The Walking Dead’s Pollyanna McIntosh talks about how evil Jadis really is as well as the show hitting the 100 episode mark.
PM: Hell Peter, how are you?
PVH: I’m well, Pollyanna, and you?
PM: I’m very well, thank you. I just came from boxing so I feel good.
PVH: Excellent. Did you knock out a heavy bag or a real person?
PM: I have a fabulous trainer who has the pads so I can hit as hard as I want, it’s very fun. (laughs)
PVH: Are you in L.A. just now?
PM: I’m in Atlanta but heading to L.A. in about an hour for the big premiere, I’m so excited.
PVH: That’s going to be a lot of fun.
PM: I’m so looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to doing that special Talking Dead afterward, because I think they’re brilliant with what they do. It’s going to be really fun, this is my kind of coming out a little bit for me.
PVH: Yes, and speaking of that, what’s it like being a part of a show that has reached 100 episodes?
PM: It’s amazing, it’s like (laughs), it’s like a huge joy because not only is it a show that’s achieved a hundred episodes, because it has such a great following and they are committed to making it the best story it can be, but also it’s a show that I really love to watch and I think has great merit. I feel really, really lucky because as an actor you get certain things put in front of you and there’s a bit of luck that I’m on this show and I couldn’t be happier, and they share their success with all of us – the new ones too. I’ve been lucky enough to meet most of the cast from earlier on in the series, for part of making it what it became and what allowed me to connect with it at such an exciting level. So, Lori (Sarah Wayne Calles) for instance, and meeting all those folks and thanking them for what they created is just fantastic, so I really feel the history and the hundredth episode’s mark, although I haven’t been involved for that long, means a lot for me as a fan as well.
PVH: But you’ve been on the show for a while now and you’ve become a great addition to the show.
PM: Oh, thank you!
PVH: You’re welcome. Season 8 promises to be “All Out War” on The Walking Dead beginning with the show’s 100th episode this Sunday. What can fans expect this season?
PM: They can expect to be surprised. They can expect to be excited. It’s an explosive season, and I think the first four episodes are bigger than anything the show’s done before. And as far as my character is concerned, they can expect the unexpected as ever with Miss Jadis. (laughs)
PVH: Excellent. Last season was quite dark and brutal. Will there be some levity thrown in amongst all the warfare this season?
PM: Is there levity to be expected? Yeah, there definitely is. I think the great thing about the show is, character-wise, there’s a lot of tough folks here, but there’s also a lot of love, you know, and that’s what makes the show what it is. I mean, none of this would matter if we really didn’t care about these characters, and I think the families that have been created means so much to us now. So, yeah, when somebody goes, it’s really tough on me as an audience member but its The Walking Dead so you can expect some of that emotion as well. But you weren’t asking about that, you were asking about levity. (laughs) There is a particular line about that Jadis has that I’m looking forward to everyone seeing…a little bit of her humour definitely comes out this season, which is fun. She’s playful when it suits her.
PVH: With Jadis you’re continuing the show’s tradition of strong female characters.
PM: Yeah! That’s one of the things I love too!
PVH: Although she’s thrown her support behind Negan can we truly consider her the show’s first female big baddie?
PM: Is she the show’s first female big baddie? Well, I loved Alicia Witt’s episode (The Same Boat from Season 6) I mean she was pretty formidable and terrifying, wasn’t she? But as far as a leader? Yeah! (laughs) Yeah, it’s really fun to think about that element, I really haven’t thought about that actually that she’s first in that regard. So I’m going to agree with you.
PVH: Well, great minds think alike, don’t they?
PM: (laughs) That’s right, the Canadians and the Brits are connected.
PVH: That’s right. Go Scotland!
PM: Thank you. Go Canada! (laughs)
PVH: Jadis is a leader, she’s the first female big baddie and she’s also quite the dealmaker.
PM: Yeah! It’s something she really enjoys.
PVH: If she had a political slogan would it be “Scavengers first”?
PM: (laughs) I think it would be “We take, we don’t bother.” (laughs) And it’s true, you know? She may have done some harm, but she’d much rather get things done without anyone really knowing about it let alone getting hurt.
PVH: Sometimes it’s best to operate in the shadows.
PM: Yes, exactly. She’s a bit of a shadowy figure and all her folk feel the same way, which is quite fun.
PVH: The other thing I find intriguing about the best villains is they may do villainous things but they never see themselves as villains, and I think we see that with Jadis.
