Colman Domingo Teases Return of Old Strand on 'Fear TWD': 'He Can Shapeshift'

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Q&A
Ryan Green/AMC

It's true — fans are forced to wait longer than usual to see their favorite characters show up during Fear The Walking Dead's anthology-esque Season 6, but thankfully, they won't have to wait too long to see smooth-talking Victor Strand (Colman Domingo).

In October 18's "Welcome to the Club," which was directed by castmate Lennie James (who plays the impossible-to-kill Morgan Jones) we'll see where Strand and Alicia Clark (Alycia Debnam-Carey) wound up after baddie Virginia (Colby Minifie) and her Pioneers split the hopeful group of heroes up in the Season 5 ender — and how these two, in particular, managed to stick together. In this week's episode, they'll team up to handle a sticky situation for Virginia — and butt heads on the best way to tackle the issue at hand.

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In 'Welcome to the Club,' a group of Virginia's prisoners are caught in a super sticky situation.

From the AMC zombie drama's set in February, outside of Austin, Texas, Domingo sat down with TV Insider, while wearing the grungy blue jumpsuit that is his costume for the bulk of Episode 602. "I don’t think he’ll be in this [costume] for a long time, because he’s a fighter and he’s got goals," Domingo says, while noting Strand will lean into his more devious side this season. "He’s not trusting anybody else now, just himself. His skills have been sort of marginalized for a bit and now he’s back. Hopefully, next time you see me I’ll be in a three-piece suit."

Below, Domingo dishes on the drama to come.

Last we heard from Strand, he wants to fight Virginia from the inside. What's his plan?

Domingo: I believe that he’s in a state to actually try to turn things around by having more agency and use what Virginia has to offer, but make it work for him and the group. He almost has to look to the other side. Strand is very adept at that, very mercurial. He can shapeshift, and be what he needs to be. We haven’t seen those skills in a while, so it’s time for him to get back to those. It’s very much about survival, and he’s a self-made man. We’ll see elements, I think, of Strand from Season 1. He’s going back to the basics. I love that version of Strand. I’m a fan of that version of Strand, and I think we’re getting back to that. But now that we know so much more about him, we’re really getting underneath him. We know where he comes from now. So, it’s not just his pragmatism and having that coldness to him — we understand why.

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James not only stars in the season opener — he steps behind the camera for the second episode, too!

So tell me about this [gestures to costume]. What exactly has Virginia done to him?

Ginny has put him in this wonderful jumpsuit. Although he believes that he’s given Ginny something of value to up his status, [it didn't work]. From the beginning, he’s literally shoveling shit. Literally and figuratively. And now he’s been given a duty to come in and clear out some walkers and it’s a task that’s very hard to do. There are probably hundreds of them. And they need to clear them out because there’s something that she needs in the warehouse. So that’s our task. And he’s like, ‘OK, I’m going to meet her where she is and if I can deliver this. I can gain something from this.’ It’s about finding leverage.

And things go awry, as things do. You know how [this group's] work is — we show up to places, we burn down places. Things don’t work out the way that we usually hope they will. But we’re hopeful. We’re hopeful people! [Laughs]

What do you think is keeping Strand hopeful moving into this season? What’s keeping him on the side of the good guys? I always feel like he could totally flip.

He could totally flip. He’s a character that is really trying to find agency again. I think he even says in this episode that it’s time for him and Alicia to start making the calls themselves. [They've] been listening to other people for way too long. And I think that line is long gone. It’s not only Morgan. Whether he’s listening to John Dorie [Garret Dillahunt] to go and help him at that mansion, or when there was Madison [Kim Dickens]. Everyone has an opinion for them about which way to go, and now he says, it’s time for the two of us to start making our own calls. No more being the B-team. Be the top dog. He knows, deep inside, that he and Alicia are meant to be leaders.

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The stars discuss shooting Episode 602, directed by castmate Lennie James, and more for 'ATX TV... From the Couch!'

And Strand's skills could be particularly useful amongst the Pioneers...

Everyone has great skills, it’s just about what is necessary at the time and what works the best in whatever environment. And I think Strand believes that his way is going to work the best with Virginia. I think there’s something about Virginia that he sees in himself. You can’t con a con man, and you can’t play a player.

It’s very much like a cutthroat corporate vibe with Virginia, in a weird way.

Yeah! I think it’s corporate, but it’s also like Game of Thrones. It’s also House of Cards. It’s very political. If you understand a political environment, you figure, 'how can we rally?' How can you gain a bit of trust and work the system? It’s a clear structure, with Virginia at the top, and she’s got comrades and generals, you name it. So, he’s like ‘Wow, it’s a system. I can work a system. I understand that.’ Whereas when we were building a home, it was like trying to figure things out with sticks and stones, you know? But now, he sees something sensible that he can work with. Like Strand, I believe he works well in a corporate structure.

fear the walking dead season 6 episode 2 welcome to the club virginia colby minifie

Colby Minifie as Virginia- Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 6, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

You've directed Fear twice before [Domingo's third time will be Episode 603], and this is Lennie’s first time directing for TV in this episode. Did you give him any kind of advice going in?

I sat down with him for a lunch and we talked about some things, and I hopefully waylaid any fears. I let him know in particular that you know what you know going into it, and it will always get better. I think any artist who comes in with a generous spirit and is willing to fail, to be honest, and willing to say ‘I don’t know everything and this may go terribly awry,’ with that spirit, things will go very well too because it allows you to be open to your crew, your cast, and not feel like you’ve got to have all of these things together. You’ve got to know how to rally your troops. I think that Lennie, as an actor, knows how to do that. He’s very kind and generous, and that’s what I’ve been seeing out there for the past seven days.

What can you tell me about the episode you direct in Season 6?

I’m directing one of the most phenomenal episodes, and it stars Maggie Grace [Althea] and Austin Amelio [Dwight]. It’s nice to see those two together. It will be a great pairing.

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Is there anything left on your bucket list for Strand after six seasons? What hasn’t he done yet that you’re dying to see/do?

I asked if Strand could fly a plane and then they made that happen, and now I need a new bucket list. Although I thought the plane would go differently. I thought we’d fly to like, you know, Hawaii or the Cayman Islands. Maybe I didn’t finish the thought — they didn’t hear that I’d like to fly to the Bahamas. [Laughs]

We’re investigating Strand speaking Spanish again, and all of the things that he’s got up his sleeves that keeps him a little wily and interesting. But I love the idea that there are more surprises to Strand. If suddenly he speaks German, or if suddenly you find out he used to tap dance. I think it’s interesting that he keeps unfolding and you’re like, ‘Well, what else is Strand made of?’ What’s funny, is Rubén [Blades, who plays Daniel] sang in the show and so did Karen [David, who plays Grace]. But like, I’m a Broadway song and dance man, and you never know if Strand sings and dances!

I know I'm not the first to say this, but I would love a musical episode.

I feel like now we’ve said it so much, it’s got to happen. And it should just happen. It should just be some dark fever dream and then all of a sudden we’re like, ‘Wait, we’re in a musical.’

Fear the Walking Dead, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC