The following interview contains spoilers for 11.13
In last week’s episode of The Walking Dead
, Aaron, played by Ross Marquand, sided with Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) in wanting Alexandria to join the Commonwealth. According to Marquand, Aaron has grown weary of trusting others, but he wants the Commonwealth to work out. “I think he instinctively is very dubious of every new community that he interacts with,” Marquand told SciFi Vision during a recent interview, “but he wants desperately to believe that Lance and the rest of Commonwealth are good people.”
“[P]rotecting all of the survivors that are left is his ultimate and really only goal, I think,” the actor added. “He puts so much of his personal life aside for the sake of others and making sure that everyone's safe and has a chance for the future. So, as much as he wants to believe that Lance is a really good guy, he's certainly on his guard.”
However, even though Aaron moves to the Commonwealth, he doesn’t expect it to be permanent, likening it to visiting a hotel while your home is being fixed. “Commonwealth for him is that hotel that he's going to stay at for a temporary amount of time until his home is rebuilt, and then he's right back there, because Alexandria is his home,” said Marquand.
The actor added that he still doesn’t full trust them. “I don't think he's fully there with Commonwealth. I think he's still a little on the fence as to who they are and what they stand for.”
In tonight’s episode of the series, “Warlords,” Aaron and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) are tasked with helping Toby Carlson (Jason Butler Harner) bring a new community, Riverbend, into the Commonwealth, however, unbeknownst to them, the real reason they are there is to find a missing weapons shipment and the thieves responsible. The two of them don’t know what’s about to go down, but they do sense something is not right pretty early on. So, why does Aaron go along with it? “[H]e's been commissioned,” said Marquand. “I think Mercer (Michael James Shaw) said in an episode recently that everyone's here to play their part, and you might not like it…This is a little lip service and a little bit of tit for tat that he has to do for Hornsby and the Commonwealth in order to get what he wants. So, I think it's partially selfish on his part as well, to make sure that Alexandria is rebuilt.”
Things do not go according to plan, and people die. To learn more about what Aaron’s reaction and next move might be and a lot more, read the full transcript below.
SCIFI VISION: My first question is sort of about the previous episode, but I just wonder if you could talk about if Aaron really trusts Lance Hornsby, or if it's just really about what he thinks the Commonwealth can do, because he's so adamant about doing what he wants and going that direction?
Yeah, I think, honestly, Aaron has grown so dubious of so many people. I think his once trusting view of humans has gone by the wayside, because almost everybody he's trusted, even Rick (Andrew Lincoln) - The very first thing Rick did after he told him the spiel about “I'd like to invite you to this sustainable community that's totally set up and good to go,” Rick comes up and punches him in the face. The Heapsters attack him. The Oceansiders attack him. The Saviors attack him. I mean, he's been beat up and kind of tossed around by so many different communities that I think he instinctively is very dubious of every new community that he interacts with, but he wants desperately to believe that Lance and the rest of Commonwealth are good people. We see it kind of foreshadowed early in the season with this terrible dream that he has about getting killed in front of his daughter, but protecting Gracie (Annabelle Holloway), protecting the rest of the Alexandrians and protecting all of the survivors that are left is his ultimate and really only goal, I think. He puts so much of his personal life aside for the sake of others and making sure that everyone's safe and has a chance for the future. So, as much as he wants to believe that Lance is a really good guy, he's certainly on his guard, I guess, is the best way to put it.
All right, fair enough. So, my other question is, though, is if he's moved into the Commonwealth, why is he still so invested in fixing up Alexandria? Because he seems to right now sort of be the de facto leader of the place since things have changed. So, why is that still important to him? Is it just kind of a backup?
I think as much as, even though he and his daughter may be living in the Commonwealth for now, I think he very much looks at it as like when your house is flooded or there's some sort of fire or something and it's being rebuilt; you go and stay at a hotel. Commonwealth for him is that hotel that he's going to stay at for a temporary amount of time until his home is rebuilt, and then he's right back there, because Alexandria is his home. He's known that place the entirety of the apocalypse, for the most part, and I think he's very keen on making sure that it's rebuilt and that he can move back into his home with his daughter and settle in with the rest of the Alexandrians and rebuild that society again, because that's a community that he knows and he knows that it's full of people that he can trust. I don't think he's fully there with Commonwealth. I think he's still a little on the fence as to who they are and what they stand for. Also, it's a massive community. I mean, it's a huge, vast, vast community that I think he would get lost in a lot of the time, and I think Aaron is more of a quaint, countryside kind of guy. I think he likes things a little bit more small and manageable, and that's the kind of community I think he wants to live in, ultimately, which of course already exists in Alexandria. You made me wonder, though, as you said that; do you think he worries though, that Gracie being in the Commonwealth and seeing all that it has to offer, that it might be hard for her to sort of go back to not having those kinds of things and having to live kind of on the edge, all the time worrying?
Yeah, I mean, that's certainly a possibility. But I would like to think that Gracie would want to go back home as well. But it's a very good point; she may want to stay there, because they have so many members of that community who literally haven't seen a zombie in years. They're just totally ill-informed and unaware of the real dangers outside, because they're so insulated from it. So, you're right. There might be a part of her that just thinks, “Man, this is this is pretty cushy. I don't know if I want I'd go back to the horrors of Alexandria.” But hopefully she would want to come back. We'll see. Yeah, I don't know. I think I'd put up with quite a lot to not have to worry about food and walkers and everything else.
That's a good point. That's a very good point.
So, in this week’s episode, obviously Aaron and Gabriel do not agree with what Carlson wants them to do, to go to this place. Aaron sort of senses that something's not right. Why do you think it is that he goes along with it? Is he worried about getting the Commonwealth people upset? What's kind of the reason why he just kind of goes with it anyway?
