Imagine any of the following: threatened by a racist redneck, being mortally wounded while running away from flesh eating zombies, almost dying of infection and having to kill a little girl that you had been looking for. Now imagine this happened to just one person in the span of a very short period and you have an idea what it is like to be T-Dog (played by IronE Singleton), one of the surviving members of the crew lead by Sheriff Rick on AMC’s Hit series The Walking Dead.
TV Equals had a chance to chat with the very gracious IronE Singleton about being T-Dog, the upcoming episodes, whether his character would survive and which surprising TV series he would like to guest star in. Check out what he had to say below and don’t forget to tune to watch the newest episode of The Walking Dead “Nebraska” which airs tonight Sunday February 12 at 9/8c.
‘The Walking Dead’ is coming back to Sundays. Viewers are really excited. What can we expect in the coming episodes?
IronE Singleton: They should be excited, to say the least. The good thing is that it’s going to get even crazier. I don’t know how you can imagine that, but you can’t imagine it. You can’t fathom it. Your worst nightmare, it’s going to be worse than that, and it’s going to be full of excitement. A lot of action and a lot of stuff that you won’t see coming like when Sophia coming out of the barn.
A lot of people didn’t expect that. They said, ‘Yeah, I think she’d dead. She didn’t make it,’ but they didn’t expect her to walk out of there as a zombie. But we’re going to have more moments like that, a lot of moral questions that we’re going to have to deal with even at another level. We’ve been doing that since season one and we’re going to have to do that even more. These decisions are going to get tougher and tougher making you ask: What would you do?
How will your character fit into things after the whole barn massacre?
IronE Singleton: T-Dog is going to fit in the way that the rest of them fit in. Wherever they go, T-Dog is going. Whatever they do, T-Dog is doing to survive. Whatever it takes to survive. T-Dog is just basically on this journey of survival, doing whatever needs to be done to help out with that that survival, serving as an integral part. Wherever he can help out, that’s what he’s willing to do.
He’s somewhat of an unknown quantity in the sense that we don’t know his back story. Will that change in the coming episodes?
IronE Singleton: If he stays alive, then you can count on that.
You’re not guaranteeing that?
IronE Singleton: No. I can’t guarantee anything, unfortunately, but if he stays alive then you can count on some back story on T-Dog. But you have to tune in to find out.
As an actor, when you’re taking on a character do you need to know everything there is to know about him, or just as much as you need for the upcoming episode?
IronE Singleton: You basically build a foundation for that character. In college we called it a character river or as you may say a back story. Most people know it as a back story. You have to develop that. The idea as an actor is that you want to know everything about that character, like what he likes for breakfast, what’s his favorite food to where’s his favorite place to visit. You want to know all of that stuff, but if you’ve been acting for a long time then you tend to build a repertoire and what you can do is just grab from previous characters that you’ve played. This is what I do.
Everybody has their own philosophy, but I grab from previous characters that I’ve played. For the most part I take a character back and I use my life as a foundation. I take that character back as far as I can in my life and then bring that character all the way up, as far as I can bring that character, to the point where it makes sense to the audience. Then I branch off if it stops making sense. So, that’s ideally what you want, to be able to know everything about that character. Sometimes you may not have that opportunity, and so then you just do the best that you can with it.
And with the story itself, do you want to know just the items that your character would logically know or do you want to know what’s going to happen in the world, even things that are not directly related to your character?
IronE Singleton: I like to know everything. Sometimes a lot of actors don’t want to know that because they say that it helps with their reaction, that it makes it more honest. That’s how they feel about it, but my philosophy is that I want to know it all. That’s why we act and that’s why we trained as actors and continue to train because we can still make it honest, even if we know everything that’s going to happen. It’s our job to make it as real as possible and believable. We have to convey that to our audience, make it as believable as possible. I like to know everything up front, but sometimes I can go without knowing.
Do you ask the writers what’s going to happen?
IronE Singleton: Right, and you know what, the writing is so great that I want to read it as a fan. I’m a fan of the show. I’ll probably sit here and watch the marathon coming up Saturday before the premiere, but Saturday at 8PM season one will be shown and then Sunday, starting at 1:30PM, I think, before the premiere they’re going to show season two all the way up through the midseason premiere. So, I’ll probably sit here, have my popcorn and watch every single episode because I’m in love with the show like that. So, it depends on the script. If it’s not a good script, or if it’s like, ‘I don’t care to know. I’m just going to do my character work and shoot this and I’m out of here,’ but for the ‘Walking Dead,’ you touched on something with that, I want to read everything. It’s that good.
How has it been interacting with fans?
IronE Singleton: Wow. Fan interaction. Words can’t even describe how enthusiastic people are about this thing and there are so many different ‘Walking Dead’ fan groups. Team Shane and Team Ricks and T-Dogs and teams this and that. It’s really insane. It’s phenomenal. This is a phenomenon, what I’m experiencing. The enthusiasm is overwhelming in a great way, in a positive way.
Let’s say that you were king for a day and you could tell the writers what you wanted to happen with your character what would you want for him?
IronE Singleton: For one I want them to kind of reflect on T-Dog’s spirituality, and I guess that’s because that’s what I am and that’s what I’m about, that’s the journey that I’ve been on for quite some time now. I think I want them to delve into that because it could possibly give others to go inside of themselves and reflect on their spiritual journey. I think that’s what I’d be more interested in exploring, spiritual exploration.
Do you have any other upcoming projects?
IronE Singleton: Next month I have a project with Nicolas Cage and Guy Pearce and January Jones coming out called ‘Seeking Justice.’ That opens March 16th. I think that’s the release date. Now I’m in Toronto right now working with Neve Campbell on a project called ‘Sworn To Silence.’ I’ve been here for the past month, I guess, and I have a few more weeks here, a couple more weeks at least. I play an officer by the name of Rupert Nichols. ‘Sworn To Silence’ is based on a bestselling novel by Linda Castillo. I play a fifteen year Army Ranger, a veteran, and we’re on the hunt for a serial killer, trying to track him down before he takes down an entire Amish community.
If you could guest star on any other TV show, which one would it be?
IronE Singleton: I’m already on the show I want so how can I guest star on it.
You’d be surprised how many other actors say ‘Walking Dead.’ I think it’s about fifty percent of the answers now are ‘The Walking Dead.’ Everyone wants to guest star on it.
IronE Singleton: See. I’m telling you, this is my pick. I’m a channel surfer. I just surf through channels, but this is one of the only show that I can just sit and watch. I also watched that new show that came out. ‘Smash’ with Debra Messing, and I liked that show. It was the first episode, but I thought it was a pretty cool show. But the ‘Walking Dead’ is at the top of my list and nothing else comes close to it.
‘The Walking Dead’ is your pick.
IronE Singleton: That’s it. Check this out, if T-Dog dies then I’ll want to comeback as a guest star on the show. How about that? So, that’s it. That’s my pick, ‘The Walking Dead.’