Fear the Walking Dead’s Danay Garcia is the strong yet nurturing force behind Luciana. Starting out as the quasi-matriarchal pillar of La Colonia, going into season 3, Luciana will have to deal with the aftermath of taking a risk on someone.
Garcia came on Den of Geek’s Walkng Dead podcast, No Room in Hell, to have a chat with me about what drives Luciana to survive. From the minute Garcia came on the line, so personable and honest about her work, it was evident just how much time and effort she puts into making Luciana a complex character who can love as much as she can fight. Garcia has created one badass powerful woman who is only going to grow once we roll into Fear the Walking Dead season 3.
Here’s my chat with Danay Garcia:
Den of Geek: Jumping right in, the show ended onn such a cliffhanger. Your character, Luciana, has been shot, Nick has been stomped in the head, and as far as we can tell they have been captured. That all happened in the span of a few minutes after having Luciana in such a stable-seeming position back at La Colonia. She has everything that she relies on, and everything she believes is true. Then all of that is taken away, she takes a risk, and gives up some of her independence to follow Nick into the unknown. So how do you think Luciana’s mental state is going into the third season?
Wow. Just listening to you right now, it is just terrifying. Forget about Luciana, but for anybody it would be horrible. But that is precisely what she is going through. In between the chaos she found some sort of comfort in La Colonia, and then she just left everything with the faith to find a new place and to survive, because everything is about survival. Then everything turns upside down, big time.
It’s not just the fact that [Luciana] has been shot or that her plans didn’t work, or the fact that the people she loves and fought for in La Colonia – they just left and escaped and there are some dead. She saw them. Some got shot like she did. That is heartbreaking for her and she’s just lost the people she loves and it’s just a conversation of how to get by and how to move forward.
The fact that she has by her side Nick becomes her foundation even though, quite honestly, I think that we have a fight somewhere like, “What the hell were you thinking?” I mean like in the real world. If I were Luciana, I would just tell him, “Look!” While I’m being shot, of course.
Like, “I get it, but come on!”
Yeah, like come on, [Nick]. It didn’t work! [Laughs]
It’s funny that you said that because I have been thinking about the fact that this whole time Luciana is this really badass independent woman, but who is a lone wolf. And so is Nick in a different way, and in this weird way you find some chemistry in both being lone people. But now, Nick has led everyone into this terror and it’s basically his fault, despite good intentions. Just judging by the season 3 synopsis, he’s going to be reunited with his family and not so alone anymore.
The more I get into the story, and the more I talk about it, it’s true Luciana is like this lone wolf who knows how to take care of herself and respond to others. She is basically an orphan of the apocalypse. She lost everybody and her family. To some extent, working with Frank [Dillane], I’m just finding these characters’ similarities. Also, Nick is an orphan of the apocalypse, but by choice. He left his family and I found him in the middle of the road about to die. That’s something that [Luciana] found extremely appealing, and like wow I don’t know where he comes [besides] the fact that he is brave enough to be out there around the dead makes him an orphan like me. There’s a commonality of pain between them. The fact that they both made a decision to start a relationship, even though they can handle it by themselves, it’s a strong foundation to something special. So I kind of went with that as an actor, kind of making that relationship stronger.
The fact that the whole season ends with that this relationship could possibly crumble, as everything falls apart. It’s one of those moments where coming into it, it’s like what doesn’t kill you actually makes you stronger. She has been shot, she has lost everything. Obviously, we are some strangers that we really don’t know, and where is she going to go from there? In order to be fearless you need to be fearful and in order to be strong you need to be weak at some point. That’s kind of this lone wolf of finding her own feet again and standing up. That is the exciting part of her.
You know, I mean I know, as the actress playing her, that at some point she is going to get back on her feet. That’s the beauty of playing her, because it’s like how are we going to get there together, Danay and Luciana? How are we going to get back on our feet and be that wolf that always fights back? That always believes that you can’t settle. How is Nick going to find himself in that transition with her? Because obviously she is not in a good place, for sure. So that’s the part I love about Luciana. This season has a lot of, “How is she going to get back on her feet?” Because this time it is not going to be for La Colonia because they’re gone. That’s the exciting part.
To go back to something you just said. Nick chose this orphanhood and even he and Luciana’s coming together is in this scene where Luciana loses her brother, and Nick is comforting her. But, he had a sister that he left by choice. Do you think that there is some resentment there that might come out? Especially now given what’s happened?
I think that there is a difference between Luciana and Nick despite the fact that they are both orphans of the apocalypse. In my case, I really lost them and they’re not coming back. In Nick’s situation, he chose that. At some point, those are differences that will come to life, I think. I don’t know how they are going to play out. But there is a big difference in leaving someone by choice and losing somebody for real. That makes these characters different in that sense, and that is interesting to me. That we found each other in this lonely stage.
In the beginning it seemed like you guys were never going to get along.
Yeah. He’s impossible. Are you kidding me?!
You could tell Luciana was very, “Nah, not dealing with you. Go be crazy somewhere else!”
Yeah, this is not happening. But I actually save him because I see his bravery of being there on his own because I know what that feels like.
It’s interesting because we are talking about all the ways that these characters have to survive and go on with their lives. And I think something very special about Fear the Walking Dead is that every character they have seems to represent a different type of survival. Travis is this good guy trying to bring the old world into the new world. Alicia is a fighter, and she is kind, but she knows how to get things done. Nicks is like almost too comfortable here. He fits in right away. He is not necessarily a fighter. He is smart. He has his weird way that works for him.
