‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Cast, EPs Tease Kim Dickens’ Return

‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Cast, EPs Tease Kim Dickens’ Return



Back in December, AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead did the plot equivalent of dropping a bomb: after seemingly dying in the show’s fourth season, they announced that Kim Dickens is returning as Madison Clark in the second half of Season 7. And according to the showrunners, that was a secret they’ve been sitting on for over a year.

“It is something that we had been working on for a long time,” co-showrunner Andrew Chambliss told Decider. “It was something that we had figured out on the narrative side, but it was a lot to figure out on the business side, the logistical side. And that’s something that was in the works for well over a year. It’s a secret that we’ve been sitting on for a long time.”

For those with foggy memories, Madison Clark was the ostensible star of the series up until Season 4, when her fate was slowly rolled out through a series of flashbacks. After building up a community in a baseball stadium, it all came crashing down. In order to save the lives of her group — and her children — Madison lured a herd of the undead into the stadium. She was surrounded, the stadium was set on fire, and fans lost their minds. And since then, despite the seemingly dire circumstances, viewers have been desperately asking when Dickens would return to the show.

The first step, it turned out, wasn’t even with the showrunners… It was up to Colman Domingo, who plays the currently villainous Strand on the series, to reach out to his good friend and see if she might even be interested in returning.

“The initial conversations came from the showrunners asking ‘do you think it’s a possibility that Kim would entertain coming back?’” Domingo recalled. “And I said, ‘I don’t know but I think that she would come back if the work was challenging, if it’s something that really lives and breathes in her…’ So as long as it was artistically sound, and Kim is one of my best friends, I know that she’d be down with that. It took some great conversations from colleague to colleague, friend to friend and I advocated for both sides. I knew it’d be good for the show and I knew it’d be good for her.”

After that, Chambliss and his co-showrunner Ian Goldberg set up a follow-up call with Dickens were they laid out the full story they wanted to tell, and why they felt it was time to bring her back. Though the exact circumstances of her return are under wraps, a teaser for the new episodes showed Madison having a hard time breathing, and being interrogated by a mysterious voice.

Still, Goldberg was able to add that she has been on “quite a journey” from where she was in the middle of Season 4, to where we re-meet her in Season 7. “She’s not the same woman,” Goldberg noted. “And what’s really exciting about that is getting to chart that journey and getting to see her interact with some characters that we have not seen her interact with before that have entered the show since that episode in season 4 when Madison exited.”

And naturally, adding this major character back will reverberate with every aspect of the show, particularly with Alycia Debnam-Carey’s character, Alicia, Madison’s daughter. After finally returning to the series after a long absence in the mid-season finale, Alicia is down an arm, but with a new sense of purpose as the leader she’s always been destined to become. Having her mother in the mix will throw that all into flux; but for Debnam-Carey, it was just a thrill to have Dickens back on set.

“It was such a shock and a surprise when I found out,” Debnam-Carey said. “Because it wasn’t something any of us knew about in the last couple of seasons. That was something the writers had been holding onto and we definitely didn’t know about. And so when I found out from Kim, I was just so excited for her and so excited then for the fans. Because I know she’s been so sorely missed, and she is so incredible… For all the characters it’s completely new, a new set of rules.”

Omid Abtahi, who plays new character Howard, and hadn’t previously been on the show with Dickens — his character was introduced late in Season 6 — recalled that her return, “felt like Santa Claus was coming to town on set. There were just people who were very, very excited about it and I was just watching it as this spectator, the excitement was palpable.”

It was an even bigger present for another actor who hasn’t had the chance to work with Dickens before: Lennie James, who has played Morgan Jones on both Fear and The Walking Dead. Despite first being introduced on Fear in Season 4, James and Dickens never crossed paths. Morgan was part of a storyline that took place well after the fire at the stadium, while Madison was relegated to flashback scenes. Meaning that Season 7 marks the first time Morgan and Madison will actually share the screen.

“Right from the beginning, part of the attraction of coming over to Fear all those years ago was working with Kim,” James said. “So not having that opportunity was a bit of a bucket list tick I wasn’t able to do. Having the opportunity to do that has been fulfilling an ambition, it’s been absolutely fantastic, and I’ve loved every minute of it.”

Despite all the joy Dickens is bringing, as usual with the franchise, don’t expect Madison’s return to be without significant problems for our post-apocalyptic survivors. Chambliss teased that while Madison won’t upset the apple cart, she will, “shuffle the apples in the carts, in interesting ways.”

And in particular, throwing Madison into the mix means big things for the main trio of Morgan, Strand and Alicia. Domingo noted that Madison, who has previously been the person to call out Strand for going to far, will change the current conflict between Morgan and Strand to one where he flip-flips between the two.

“You have a lot of strong-willed, strong-minded characters all going for broke in what they believe, and perceive the way the world must be, and operate,” Domingo said.

Those strong-minded characters include Alicia, who has “four powerful directions” to follow according to James, including her own. “She could follow the ideology of her mom, follow the ideology of Strand, follow the ideology of Morgan, or come up with one that is from her,” James continued. “To a great or lesser extent a large part of the journey of the second half of Season 7 is about Alicia finding her path.”

So now that Kim Dickens is finally returning, fans can put to rest the question they’ve been asking for three seasons. Chambliss said he was “extremely” relieved the news was out there, adding that, “I have a feeling we’re gonna keep getting the question until the episode which she returns airs.”

All this means, though, is that fans can start asking about the return of another beloved character: Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis), Madison’s husband who got shot in the stomach and fell out of a helicopter back at the beginning of Season 3. When asked whether Travis would be coming back, too, Goldberg, laughing said, “I think we have to figure out how much damage his legs sustained in the fall, and how long it would take a walker to crawl across the desert to reach Texas or possibly Georgia.”

…so they’re saying there’s a chance? Stay tuned, Travis-heads.

Fear the Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, April 17 at 9/8c. The first two episodes will also premiere that day on AMC+.

Where to watch Fear the Walking Dead



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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