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Fear The Walking Dead’s Colman Domingo On His Approach To Directing The Series

Colman Domingo in Fear the Walking Dead Season 5

Colman Domingo is one of the few original cast members left on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, and this season he’ll be directing an episode as well. When the series first introduced Victor Strand, the character was the epitome of cynical, which says a lot considering just how steep in nihilism The Walking Dead franchise is. Over the course of the next few seasons, though, as Strand lost companions like Madison (Kim Dickens), Daniel (Rubén Blades), Nick (Frank Dillane) and more, a new side of him slowly began to emerge. 

The side of Victor Strand is set for a new kind of adventure when the series returns this weekend for season 5, as the group of survivors — Morgan (Lennie James), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Althea (Maggie Grace), June (Jenna Elfman), John (Garret Dillahunt), Charlie (Alexa Nisenson), Sarah (Mo Collins), and Wendell (Daryl Mitchell) — look to make the world a better place, one step at a time. What Strand’s role in all of this will be remains to be seen, but as far as Domingo is concerned, he’ll be doubling up on his workload like he did in season 4 by also directing an episode. 

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Domingo also directed episode 12 of season 4, ‘Weak,’ showing off some of the skills he honed as a theater actor and director. This time around, he’ll be directing the episode 3 of season 5, details of which are currently under wraps. And while the actor wasn’t able to discuss the plot line of his episode, he did speak about his approach to directing during a recent set visit attended by Screen Rant. 

“I know that I have a very different, a very unique approach to directing for The Walking Dead. I know it so very well and understand the characters and understand the way the set operates as well, and even when it comes to camera angels, and lighting, and mood, and tone. I think those are things I have in my back pocket. 

Working with actors, I've been a director in theater for over 20 years, so I know how to work with actors, I know how to team build. So I've been taking all my skills that I've had in the theater and applying them to the film world. And more than anything I think I like to have a good time. I think I like to make sure we get our days and get our work done. At the end of the day, it's less about the fancy special shots. You always have a few of those that you want, but more than anything it's about telling a story. Which is why I like the way we lock off our shots, it's very spaghetti western."

Domingo says there are advantages to working overtime by acting and directing, that latter of which he thinks gives him more patience when it comes to accepting the downtime as a performer. 

Colman Domingo as Victor Strand Colman Domingo and Alexa Nisenson in Fear the Walking Dead Season 5

“It really is character and story based. It's less about 'Oh look at my fancy camera moves.' It's less about the hand prints of the director directly on it. It's more about making sure that you are facilitating the story. So that's something I bring to it. I think that it's actually because working on set as director I think, I think I'm about to blow away. The wind's like coming from nowhere. 

I think that because I've been behind the camera a few more times, I think I have even more patience as an actor. I think that's something that most actors, because we're usually sort of like, we come out of our little cage and we do our scene and then we go back into our little cage and we don't know how the rest of the team is being developed and what needs to happen. We're a little isolated to be honest. But now I have more of an understanding, like what needs to happen, or why we're sitting around waiting, or why things has to turn around this way. 

But also, I'm very curious. So, even while I'm on set and I'm seeing what they're setting up, I'm always looking behind camera, seeing what they're doing, and listening as well. Because this has been like all of my training. I have no formal training for anything that I do as a writer, director, or you name it. But I think it's all because you have to be open and listen to everything on set. It's all your conservatory, and you can choose to have it or not. For me, I'm constantly learning.”

Viewers can look forward to watching Domingo’s episode on June 16, but rest assured, he’ll be making Victor Strand’s presence be known throughout the season as well. What sort of story is in store for the character is unknown, but given certain recent changes in his character, it will be interesting to see who he is partnered with in season 5. 

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Fear the Walking Dead season 5 premieres Sunday, June 2 @9pm on AMC.

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