The return of The Walking Dead is always an eagerly anticipated event and this year is no different.
While many are still coming to terms with that first episode, one of the other highlights from last season was the introduction of Scottish actress Pollyanna McIntosh as the eccentric Jadis, leader of The Scavangers.
We caught up with Pollyanna to talk all things The Walking Dead and more.
It’s fair to say last season everyone was intrigued by Jadis given how different she is, so what were your first impressions of the character?
You know, it’s funny I only got a couple of pages for the audition and it was that scene where she meets Rick for the first time.
I liked her grandness and there’s a sort of queenliness about her. I thought I could have fun with the way she is slightly patronising towards him and his group. She definitely uses intimidation tactics to keep outsiders on the back foot.
Her language is one of the things that she uses and a lot of people have asked why do they have this language because it isn’t that long since the apocalypse. I keep telling everyone that is a choice and a very effective choice.
I just thought that was really fun to play with. It’s all part of an act that really works for her. I thought that was really interesting.
So in that sense she isn’t too dissimilar to King Ezekiel who also has a sort of alter-ego…?
I think there’s definitely a comparison to be made. Khary Payton and I have been talking about that.
They do it for similar reasons, to keep their communities together and is a survival tactic. But where King Ezekiel wants to make outsiders feel welcome if he approves of them she likes to make them feel uncomfortable until she decides to let them in.
And what was the audition process like for you for the role?
Well, Sharon Bially and Sherry Thomas are just a fantastic pair of casting directors.
They made me feel like I could my best work in the room there, they were very supportive which was fantastic. I know they were casting on a wide scale and they were casting for both men and woman and this role could have gone either way.
I just had a really good time in there.
It was a very fast process. That day I heard that they liked me then the day after that I was told I was one of the favourites. Then the day after that I was told I had the job – it was an incredibly fast experience.
I think that goes to show the confidence everybody that works together on that casting process including the producers have in each other. That is a very encouraging thing for an actor to enter into because a lot of the time there is a lot second guessing going on.
Here there was confidence and that gave me confidence.
What were you most excited about and what was your first day on set like?
I was just excited to be part of something I really, really loved. I hadn’t watched the show before but when I knew I was auditioning I binged the entire series.
I absolutely loved the show and thought ‘wow I get to be part of this thing I really feel has some merit and is exciting and is true entertainment on many levels’.
My first day one set it was, to be honest, quite intimidating. You just really want to do well and do it justice. But I couldn’t have been more welcomed, working with Andy he is a true pro but also a really fun person.
He is very much in the moment and I just thought these are my kind of people, this is where I belong. It was great.
Seeing that junkyard set, my god, they put it together very, very fast. And yet the skill in that is just unbelievable – it’s a real bunch of artists working on that show.
As a kid I used to look at junkyards and think I could really live there so I can really relate to Jadis’ plan [laughs].
Were you equally as devastated as fans at the death of Glenn and Abraham and which characters would you like to bring back if you could?
It really speaks to the show at how much people care. I meet fans now and they tell me they still haven’t gotten over Glenn’s death.
It was absolutely shocking, very visceral stuff. I absolutely loved Glenn, he was just a sparky guy and you just wanted him and Maggie to be happy. So, yeah, damn you Negan! It really upped that hatred of him.
Of course I would like to bring Glenn back. It would be a shame to bring Abraham back now without his Sasha.
I would like to have saved Bob – it was such a horrible way to go. But also Hershel – Scott Wilson is one of my favourite actors. We actually go back a long way from life in L.A so that was a beautiful reunion to hang out with him at conventions and stuff.
When you first met your fellow cast on set was there an initiation of any kind?
[Laughs] When I first met Norman I have some funny stuff to say…actually I can’t say anything.
We got on the same page quick. He is a really fun person. He smells of freedom, Norman is completely his own man. I just love how close he is with Andy. He came down to set on one of my first days just to watch stuff.
That just showed me just how much he is invested in the show.
He is a rock ‘n’ guy so he’s my kind of guy. I hope to be pranked by him [laughs].
The Scavengers have a relatively short lifespan in the graphic novels but that looks to be different on the show – so will we see them beyond season 8?
God, I hope so. I really hope so. But on this show you never know when you are going to be killed off. You don’t want to see Scott Gimple call you up unless you’ve got a scheduled call because it could come at any time.
I respect that. That’s what audiences’ expect. I am ready to go when they are ready to kill me.
What are your thoughts on the announcement of a crossover between The Walking Dead and Fear The Walking Dead? Were you surprised by it?
I was shocked to be honest. I thought it was all rumour and a lot of nonsense. It was only when Khary posted about it I realised it was actually true.
I’ve since discovered what the actual story is and I get to hold that secret! [laughs].
But it’s exciting, it’s very cool – the choice is very cool.
So do you think it is a natural progression for both shows?
I think it makes sense because Fear really was about the start of the apocalypse but you can’t have the start of the apocalypse going on too long because you get into The Walking Dead territory.
They are entirely different shows yet they are travelling in the same world. Most Fear fans are fans from The Walking Dead so I think a crossover is actually a beautiful payoff for those who want just as much of this world as they can get.
I think if it’s done right and I’ve been guaranteed it will be because Scott Gimple is leading the charge on both and he’s not done us wrong so far.
I think it’s really cool. It’s gonna make me have to watch all of Fear The Walking Dead as well so I’ve got a lot of work now!
One of your first films was Irvine Welsh’s The Acid House – what was that whole experience like and what did you learn from it?
I learnt that I’ll do anything to play a great character in a film. I think I paid my own train fare to get up to Scotland for it because I was living in London at the time [laughs]. I think that cost me more than what the actual job paid me!
I got to see how film can be made kind of in a gorilla way. We were shooting in a real squat in Glasgow. The guy I was playing opposite to was actually pulled out of a burning car drinking whisky out of an old Irn-Bru bottle.
The actor that was kind of the psycho in it had some background in being a psycho.
So that was kind of amazing because it was at that time they were casting real people in stuff. It was incredible but it was some risky film-making and I was impressed by that to be honest.
Michelle Gomez who was in it, I saw her go through those emotions for real and be comforted by the director afterwards.
I saw her just go hell for leather with it and that kind of shaped me as an actress to say there’s no limits and there should be no shame or embarrassment in really feeling those feelings and going for it.
That actually set me up a lot and taught me a lot.
The Walking Dead returns Monday 23rd October at 9pm on FOX