Yeah, I think Aaron goes along with it, because he's been commissioned. I mean, I think Mercer says in an episode recently, everyone's here to play their part, and you might not like it, but if you're going to live in the Commonwealth, like you just said, you'd put up with a lot to live in a place of relative safety all the time. So, I think Aaron is realizing, yes, this is kind of a weird thing that they're asking me to do. I don't love it. I'm kind of on the fence, but if this gets my community built up, and we can become autonomous again and not rely on the help of Commonwealth or anyone else, then so be it. This is a little lip service and a little bit of tit for tat that he has to do for for Hornsby and the Commonwealth in order to get what he wants. So, I think it's partially selfish on his part as well, to make sure that Alexandria is rebuilt. Then, I just kind of wanted your opinion on something…The whole thing with the skulls and the way that group they encountered acted and how they brought them in and everything, was that for real, their people? I almost felt like the whole thing was sort of theatrics, that they were trying to scare them when they first came in, because they mentioned how they had been attacked by cannibals and everything.
Yeah, yeah. I certainly think that that could be the case. I think that Michael Biehn's character (Ian) was telling the truth that they were attacked by different marauders and cannibals. But you know, if for no other reason than a scare tactic, yeah.
I mean, think back to the age of Vlad the Impaler, who Dracula was based on. He used to literally put human bodies on spikes all around the palace, all around the countryside leading up to his palace, so the people would just get scared shitless, and they wouldn't come near them. I mean, what better way to [scare people]? Everyone called him Vlad the Impaler and Vlad the Bloodthirsty, because he would impale people and put them all over his kingdom. Whether that was just a way to scare people off, or if he was actually insane and was just killing people indiscriminately, who knows? But yeah, I think both theories are totally plausible.
Regardless, they obviously used him to get to Ian…Is there anything at all that you can say about what his next move is going to be now that all this went down at this little place?
I think his next move is going to be information gathering, because one thing I love about Aaron, is even as hot as it gets, he might get frustrated, he might get furious, but he always has a side of him that cools himself down and thinks through things and really information gathers before he acts, you know? So, I think the first thing he's going to have to ask himself is, “Is Carlson a rogue agent?” Was he acting purely out of instinct, being a former CIA agent? Maybe he was just operating from a place of PTSD from being in hot button situations in the past, or was he under the express orders of Lance Hornsby? Which if that's the case, all bets are off. I mean, If they literally used him as a patsy or basically like a [Trojan] horse of sorts, to kind of diplomatically, nicely, let the guard down in this new community just so Carlson could come in there and take over, then that's a whole different story. But if it was just one man acting alone, acting out of pure instinct, then I think he can deal with that, but he still would want Carlson of course to answer for his insane actions.
Right, right. That's why it's always interesting, because I think about the fact that obviously, Carlson's a little crazy, but, I mean, he may have been lied to by Hornsby. Although regardless of what really happened, we don't know for sure if Hornsby believes that’s what happened.
The other thing I want to ask is, and I guess, right now, maybe it will be a little bit different than it would have been before, but how do you think it's going to affect him knowing that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is in a pretty big way responsible for helping them?
I think people will be very shocked because, of course, the last time we saw Negan, it was a totally different place and different vibe entirely with how he left things with Maggie. So, I think people will be very, very shocked to see where Negan is now.
How has your life changed since you started working on the show?
Oh, my God, it's been night and day…I started as a fan of the show, watching it on my couch, and auditioned for it three times, never thought I would ever be a part of it. It's the weirdest thing. It's the weirdest thing to go from watching a show and being a fan of something and then being a part of it. It's surreal, obviously. But also, this fandom is so loyal and so enthusiastic, and not just in America, but all over the entire planet. There's literally not a part of the world that I've been to over the last seven or eight years, I guess, since I started the show, that at least some person on my travels hasn't gone, “Hey, are you that guy from [The Walking Dead
And it's shocking; it's weird. It's been a huge adjustment for me, because I'm a very private guy; I'm actually pretty awkward, and it's taught me how to be a little bit more open and just take that attention, because I'm definitely not used to at all. But it's been a really interesting process, and I'm grateful for all of it, but it's changed my life entirely.
Is there anything that either you were given or you've taken from the set to remember the show by?
Not yet, but I'm hoping to take something…I'm hoping that at some point in all this, I would love to get at the very least a little something, a little souvenir to bring home.
That would be cool. So, now, a kind of silly question to ask you. If the zombie apocalypse were real, how do you think you would do? And if you could take one character from any of the series with you, who would you take and why?
I think I'd do pretty well, because I was an Eagle Scout back in the day, and I just have a lot of weird, random survival skills stored in my subconscious for some reason, from all that stuff, [like] knowing which kind of moss to eat, knowing how to navigate your way through a forest and all that stuff. I mean, some of that stuff really would, I think, be very handy in the apocalypse. I'm not gonna say I would be totally fine, because I don't think anybody would be totally finally in the zombie apocalypse, but I think I'd do all right.
And if I could take one person, I think it would probably be Rick. He was just always such a great leader and someone who I think Aaron really admired and always believed that he had the best interest of everyone in mind when he led.
Is there anything at all that you've been told you're allowed to tease about what's coming up? I know it's hard.
I don't really think so, unfortunately. It's kind of mum's the word for now, because this is a very spoiler heavy season, as you probably noticed already, and every single episode is just one new revelation and one new crazy thing happening after the next. So, I wish I could tell you something but unfortunately, I just I can't.
Well, if they announce another spin off, I hope they're going to make one of Aaron and Gabe. I'd like to see that. That would be fun.
It's funny; it's kind of like this odd couple that came out of nowhere, and they're really fun together. I really like the way they work together.