Callan McAuliffe talks The Walking Dead and future projects

Callan McAuliffe as Alden - The Walking Dead _ Season 11 - Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC
Callan McAuliffe as Alden - The Walking Dead _ Season 11 - Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC /

We may know actor Callan McAuliffe as the ex-Savior turned hero Alden on The Walking Dead, but he has quite the acting repository. From roles in films such as The Great Gatsby, The Legend of Ben Hall, and Summer Night to his work in charities such as The Unmentionables, his versatility is noteworthy.

While Alden’s fate is still unknown on The Walking Dead‘s final season, some things are a little more clear and concise — especially his surprise and excitement at his name appearing during the opening credits.

I had the opportunity to speak with Mr. McAuliffe about his work on The Walking Dead and got a sneak peek at his upcoming projects.

Q: Your name is now in the main opening credits sequence. I was wondering how you feel about that? 

A: That’s amazing, actually. It was some fan who drew my attention to that — someone who shared it on Twitter. I wasn’t aware that it hadn’t been there already because I didn’t fully comprehend the selection process for that. But I was pretty shocked to discover it was there anyway.

Everyone was wishing me well on Twitter. That was exciting.

I do my best to avoid watching myself, even if it comes to my name flashing on the screen. I didn’t know what really went into the title cards. I understand it is a thing of seniority, I guess, or time on the show. Both Cooper and I were in the same region.

Q: Now I understand you probably can’t give me a lot of information about the show and the upcoming season, but to the best of your ability, heading into this season, what direction did you hope to see Alden’s path go, and do you think you can tease a little bit about what might be happening next?   

A: I’m trying to think of a way that I can that is even remotely interesting without revealing anything. It’s one of those where if I’d be starting bullshitting you, and then I think you’d be conscious of it, and I think your readers will be conscious. It will be some copy and paste phrases like, “Well, you can look forward to some exciting and scary stuff,” which is about all I can reveal. Although what I can say is that these scripts have been outrageous in a way that…really step it up a notch, is what I’ll tell you.

Q: Alden has had some close calls on The Walking Dead, as you are well aware. What makes his current situation stand out from the previous ones?

A: I would say it’s the fact that he’s alone. And I feel like so much of Alden is built around sort of companionship. He’s always been trying to be that collaborative, cooperative element, especially in places like Hilltop. He’s always looking out for other people. Now it’s just him. As much as he can hold his own ground, I wonder if he’s as well-practiced at looking after himself as well as he is looking out for others.

Q: As you recall, Alden and Enid had a relationship for a short time until unfortunately she was killed off the show. Do you recall when you first found out about that? And were you surprised that they would be actually romantically involved?

A: I mean, I can’t say that I was surprised. I don’t know the world or the characters nearly so much as the people who are writing them. I suppose I don’t…nothing really surprises me anymore when comes to screenwriting. But I was surprised at her death. I thought, if it’s going to be one of the two of us, I should expect me to be the one to go given the respected relevance of our characters, but there you go.

Q: Your character has a justifiable hatred of Negan. Assuming that he doesn’t know that Negan had actually killed Alpha — who was, of course, responsible for Enid’s actual death — do you think his opinion will change for Negan at all? He kind of gave him the revenge for him.

A: I suppose so, but I don’t know bent Alden’s mind is on revenge. I think Negan’s known less-than-savory past would I think register more with him just in terms of a moral thing that he’s exhibited previously. That would register more with him than the potential for redemption, or revenge rather, that he might have taken on Alpha.

I imagine him giving him a sarcastic pat on the back for it. I don’t think it will recover him in Alden’s eyes because he’s got something of a stubborn moral compass. I don’t know how much room for nuance Alden has when it comes to decency.

Q: What has the overall experience been like during the filming of The Walking Dead? I’m talking from when you first got on the show till about now? 

A: I think the thing that stands out to me most is the contrast between the early — the feeling of the first week or two than the feeling thereafter. For the first few weeks, I was conscious of entering a set, joining a program that had been going on for a near-decade.

These people are a well-oiled machine. They seemed a large enough family already, not that much need for another.

