the pleasure of meeting IronE Singleton for an interview at the "The Walking Dead" convention InfeCtiON. IronE plays T-Dog on the AMC zombie hit show and he was so nice to take the time for a roundtable interview with us, Cross Cult and micomics to give a little insight to his work on the show, what he enjoyed and misses most and he also talked very passionately about his remarkable life story.

Foto: IronE Singleton, InfeCtiON - Copyright: myFanbase/Nicole Oebel
IronE Singleton, InfeCtiON
© myFanbase/Nicole Oebel

Note: © myFanbase 2014 - The interview is exclusive to myFanbase and may not be published on other websites or the like. You may share the first two questions (up to 180 words) if you link back to this site. Translations other than English and German may be posted with full credit including the writer's name and link to this site.

myFanbase: With "The Walking Dead" being the biggest cable series ever ratings-wise, what do you think are the most important ingredients in the show's formula for success?

I would have to say its relevance. People being able to relate to something that they go through on a daily basis and that's struggle, that's hardship, that's pain, that's sacrifice, everything that we deal with in this life but it's to a more extreme form and I think that's why people tune in. It's symbolic of the lives that we live. And people tune into show connect to the character that is most like them so it would have to be that. It would sometimes have to be the gruesome violence and you know people love zombies, that adrenaline rush you get from seeing zombies chase human beings, right? You get some type of adrenaline rush from that and those are some of the reasons among many reasons but those are the ones I can think of right now.

micomics: Did you know the comics before the show?

No, I'm sorry, Robert Kirkman, I did not shamefully. As a child I was traumatized by horror movies and stuff like that so that was never my thing. So I never really got into it. It's ironically enough that "The Walking Dead" is my favorite show. It's the best show on television today. So go figure, someone who was traumatized as a kid from watching horror movies has a horror show that is his favorite right now [laughs].

Cross Cult: Do you miss being on the show and what will you remember most from your time of filming?

The relationships. The bonding that I had, that stands out first. And going there every day and getting the handshakes, the hugs and the kisses – that's priceless, that's the stuff that lives with you forever. And it takes me back to season 1 when it was like it was just another job. We never thought we were creating something so special, so great, and now four seasons later to have been a part of something so great as "The Walking Dead" you tend to relish those relationships and memories more. That's first and foremost, that's what I miss. And not just the cast though it was wardrobe and it was makeup and it was catering, everybody… going in there every day seeing those smiling faces just kind of made things complete for me. Like a dream come true.

Foto: IronE Singleton, InfeCtiON - Copyright: myFanbase/Nicole Oebel
IronE Singleton, InfeCtiON
© myFanbase/Nicole Oebel

myFanbase: In the beginning fans were quite skeptical with T-Dog but do you think in the end he was a hero?

[laughs] Yeah I remember those days. "Who is…? This is not Tyreese! This guy can't take Tyreese's part!" I remember all of that stuff but I think T-Dog grew on everyone and then all of a sudden those comments started to change from "Oh my god" to "T-Dog is so awesome, he's fantastic" so it felt good to see those comments. And for him to go out a hero it couldn't have been any better than that. As a child I watched a lot of TV through the 80s I probably watched every show on TV, the TV kind of raised me, and I would always watch the movies where there's the hero at the end and I always envisioned myself being - whether in real life or on TV or in the movies – being the hero. And so early on in my Hollywood career I got the opportunity to be a hero in the biggest television show in basic cable history. How amazing is that? So that should tell you exactly how I feel about that.

Cross Cult asked about IronE's approach to portraying T-Dog as he was not in the comics.

Having the template would have given me less homework to do in my characterization but this is what we prepare for as actors. Having a clean slate just allowed me to do what I do best and that's do my homework and prepare a character that the people can relate to. A character that hopefully the people will like. You know at the heart of every character that I play I wanna make sure that this character is full of humanity so that's my job whether I play a serial killer or the nicest person on earth. I just want that character to be true at core so it doesn't matter whether I have a clean slate or a template to go by.

myFanbase: Do you consider one certain scene as the most important in T-Dog's development?