PM: Exactly, I agree with you completely. It’s funny, because it’s very hard to play a villain when they know they are being evil. It’s wearing on the soul. But when you’re playing a villain that doesn’t think of themselves that way, you can have even more fun with it. It’s clear with Jeffrey (Dean Morgan) and his performance as Negan, for instance. That’s fun central that he’s having. (laughs) But I enjoy that and it makes the job fun and there’s none of that soul pain you get when you play villains who know they are evil. Does that make sense?
PVH: Yes. The last thing anyone wants in terms of an audience in viewing or – I would assume, because I am not an actor – as an actor in a role that no one wants to see or portray the moustache twirling villain.
PM: Right. (laughs) That’s true. We’ve got one big moustached villain, which is our Steven (Ogg) playing Simon, so we don’t need another one I think.
PVH: What can fans of The Walking Dead expect to see from Jadis this season?
PM: You might learn a little more about Jadis this season, you might get a little more insight into her story, and you can expect the unexpected really. She’s always going to be on the winning side, that’s for sure, so I’m going to see if I can keep up.
PVH: I’m sure you can.
PVH: You personally, Pollyanna, are a triple threat as a writer, actor and now director.
PM: Yeah, thank you. I’ve got my first full feature that I’m going to direct in December, so I’m very excited about that. Working away on pre-production at the same time, so it’s very interesting being on the other side, especially when casting actors and I’m really enjoying working with a very talented, young actress who I’ve just cast as the lead in my film, and I’m excited, man, it’s going to be great.
PVH: Can you tell us a bit about the feature, or is it under a veil of secrecy?
PM: It’s a genre picture, so it’s a horror movie. I hope to add some weight, I hope to add some width, and I’ll be announcing it next year. It’s unusual and it’s going to be a lot of fun. (laughs)
PVH: Nice. Have your experiences in any of these disciplines made the transition to the others easier?
PM: I think if I hadn’t been an actor I wouldn’t have had all these wonderful experiences on sets, where it’s given me confidence as a director. And I wouldn’t have gotten to work with all these great directors who have, you know, shown me how it’s done. Especially the set politics and how everything works; I was asked to collaborate on giving notes on a script and that’s when I realized I was also a writer. An Irish producer named Conor Barry who took an interest in my writing and said, “Hey, can you send me something?” and he kept me on track with the script I was writing, which was the last script I was writing. And he said, “I just want to help you, I want to hear what you’re doing, I want to see you finish this thing”.
PVH: One more quick question.
PM: Go for it.
PVH: What are some similarities and differences between Jadis and Angel, who you played in Hap and Leonard?
PM: Oh, wow, well Angel is a straight up psychopath. She had a wonderful ability to love Soldier, but she really had no (laughs) – she had no compulsion about slitting someone’s throat, in fact she was always looking forward to it any time she got a chance to. And Jadis is, believe it or not, not as cold in that department as Angel is. But they both dress really well. (laughs) I had about seven weeks to buff out in the gym and eat as much protein and carbs as I could to build muscle really fast for Angel because she needed to be a muscle machine and it was very important to get there, I didn’t have a lot of time. So she was as buff as I could get that fast, and Jadis she’s part of the Scavengers, she’s not as well fed, she doesn’t eat as many steaks as Angel, so I have to stay a little thinner for her. They both have a sense of their own power and confidence in that power, and that’s something that I admire in both of them.
PVH: Were you in a similar headspace moving from Angel to Jadis?
PM: No, it’s a very different headspace, because Jadis is always looking out for the way people reveal their true self, looking out for the way in which they do business and the way in which they do pleasure and everything else. She’s always trying to figure people out, Angel doesn’t care, because Angel doesn’t have to win through subtle manipulation. Angel just picks up her axe and slices you open, she looks forward to that. So it’s a very different mindset and very different thought process these characters are in, and also Angel – I guess the only similarity in the thought process is that Angel can’t lose what she has with Soldier and Jadis can’t lose what she has with her community. So they’re both looking out for the relationships that they hold dearest.
PVH: That makes sense. Do you get a chance to get back to Edinburgh?
PM: I haven’t been back since last August, and I went and spent two weeks in Scotland and then I booked this biker movie called Blood Drive that James Franco is doing, and I had to come straight back after a week, so I’m really looking forward in January going back to Scotland and seeing my family and seeing everyone there. I’ve been speaking to a couple of Scottish journalists over the last couple of days and it really sunk in that there’s a lot of folks back home that will be viewing the show and I’m kind of looking forward to seeing how that feels too.
PVH: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me, I really appreciate it. I wish you great success and I hope we can chat again soon.
PM: Thank you for covering, I really appreciate it too. Send my love to Canada please.