So I kind of step onto that step like, “Oh I’m the newbie. I got some ground to cover.” But they are so, they were so welcoming from the get-go. I pretty immediately, save for the opening nerves, felt like a part of the family.

Which I think is a remarkable thing for a show like that to do because they don’t have to do that. That’s not even necessarily something that comes through on the screen. It’s just they’re decent people. I was surprised that they, even after so long, continued to make an effort and treat everyone with respect and dignity, and I think that’s a testament to the people behind the show.

Q: In between filming and your personal life, how do make time for your hobbies? I found out that you dabbled in writing, you play a lot of instruments — you’re involved in so many things, so how do you make time for all of this? 

A: It’s one of those jobs where you have a unique amount of free time. It’s just unreliable free time because you know you’re always on contract, on somebody else’s schedule. But it’s free time nonetheless. But I find myself trying my best to beat the procrastination demon and actually accomplish things — that’s where writing comes from.

It is a way to effectively use one’s free time. But acting is also one of those rare jobs where doing random nonsense, accomplishing random things, and being a jack of all trades can actually benefit you because it can be sourced in character.

It’s true I play a lot of instruments, but I wouldn’t dare play them on stage with professional musicians. I have like a fireside confidence at all of these instruments. But those might one day form a character. The same goes for a lot of other skills I might develop. It’s a disjointed life because your auditioning and bouncing between projects and dates are being thrown at you with seldom with very much warning.

It’s very easy to just sit and twiddle your thumbs and drown in that temporal anxiety. But I think if you just got things that occupy your time, I think you’re safer.

Q: What would you say is one of the biggest differences between filming a movie and a television show? 

A: I suppose that’s actually a nice segway from what I said earlier because the film is probably a much shorter shoot process, and usually, the dates are blocked out pretty reliably. For the most part, you have a set number of dates, a couple of weeks, a couple of months in this place, and then you know when you’re finished, and you can kind of plan around it.

With a show like The Walking Dead, because there’s so much material, so many actors, and you shoot for so long, you’re never quite sure what your schedule is gonna be. In that sense, I would say that’s the main difference.

The on-set experience is identical. Because a lot of these people work, on both kinds of projects you know, the same equipment. With The Walking Dead, there is less an issue of time as much as there is an issue of things they have to shoot because there’s so much.

It can seem a little gun-ho at times, but I love it. Provided it’s not reducing the quality, that’s the ideal. These guys are out here getting things done in a few takes that some folks might take 20 to get the same quality. So I was impressed with that in that sense. It’s a machine, like I said.

But yeah, it’s mostly the scheduling that makes it different.

Q: One of your upcoming projects is called The Duel. What can you tell us about this project? 

A: So beyond that, there’s not a lot that I can say other than the title is related to the story.

It’s a project that I did with a couple of dear friends of mine that I’m extremely excited about. It has some pretty remarkable people in it.

We shot it in Indiana.

It’s set to come out at some point next year, I would assume. I’m just an actor that’s not my realm. But it is something that when I can talk more about it, I can’t wait because it’s one of my favorite projects that I’ve done, and it happens to be with friends. That’s the dream in this industry.

Q: Are there any other projects you have coming up that you’re able to tell us about? 

A: Yes, I’m actually flying into LA tomorrow to go to a premiere for a film called Him & Her starring Cristina Spruell and me.

The following information was provided to Show Snob by Callan’s team:

Him & Her synopsis: inspired by true events in 1989, two strangers, a young woman in Detroit and a young man in Chicago, connect when their phone lines unexpectedly cross. Rather than hanging up, something sparks them to continue the conversation. Both are searching for meaning and answers in their own lives; they forge a connection that gives them each the will to transform what’s been haunting them. With their lives going in different directions and long-distance an obstacle to a lasting commitment, they decide to meet in an unusual way for one day. The fleeting encounter will change their lives forever.

Perhaps what will make Him & Her stand out among all other films is that Callan and Cristina filmed the entire movie not knowing who the other actor was. The first time they found out was at the film’s premiere.

5 questions we have for The Walking Dead Season 11B. dark. Next

What do you think Alden’s fate will be on The Walking Dead? Comment your answers below!

The Walking Dead Season 11 returns February 20, 2022.