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Callies talks ‘Walking Dead’
BY RYAN SENAGA / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Zombie fans were in for a live, in the flesh treat on Saturday, Dec. 8, at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Kennedy Theatre. Sarah Wayne Callies, former star of cable network AMC’s hit show, “The Walking Dead,” gave a lecture, expounding on all that is zombie — and Russian writer Anton Chekhov — in regard to her tenure on the first cable series to win the 18 to 49 age demographic in the fall TV ratings.
Callies’ character on “Walking Dead,” Lori Grimes, was killed off earlier this season in what might be one of television’s most harrowing scenes of giving birth ever.
The rare appearance by the Honolulu-raised, Punahou graduate was made to help close UH-Manoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance’s undead marathon.
“Chekhov and Zombies: A Match Made in Heaven” lasted about 30 minutes, and the material was heady stuff to say the least. After asking for a show of hands by theater students in the audience, Callies said probably only three other people in the room would be able to digest it all.
In a nutshell, Callies tied zombies to Chekhov through the modern naturalism school of acting (i.e. the Stanislavski method) and argued that historical dramas could be given contemporary relevance with the inclusion of the aforementioned creatures. Interestingly, she relied on Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” to cite examples, as opposed to Markus Wessendorf’s play, “Uncle Vanya and Zombies,” which recently finished its run at Kennedy Theatre.
Unlike the character she played on “The Walking Dead,” or even “Prison Break,” Callies can only be described as self-deprecatingly charming. She began the night by asking the audience, “Why aren’t you doing something more interesting?” But things really came alive during her Q&A session with the audience.
Callies described the moment when she found out her character would die; a fan came up to her and showed her the frame of the comic book at ComicCon.
“A somewhat rattling experience,” she said.
Callies also revealed she doesn’t like scary movies and could barely make it through the first 17 minutes of “Zombieland.” When asked if Hawaii would collapse if a zombie apocalypse happened here, Callies thoughtfully worried about Matson containers getting infected.
“The zombies will be the least of our problems if we don’t start growing more food locally.”
Although the theatre was only half-full, it was obvious that fans of the show made up the majority of the audience. When pressed on the identity of Lori’s baby’s father, Callie offered some biological advice: “If the baby turns out to have blue eyes, it’s Rick’s (her character’s husband).”
Another audience member gushed, “I love you!” before proceeding to argue with Callies about her character’s marital chilliness during the first three episodes of the third season. Yet another fan asked for a hug, which Callies supplied before she remarked, “I have such a weird job!”
Although we didn’t necessarily get any info out of her that would be deemed revelatory, here’s one tidbit you wouldn’t get out of something like ComicCon. When asked what she missed the most about Hawaii, she answered, “The food.”
Callies’ next project is a tornado thriller called “Black Sky,” but here’s hoping the industry lets her take a stab at comedy.