The reason why it comes so easy for him is because when the world was normal he was living the apocalypse in his soul. I mean, he was a heroin drug addict, and he was living that kind of a life, and the fact that he came to life is it’s just his alley. He just knows how to deal with this survival that he was dealing with before when he was a drug addict.
If you notice that after the apocalypse started he stopped doing drugs. He’s like, “Oh crap! This is not just in my head!” It’s kind of cool how the character has evolved. While he was with Luciana he never used drugs. Obviously, yeah, he was a drug addict, but now he has to deal with different kinds of situations. That’s how it came really easy for him, the transition, because he was escaping something before.
The idea that Nick thrives in this world because he didn’t in the other. That’s what he represents, but what do you think your character represents?
I think one of the reasons that people say Luciana is such a badass – and she is, but I think most importantly she is somebody that senses survival and will do it at all costs and not just do it but do it right. Luciana has really strong values. Strong family values, strong maternal values – I maybe wouldn’t say maternal but yes maternal. She cares about people and about being a role model and someone that people can rely on, and she is willing to go to any extreme to get that.
I find it really cool how people see her as a badass, and yes she is but she is kind of a badass of her life, you know. She is a badass of her own world. She has managed to keep some sanity in that crazy, crazy life, and how people treat each other. She just does everything for her next level of survival and not just survival, but surviving right and with values and that’s hard in a world where they will just kill you for a water. That is amazing.
When you are in times of struggle, you are either going to choose greed, rob, or just go whatever way you need to go to survive in the right way. The way with values. She is still conserving those really interesting values. She has to go through the ups and downs and do anything, but doing it right is what matters to her and that is awesome. I think that’s why people think she is badass. Because, even the bad guys are badass. I mean, everybody. But the fact that she does it with genuine honesty and kindness and strength. Even when she kills the zombies it’s not like, “I hate you!” It’s just like, “I need your blood to survive.” There’s no hatred in her. There’s no mean evil stuff. It’s just the kindest way to survive and see the obstacles as a way to get better and to learn even though it’s difficult.
I just rewatched the finale, and I’m like, “Uh oh.” Season three is going to be a storm. So much to deal with without the time because, I’m assuming, they are going to have to get a move on things. They can’t like process.
Totally. That’s exactly right! That’s where she is at, and for me, as long as there is a good foundation of who she is and what’s her meaning in this world, the rest just comes. As an actor, just finding those moments where I can maximize her essence as a woman and as a warrior is what really excites me every single day being Luciana. It’s really amazing.
Switching gears a little bit, we have been talking about Luciana in the show, but overall the women in Fear the Walking Dead are crazy cool. They’re outshining the men at every turn. The men are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and these women are just stepping up. Each one of them have this grasp on what’s going on that the men don’t seem to have. They just get it.
Recently, Dave Erickson was talking about a new villain and the word on the street is she’s going to be a woman. Which is interesting for The Walking Dead universe because we have a lot of male villains, but not a lot of female villains. Do you think that plays into how the women will be from here on out?
I think it’s awesome that you are asking me this question. I think, in 2017, the best that could happen to us is to be a girl. What a privilege it is to be a woman today. This is the moment that we can really be heard, and we have been heard! It’s such a great time because there is such a consciousness about it. In the show, as you very well said, we as actresses on the show, we know this. It is such a joy and an exciting time to play these women on Fear the Walking Dead.
For me, it’s such an honor to represent a strong woman, a strong leading lady that is in bad circumstances. For Kim [Dickens], it’s a great place to play a mother who has lost a lot and is there and fighting and killing it, really. It’s just such a great time that the studios and the network make such an emphasis on how women can be incredible. There’s a growth in women in the show and I feel so honored, seriously every day, to be part of that. To be part of a group of women who contribute to the world, either through their characters or in my own personal life, those around me. But through my character, through my art, it’s the best.
Each one of the girls on the show is so aware of it and so honored. It’s so exciting to put that out there, especially nowadays. Women, we need to portray these characters. This is what we’ve been asking for, or at least this is what I’ve been asking for. [Laughs] Like, internally. I always wanted to play a character that I could put it all out there all the time for everyone to receive and take it in . Also, to be surrounded by these types of women in the show is so inspiring, it really is. I’m so happy that you actually picked that [up], because it’s just amazing. Isn’t it? Especially for The Walking Dead world, like you said. It’s so male-oriented and Dave and the writers and the studios are doing a kind of spin on it. A little bit of a twist of “What if this would happen? And what if this character, a woman, would be put into this situation?” I think it’s working fantastic.
It almost seems that because civilization is no more, because the world has changed and things are not what they used to be. Watching as a woman, there’s almost room for gender roles to not play a part and for women to be bigger, badder, and stronger. Not suppressed at all. Do you feel that in this world, more than even in other roles? Do you feel that this post-civilization world concept plays into it?
I do feel it, yeah. It’s interesting because women excel so much when hard circumstances arrive. Our natural instinct is not to leave our homes and leave our kids and go to war, but if a bear knocks on my door and I have my children here, somebody’s gonna get hurt and it’s not gonna be my kids! It’s a natural woman instinct to protect what we love … and that’s what people have underestimated in the past. The way they are putting us in that position is great and is epic and something to be recognized, and I am just really grateful to be a part of something like that. Through my work I can put it all out there, and it’s just really amazing.
Yeah. I am excited to see what happens.
It’s really an honor when people say Luciana is such a badass, because it’s all these things. It’s just great to have that. It’s like a huge accomplishment, and I think Luciana is very happy too!
Maybe not right now.
[Laughs] Maybe not right now.
Danay Garcia, thank you very much!
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