Although it’s kind of spoilery to say, the end of last night’s episode of The Walking Dead introduced a new character called Aaron to the program. (Good timing too because we’ve lost two in as many weeks. Shhh, spoiler.) Anyway, we don’t know much about Aaron yet except that his name is Aaron, and he knows about the group, and – by God! – it looks like he’s making out alright in the zombie apocalypse. Aaron, played on the show by Ross Marquand, is a character from the comic book, so what implications does his arrival have for the core group of survivors? Marquand answered that, and other questions, in a recent interview announcing his arrival to the world of The Walking Dead. Spoilers included.
While talking to Entertainment Weekly, Marquand shared some insights into the character and his journey to being casting in the interesting and pivotal role of Aaron. At the end of last night’s episode, “Them,” Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are accosted by a man who calls himself Aaron and asks to see their leader, Rick. He says he’s a friend, and presumably he’s the same friend that left the group bottles filled with drinking water in the middle of the road, but is he really a friend?
In the comic book, Aaron is a recruiter for a supposedly safe community in Alexandria, and he looks for other survivors and decides whether they’re worthy to bring into the safe zone. Of course,the comic books and TV show aren’t carbon copies of each other, so all things considered, did Marquand engage in the original material before joining the show?
“I didn’t want to do anything until I talked to [showrunner] Scott Gimple first, so I had a phone call with him and said, ‘I know this is coming from a very specific source material with a fan base that we want to honor. Do you want me to mirror my performance off the depiction of Aaron in the comics?'” he explained.
“He’s like, ‘I certainly wouldn’t tell you to shy away from reading that because I think it will give you some great insights into whom he is, but ultimately I want you to make this character your own,'” he continued. “And that was a really nice note to give because sometimes you can get too caught up in the fandom of it all and the comic books and what people expect from that. It was nice to hear that there was some artistic freedom to make this character what you felt it should be and could be. But reading through [comic creator Robert] Kirkman’s comics was enormously helpful because you do get a really amazing sense of whom he is.”
We do know that he’s a pretty good detective. He managed to find out that the leader’s is Rick and that his name is “Rick,” and he’s been following a pretty savvy group of survivors without betraying himself, or his presence to them. “He’s been following this group, whipping out his spy gear to some degree,” Marquand said. “He’s been tracking the group for a while and getting a vibe from them and getting the dynamics of leadership from them and how they work together—and that’s extremely important to him. A lot more is going to be revealed next week.”
Marquand’s acting resume is quite diverse, but he’s perhaps best known for his starring role in the action movie A Lonely Place for Dying and for his spot-on celebrity impressions. For trivia buffs though, getting a chance to play Aaron wasn’t his first brush with getting cast on The Walking Dead.
“I would go in there and get callbacks sometimes, but it would never pan out for whatever reason,” he recalled. “And I think—you get fake sides, of course—but I think I auditioned for Gareth a year ago. Because some of the language in the show when I saw it six months later matched what I saw in those sides, and I was like, ‘Gosh, I think I auditioned for Gareth.’ And I was so bummed because that was such a great part and it was done so wonderfully by Andrew West. But I’m glad now that didn’t happen because it was only three or four episodes.”
So hopefully for Marquand, Aaron’s got a great long run coming up.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm EST on AMC.