‘TWD’ Star Ross Marquand Talks the Limits of Aaron’s Forgiving Nature and Working With Robert Patrick

the walking dead one more ross marquand aaron
Q&A
Josh Stringer/AMC
Josh Stringer/AMC

[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 episode 19, “One More.”]

Is there a nicer guy in TWD’s post-apocalyptic world than Aaron, played by Ross Marquand? We certainly don’t think so. It seems he’s willing to forgive just about anything…including being forced to put loaded a gun to his head and almost pull the trigger.

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But to hear Marquand tell it, his character is slowly learning how to balance his nurturing nature with, as he put it, “being a hardass.” TV Insider chatted with Marquand about how Aaron maintains his faith in people, what it was like to work with Robert Patrick, and more.

Aaron’s ability to forgive is so admirable. He’s even willing to forgive Mays after Mays tortured him.

The thing with Aaron is that he prides himself on seeing how good people are and giving them a chance. Sometimes people don’t work out. Like in Season 6, there’s a heartbreaking moment where Aaron finds the three people he cast out because they were dangerous. And he walked them out of the community via the sewers and gave them his knife It’s like, “Hey, I’m not going to leave you out here with nothing.” And of course, they were coming back there to kill him or other people. Even then, he still forgives them.

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Josh Stringer/AMC

That’s why I believe he really would’ve brought Mays back. He might not have fit in or assimilated, I think Aaron realizes this is a broken man, not an inherently evil man. Or at least in that moment, he thinks that! [Laughs]What was it like working with Robert Patrick?

I can’t say enough good things about him. He’s every bit as good of an actor as you think he is, but the biggest surprise for me was how sweet he was. He’s a really kind, courteous, and professional guy, and I’m sorry we killed him off so quickly because I would love to work with him again.

This was one of the most nerve-wracking episodes of the show. Were you getting nervous reading the script with Aaron putting a gun to his head again and again?

Oh, yeah! They don’t really tell us what’s going to happen before we read the scripts, so as I’m reading it, I’m going, “Oh, wow, am I dying here?” And I was a little buoyed by the fact that these were bridge episodes, and I had been working on a contract for Season 11. So I was like, “I don’t think I’m going to die,” but there was a part of me that thought this could be the end.

What was going through Aaron’s head when the round clicked into the chamber? Did he ever seriously consider shooting Gabriel so he could get back to his daughter?

No, he considered shooting Mays. That was something I talked to Laura, our director, about. I said, “If he points that gun away from me for even a moment, I am going to shoot him. End of story.” It’s not until he loosens the restraints on Aaron that he believes Mays is a good person. I think if he pointed that gun away for any amount of time, it would be over. Aaron would shoot.

In the past, Aaron had said he was sick of being the nice guy. Where does he stand on that now?

That’s a great question. When I read that, I read it as, “I’m sick of being pushed around by people who have been proven to be our enemies.” He has been beaten up by every community he’s come in contact with. He was beaten up by Rick, he was beaten up by the Oceansiders, he was beaten up by the trash people, he’s been beaten up the Saviors. He’s always fallen down and taken it because he can’t fight back in those moments. It’s not that he doesn’t want to fight back. He wants to give people a chance.

the walking dead one more ross marquand aaron

Josh Stringer/AMC

But I do think there’s going to be a hybrid. He will be fair and honest and kind initially, but if you cross him, he will not hesitate. That’s what exciting about the character — he’s finally getting the idea that you can be kind and nice, but also be a bit of a hardass.

Early in the episode, we see bodies of people who died together, and it looks like they were parents and a child. Gabriel shrugs it off, but it has an effect on Aaron. Why?

I think in that moment, Aaron is seeing his own mortality and saying, “Wow, will I be able to leave this world in a safe enough place for Gracie?” If he can’t do that, he will have failed as a father. He’s keenly aware that he has a limited amount of time on this Earth, so his goal is to leave Alexandria safe and rebuild it so it’s not so vulnerable to threats moving forward. If he can do that, I think he can die peacefully.

This episode, we saw Gabe and Aaron searching high and low for food. At this point, would Aaron willingly eat applesauce?

[Laughs] Yeah! I never understood that. I have actually met people who’ve told me they hate applesauce, too, but initially I was like, “Who hates applesauce?” I’d never heard of anyone hating applesauce. But yeah, I think he’s desperate enough at this point where he would have.

The Walking Dead Season 10, Sundays, 9/8c, AMC