Fear the Walking Dead Exclusive Interview: Alexa Nisenson

1 of 2

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

As the fourth season of Fear the Walking Dead enters in its final weeks, get to know the show’s stand out newcomer, Alexa Nisenson, who plays Charlie.

At twelve years of age, Alexa Nisenson has already done everything from live-action and animated TV to movies, comedy to drama. She’s currently killing it (literally) as complicated, even controversial, recurring character Charlie on AMC’s uber-popular Fear the Walking Dead.

Ahead of the final two episodes of the fourth season of Fear the Walking Dead, I had the pleasure of speaking with Miss Nisenson about filming the critically-acclaimed episode “Close Your Eyes,” portraying Charlie’s mental health struggles responsibly, working with her “big sister” Alycia Debnam-Carey, navigating social media, settling the ultimate teen debate: Gossip Girl or Riverdale and much, much more!

Show Snob: You were very young when Fear the Walking Dead premiered a few years ago, so had you seen the show at all before you started the audition process?

Alexa Nisenson: I think I was eight or so when the show first came on, so I hadn’t watched any of the episodes when I auditioned. But I knew of the show, of course.

What made you want to go out for Charlie? What attracted you to the role?

How different she was from anything I’d gotten to do so far. I’d done two movies before I joined FearFist Fight and Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life. And those were both really fun. But, you know, they were comedy and family movies. And I did a little bit of dramatic TV before, but I’d never gotten to bring such a complicated character to life and that really excited me.

Were you nervous since it was super different from anything you’d done before?

Well, a little bit nervous, but mostly excited to be able to do something I’d never done before… and ready for the challenge!

You’re the only kid on set on Fear. So what’s that like, especially since it’s such a dark show? 

I actually don’t mind it. [Laughs.] I’m an only child, and I have grown up around more adults than kids my own age. So I think I’m actually more comfortable with adults than I am with kids. And everyone on the cast is really great and loving people, so I really enjoyed being on set with them.

All right, so I think Charlie is definitely becoming more a fan favorite now. But at the beginning of the season, [there were] a lot of people not necessarily on her side.

Yeah. [Laughs.]

So if there’s anyone out there who’s still holding a little grudge toward Charlie for her role in Nick (Frank Dillane) and Madison’s (Kim Dickens) deaths, what would you say to them?

Umm, probably, I’m sorry. [Laughs.] But you know, I’m definitely such a people person, and I really want everyone to like me. [Laughs.] And sometimes I have to remind myself that they’re angry at Charlie and not me.

But I also get it because she definitely broke people’s hearts. And I hope that along the way, she can definitely really redeem herself with all of the fans because she can’t go back in time, but I love that now she’s trying to prove her worth to the ones that she hurt the most and is actually genuinely sorry and wants to make it right as much as she can.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 14 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

What do you think was Charlie’s mindset? Obviously, [with] Madison’s death, she couldn’t have predicted that, you know, what she’d done earlier would lead to that. But with Nick, what do you think — was it mostly fear and maybe a bit of anger about him killing Ennis (Evan Gamble)?

Yeah, I think both. She probably definitely was angry because he did kill one of her kind of guardians. But I think she was also scared. She didn’t know what to do. She’s a kid trying to get by and, you know, it was her impulse and her instinct to do it. I mean, I think she definitely feels horrible about it, but I feel like she kind of had to do what she had to do.

Obviously, a lot of the characters have done questionable things, so I feel like a lot of the problem is just that Nick was such a beloved character.

Definitely… I know everyone loved him. I feel horrible. [Laughs.]

More. Fear The Walking Dead: Cast discusses Kim Dickens’ exit. light

More from AMC

“Close Your Eyes,” episode 4×10, was amazing. 

Thank you.

I read in an interview with your co-star Alycia that Charlie wasn’t actually in the episode [at] first.


But then the writers reworked it at the last minute. So what was that like? Coming into that?

Well, thank you so much. It really meant a lot to me to know that you loved the episode so much. It definitely came as a surprise to me when I got the script. It was a moment I’ll never forget — getting to see the script, my name on it with just Alycia. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, am I dreaming or is this actually happening?’

