Interview with Andrew J. West

28. Oktober 2014 | Andrew J. West plays Gareth on the thrilling 5th season of AMC's "The Walking Dead". In our exclusive interview he talks about his character, his experiences on set of such an intense show and his interactions with fans.

Foto: Andrew J. West - Copyright: Collin Stark
Andrew J. West
© Collin Stark

1. Your "The Walking Dead" character Gareth is a cannibal and the supposed big bad of the season. But the writers already gave him an emotional backstory and try to reason with his behaviour. What is your take on his motives?

Gareth's motives are rooted in survival. Because of the horrific things that have happened to him and his family he has adopted a calloused and detached viewpoint toward human beings, and he believes that trusting people in this new version of the world is naive. He is ultimately concerned with survival even if it means that others must be sacrificed.

2. Gareth is based on the comic-character Chris from the group of Hunters. How did you approach Gareth? Did you read the comics or just the script? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of having the comic books from your point of view?

I did read the comics but I didn't use them as a research tool. The show has created a very distinct world that is different in many ways from the comic. Having said that, I did become a fan of the comic and it was interesting to become familiar with the source material that inspired a lot of elements in the show. Gareth is partly inspired by Chris, and I love the arc in the comics that deals with Chris and the Hunters. It was exciting to be involved with bringing that section of the comic to life. But it can be detrimental to confuse character motives from the comic with those of the show. Gareth is a more resourceful, bigger-picture guy than Chris was. It's important to keep that straight as an actor playing the role.

3. As Martin once told Tyreese: "I don't have any friends. I mean, I know people. They're just assholes I stay alive with." - what do you think keeps Gareth's group together?

Gareth is a strong leader with an unwavering philosophy on how best to survive. I think that the members of his group are desperate to survive no matter the cost, and Gareth's confidence inspires confidence in them. That mutual confidence and hope is what keeps them together.

4.The last scene in #5.02 Strangers between Bob and Gareth is a typical one for the series in that it shows the depths of humanity. For viewers, who haven't read the comics, it was very surprising and particularly shocking. What do you remember from working on that scene?

The imagery of the comic book panels that inspired a lot of the shots in 5:02 is remarkable. I was very familiar with the panels from the comic, and while we were shooting I was getting a sense of how great the shots were going to look. I was looking directly into camera for Bob's POV shot and that shot is inspired by one of the first panels in which we see Chris in the comic. I was so excited to see the scene and I think that David Boyd and the crew did an amazing job. It was an eerie scene to shoot, and the context of the scene perfectly sets up the depravity that the viewers are about to witness. It was an intense night.

5. How can we picture life on set of "The Walking Dead"? Since it is such a dark show, how do you balance this between the takes?

When the actors are getting ready to go into a scene, the vibe on set can be very serious and heavy; it needs to be. An atmosphere is created on set that allows the actors to shed any sense of self-consciousness and do what they need to do to prepare for a scene. But when the scene comes to an end and everyone is happy with the work, that heavy cloak is lifted and it becomes very friendly and joyful. The cast and crew are tight-knit and that goes a long way in developing a comfortable short-hand that allows individual and group moods to shift quickly.

Foto: Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Chris Coy & Andrew J. West, The Walking Dead - Copyright: Gene Page/AMC
Lawrence Gilliard Jr., Chris Coy & Andrew J. West, The Walking Dead
© Gene Page/AMC

6. What would you do if you had to face the threats of the post-apocalyptic world like the people on "The Walking Dead"?

I'd find the nearest version of Tyreese and stay behind him.

7. What was your most memorable moment on set so far?

When we finished shooting the 'a man's gotta eat' scene, all of us Terminans and Lawrence had a quick group hug/huddle. It was a nice celebratory moment that was needed after having completed such an intense scene.

8. Conventions are just one way to interact with fans. Have you already been to one or are you going to? And since "The Walking Dead" has a strong fanbase, what kind of experiences have you made with fans so far?

I just recently went to my first convention and I do have a few Wizard World conventions lined up in the near future. The interactions with fans have been extremely positive so far. I was a little nervous about how fans would react after my character does something so horrible to a well-loved character such as Bob, but the fans have been very supportive. Gareth is a well-written and well-designed character, and I think the fans appreciate the intrigue that he brings. I've received some fan art which I love. It's great to see so much support for this character.

9. If your character Gareth could be a part of any other tv show, which do you think he would fit in best and why?

I thought it was interesting that Scott Gimple compared Gareth to someone from "The Office" when we see him in the beginning of the premiere episode. Could you imagine Gareth on "The Office"? That would make an interesting episode.

10. When we spoke last you were playing Fisher on ABC Family's "Greek" which was a very light and feel good show. Now you're on AMC's "The Walking Dead". Aside from the diffrent tone of these two shows, what are the differences in the working process?

Totally different worlds. TWD has that feeling of being off at camp, staying dirty and running around in unfamiliar woods. In many ways it feels more like shooting a movie. Greek was a more typical TV job in that I drove to the studio every day (stayed pretty clean) and drove home to my own comfortable and familiar surroundings. They are totally different and fulfilling in different ways.

11. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about tv shows, we would like to know what your favorite shows are?

I've really enjoyed "Tim and Eric's Bedtime Stories". It's so weird and great. I recently starting watching "The Knick" and I love it so far. "Breaking Bad" was special. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" is a show that I can put on any time and enjoy each episode over and over again.

Thank you for making time for us, Andrew, we wish you all the best for your future!

Annika Leichner & Melanie Wolff - myFanbase

Hinweis: © 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 link to this site.