Probably that roof top scene. I think people instantly became a fan of T-Dog when T-Dog decided to go back on that roof top to save somebody that was so mean and nasty to him. He looked beyond all of that and said "But what is the right thing to do? What do I want for my karma? Just because he did it to me doesn't mean I should do it back to him." T-Dog espouses the adage "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And I think when people saw that he looked beyond all of that mess and said let me go back, they said "Wow, I love T-Dog!" So I think that kinda took T-Dog on the map as a good guy. That was good for the character …and me [laughs].

myFanbase: If the show were to kill off Rick who's got the potential to be a leader in your opinion?

Daryl! Of course Daryl! He's come a long way, he's come around, he's changed so much, and think about it you kinda see Daryl being more rational than Carol in a sense. Carol is burning bodies these days. It's the apocalypse. Everybody has got the potential to change and I think Daryl has displayed that probably more than anybody else.

myFanbase: And a little further along the lines, what do you think about Carl? He's adapting to this world in a different way because he never experienced being a grown-up in the world as it used to be.

Wow, yeah, it very possible for any of them to just adapt, that's what we as humans do, survival of the fittest, adaptation, and Darwin stated it best, you know, so it's a matter of who will decide to step and seize the moment. I use Michael Jordan for instance who got kicked off of his basketball team and he ends up being one of the greatest basketball players of all time. So the potential for leadership in everybody and I think that is part of our destiny, too, to be a leader. It just takes courage, overcoming your fears. That's what courage is, it's not the absence of fears but overcoming those fears to do something extraordinary under those circumstances. It can be anybody.

Foto: Robert 'IronE' Singleton, The Walking Dead - Copyright: Matthew Welch/AMC
Robert 'IronE' Singleton, The Walking Dead
© Matthew Welch/AMC

micomics asked him to talk a little about his book.

I think that idea started from birth. I think from day one as a human being we all come here for a reason and everyone has a destiny and I look at it as a tree with several branches. A lot of times we can veer off that course but we ultimately get back to that destiny and I think that it was god's intention for me to one day write this book. Entitled "Blindsided by the walking dead" it details my life growing up in a housing project and where violence ran ramping and sexual promiscuity was a an average day. It was just part of my world, I ran the streets, I carried a pistol, my father wasn't around, I didn't have a relationship with him, my mother died when I was 18, she was 36 and she died from HIV related illnesses and she was an alcoholic and a crack addict. So I made it through all of that and I ended up playing football at the University of Georgia and I just absolutely admired Georgia because of their program. It was like all of my dreams were coming true and I became an actor, ended up in the biggest sports movie, "The Blindside", and within a year ended up in the biggest television show in basic cable history. It was like if I die right now my world would be complete. But since I have more time here why not write a book and I've dedicated my life to telling my story because I feel in the past it has inspired people and I think that it has the ability to inspire more people. Given the platform where there's a stage play or a book and I think that it could have the biggest impact through a movie because a lot of people don't read. Especially people that come from where I come from. I hardly ever read anything as a teenager so I wanna get the story out through as many outlets as I possibly can. I think it would be an injustice to society and to god to not tell that story so it was inevitable. I just had to do it. I have to tell my story wherever I go even people get tired of hearing and may fall asleep [laughs]. Who knows who my story might touch so that it might change their lives for the better.

myFanbase: Can you talk a little bit about your show which is also called "Blindsided by the walking dead"?

Yeah, it's like my book. It details my life story and I play 18 different characters, a play everybody from a street thug to an English man, an Asian, I play god, I play my own deceased mother, I pay homage to Ghandi, to Dr. King, it about so many different things, I bring all these elements together to convey one theme and that's the theme of truth and love and in order for anything to work out in this life ultimately we have to embrace those elements of truth and love. That's the message in the show and I tell it through my life story and this journey that I've been on and how I've come to embrace that how great things have happened for me and continue to happen for me because of that.

Thank you so much, IronE, for taking the time for this interview!

Thank you so much, love you, guys, appreciated! God bless!

Nicole Oebel - myFanbase