So once [it] sank in, I just felt so grateful and excited and a little bit nervous. But I knew that with Michael Satrazemis directing, combined with Alycia’s insane talent, that it was definitely going to be special. And it was just such an amazing experience, and I feel so honored to be able to be a part of something so special.

And before we actually started filming, Michael, Alycia and I got to meet and really go through the script and kind of talk. And then, after that meeting I was like, ‘Okay, I’m gonna do this and I’m ready.’ [Laughs.] I wanted to do all I could to help make it the type of episode I knew it could be.

One of the things that really started coming into focus in 4×10 and starting with 4×09 was Charlie’s mental health. As you said earlier, she’s a very complex character. We see in 4×09 she’s basically stopped talking [and] that continues even into like halfway through 4×10. 


She starts talking after Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) saves her from what was basically a suicide attempt. So, obviously, very heavy material to handle for anyone, but especially someone your age. And a lot of TV shows and movies, you know, they try to sensationalize suicide and handle it very poorly and offensively. So how did you prepare for that storyline?

It was such a sensitive topic for so many people, and it’s a real struggle. I was so relieved and thankful for the writers who managed to address it and let Charlie experience her grief and thoughts in a very real way but also a responsible and respectful way. It’s the writers and showrunners who really deserve the praise for how well they worked that into the storyline.

So, really, I just spent a lot of quiet time thinking, gearing up for it. And I journaled a lot and really just tried to imagine myself and, if I were Charlie, how I would feel, at that age especially, so I could really bring some truth to it all.

Wow… That’s great to hear that [you’re] putting that much effort into it.

Thank you.

Yeah… and that was one of the highlights, too, of the episode, aside from everything that happened, was [your portrayal of Charlie’s grief].

You’re so sweet. I love that. Thank you.

Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

So the other thing, aside from the emotional turmoil, was that you guys were in basically a [violent storm]. So what was that like? I mean, obviously, they didn’t put you in the middle of a [storm], but it seemed like it came pretty close in terms of how realistic the set conditions were.

Totally! [Laughs.] One scene where I’m on the roof actually with the walker, we have these big industrial fans blowing wind and then a lot of water being sprayed at us. And it’s cold water. It kept getting in my eyes as I was trying to walk out, and I totally thought I was gonna slip and fall, so I had to stop for a minute.

And then when we were in the basement scene, they built this basement set for us in this water tank facility. And our director Michael was kind of far away, and it was really hard to hear him. He was having to yell to get to us.

But I’m definitely so grateful — oh, and we also [laughs] were wearing like 10 pounds of clothing, so I was barely moving through the water… But I’m so grateful for it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, though.

Were you guys filming in the spring or was it back in winter?

We were filming in like March, April-ish. So it was kind of cold, but getting into summer a little bit, so the weather outside was kind of okay. It actually did storm, though, while we were filming. And we had to wait like four hours because of lightning, which was kind of ironic. [Laughs.]

Yeah, for sure. [Laughs.] Okay, so moving on, we saw Charlie and Alicia at the end of 4×13 for a little bit and then much more in this week’s episode, last Sunday [4×14]. They definitely grew closer in 4×10, obviously, but now with Alicia making it her mission to get Charlie to the beach and becoming her protector kind of, they’re definitely a lot closer. So how would you define their relationship now?

For sure, Alicia is so determined to do this. And it’s such a beautiful thing to see her, even after all of her loss and anger, try to show Charlie that darkness doesn’t have to win and that doing good things for others, even in an apocalypse, will matter.

So I think the best way I can describe their bond right now would be acceptance because I think Alicia accepts Charlie and is trying to do what she feels is right and, in turn, Charlie is beyond grateful.

So what’s it like working with, the actress, Alycia? You guys have really great chemistry.

Thank you. [Laughs.] I don’t know where to start — she’s amazing. Professionally, she’s just unbelievable, and she taught me so much. And, personally, I just, I love her, and I look up to her a lot, you know. She’s someone that I think is such an amazing role model, and I’m so happy that she’s in my life. It’s like having a big sister.

Alycia Debnam-Carey as Alicia Clark, Alexa Nisenson as Charlie – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 4, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Ryan Green/AMC

Nice! All right, so we’re coming towards the end of the season now.