SPOILERS for last night’s Fear the Walking Dead episodes
In last night’s second episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Travis Manawa (Cliff Curtis) was unexpectedly killed off of the series. It’s a death that I don’t think anyone saw coming, and while showrunner Dave Erickson said that Cliff Curtis is an “insanely generous” actor who understood the decision to kill off the character, an interview Curtis gave to TV Guide in Australia before the episode aired suggests that he may not have been as upset about the character’s death as many viewers.
Asked about his character’s role in the upcoming season of Fear the Walking Dead, Curtis was quick to point out that he has “other coals in the fire and fingers in pies,” a probable reference to the fact that he’s signed on as the lead in the next four Avatar films. He then added, “because, especially, on a show like this, you never know what’s going to happen,” an obvious allusion to the fact that his character was going to be killed off. “I think this is my fourth television show and it’s nothing unusual to go to work on Friday and think you’ve got six months’ of work and for them to go, ‘Oh, don’t come back to work on Monday, we’re canceling the show.'”
While Curtis continued to refer to canceled shows in his past, it’s easy to interpret the same message about his involvement with Fear. “Everybody’s happy, everybody’s good, and then it’s ‘Aww, yeah, nah. We’re canceling the show.’ I’ve had this happen to me and I’m like ‘What? What happened?’ And nothing happened. That’s just how it is.”
Curtis also spoke to the secrecy of the Fear the Walking Dead scripts with a quote that resonates even louder after the death of Travis. “They’re terrible. They don’t let us know anything. It’s really shocking actually. We often don’t find out until a few days, or even the day before we start shooting the next episode.” In other words, it’s quite likely that Curtis didn’t find out his character was going to die until a few days or even the day before they shot the second episode of this season. “It wouldn’t be my way of running things, but that’s how they do it,” Curtis added.
Meanwhile, interestingly Dave Erickson revealed to TVLine that they had a different idea originally for Travis’ character. “There was a version of the story that extended deeper into the season, but ultimately, we pulled it back and did it in Episode 2, really because of what it did for the rest of the characters going forward.”
That statement jibes with what Curtis had to say about the nature of his scripts on the series. “You know, we might get a draft and they’ll say, ‘OK, cool, we’re going to shoot that — Oh no, hang on,'” Curtis said. “And then they’ll send a new draft and it’s completely different from the old one.”
Curtis wrapped up the interview by suggesting that after watching Travis struggle with his moral consciousness for the last two seasons, “Life becomes a lot simpler for Travis in season three.”
That is an understatement.
Meanwhile, knowing that he’d no longer be on the series, Curtis spoke freely about the missteps the writers have made with his character over the first two seasons in another interview with Auckland Now.
“Some of the choices that Travis made, I’m going – eh?” says Curtis. “That fulla’s eating a dog in your lounge bro — take care of the business. You know what I mean?”
“I had an argument with the writers and the director — I’m going, ‘I don’t care who that fulla is who’s eating a dog in my lounge. A fulla comes in my lounge and starts eating a dog, I’m dealing to the situation right here and now. I’m not asking questions. I don’t need to know what drug that fulla’s on. It’s like, somebody go and get me the vacuum cleaner cord, I’m tying this fulla up and I’m hanging him up outside! That fulla’s not staying in my house. No way’.”
“And they were like, ‘Oh no, no, no, no — you’re an English teacher’. I don’t care what kind of English teacher I am! No fulla’s coming in my house and eating a dog! And I argued about it but in the end it was like, ‘OK, I’ll do what you want but that doesn’t make any sense to me at all’.
At the very least, Curtis will no longer have to worry about fulla’s eating dogs in his lounge on Fear the Walking Dead anymore. In the meantime, Fear will continue on without Curtis and, based on the first two episodes back, this season definitely looks to be an improvement, as the series embraces its inner-The Walking Dead.