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The Walking Dead - IronE Singleton Interview

You're originally from Atlanta. What's it like to see your hometown through the eyes of a zombie apocalypse?
The word I use all the time is "surreal." The story I tell, me and Laurie Holden, who plays Andrea on the show, we were shooting Season 1 at the quarry, which is only about three minutes away from where I grew up. So we had to drive through the area where I grew up—not the neighborhood, because those buildings, that project, has been torn down—but driving through there, I just got kind of nostalgic, just thinking about all my experiences, where I was ducking and dodging bullets, leaving a party and trying to avoid a fight, or looking at somebody get shot, and it's like, "Now here I am, making a big-time Hollywood production," the contrast was so great, it moved me almost to tears.

Your personal backstory of growing up in the projects and losing your mother to HIV/AIDS definitely features "survival" as a theme. How does that parallel your experience on the show? Since T-Dog isn't a character from the comics, how much backstory have you given him without having a page to work off of?
I've given T-Dog my backstory. Like I do with most of my characters, I say, "How far back can I go with this character that I'm playing now, and how far into my life can I bring that character?" For one, it gives you less work to do, there isn't as much homework where you have to say, "What's his favorite color? What kind of ice cream does he like?" You have to do all of that stuff, and it takes a lot more time, especially if you're constantly working and playing different characters. So I say okay, what has my life been like? And basically, T-Dog's life's been like my life up through college, and then after college, T-Dog branches off and he goes and gets a job. He could be a blue collar or white collar worker, he didn't go down my path, the path of acting, but he just became an average guy, an everyman, going to work every day before the apocalypse hit. So that's how I play the character.

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