Fear TWD’s Kim Dickens and Jenna Elfman Praise the Finale and Past Cast Members
Talking to CBR, Fear the Walking Dead’s, Kim Dickens and Jenna Elfman discuss the end of a journey and hypothetical character resurrections.
The following contains spoilers for Fear the Walking Dead Season 8, Episode 12, “The Road Ahead,” which debuted Sunday, Nov. 19 on AMC.
Madison Clark and June Dorie have been staples of Fear the Walking Dead for as long as anyone can remember. Kim Dickens’ Madison was the woman who started it all as the first female protagonist of The Walking Dead universe. Her transformation from a well-balanced guidance counselor to a brutal survivor driven by love for her children is unlike any other in this franchise. Likewise, Jenna Elfman’s June has spiraled from several losses since her introduction in Season 4, creating a tragic narrative about grief and acceptance.
Ending these characters’ journeys on a high note was no easy task, as Season 8 proved to be the toughest venture these women would experience. But Madison was reunited with her daughter Alicia, and June finally accepted another person into her life. Dickens and Elfman spoke with CBR about the finale’s emotionally fulfilling moments for their characters and praised former cast member Cliff Curtis for his dynamic portrayal of Travis Manawa in the first three seasons.
CBR: Congrats on the finale! How are you feeling about the show finally coming to an end?
Jenna Elfman: I defer to Kim on this. This is a big deal and a “Kim question.”
Kim Dickens: It was quite a journey. So it’s kind of the end. It’s a huge chapter closing and feels like the end of an era. I’m so proud of the show for going eight seasons. I think that’s incredible. I’m so impressed. I was always impressed with the storytelling all along. I was so proud to be a part of it and to be able to come back and help close it out. It was just an honor to me, and it felt like a real gift. Leaving the show for me, I thought it was premature. But that’s the nature of this genre. For them to have the vision for me to come back and for it to work out, I thought it was brilliant storytelling. It felt right. It felt right to come back and close it out. And it was like going to a whole new show. There were so many new characters. Some I’d worked with ,like Jenna, but some I hadn’t. I was just like, “Hey, I’m just going to show up as this character in this franchise.” It’s like a new show. Honestly, it was a real gift to be able to come and close it out with everybody.
Jenna, how do you feel? You’ve been on this show for half the series.
Elfman: I think to get to do five seasons on a show in this day and age is a super gift. It is a very rare occurrence. It’s bittersweet because I really did enjoy going through the journey of June, where she started, and everything she went through. I really enjoyed all those transitional moments. As in life, we hit traumas, it changes us, and depending on how much support or not we have, we move through, or we stick. I loved exploring that. So it was bittersweet. I didn’t want to come in for dinner after playing outside and having fun with my friends. Do you know what I mean? That’s what it felt like. I felt like, “Nope, gotta come in for dinner. It’s over.” I don’t take the opportunity to work as an actor for granted.
Kim, you’ve already touched on this, but you said goodbye to this character before in Season 4. What was different about saying goodbye this time around?
Dickens: That’s a really good question. This time around, it felt like it was earned, and therefore, [it] resonated in a different way. When I left in Season 4, there was some shock for me. There was disappointment. There was hurt. There was anger. We won’t go into that anymore, but coming back this time, it just felt like, “Wow.” It really is something. I got to run the gamut with these characters, with these other actors, and really sink our teeth into things and put blood, sweat, and tears literally on a daily basis. It’s a tough show. It’s just as rewarding as it is tough. It’s also just as fun. [On] the last night — I think we were all there — in the end, it was just our producing director Michael Satrazemas talking, and then I was crying. The only other time I’ve cried on this show is when I didn’t get my turnaround, and I was just like a mess at the end of it. Turnaround is when you’re sort of forced, and you don’t get to get your rest break at night and stuff like that.
Jenna, June has gone through a journey of loss, which most characters have experienced. How does June bringing Dove under her wing and going back to Texas bring her story full circle?
Elfman: It has to do with that redemption and what caring for another person will do for oneself. Sometimes, we need that reassurance. We’re not built-in perfect mechanisms. We need each other. We’re not just solo machines that can function and rebuild. I love that storytelling, where we have to lean into each other in such a charged setting as the apocalypse. We’ve been through trust issues, trusting ourselves when we’re forced to do things that are against our own morality. They were the right thing, but are they? It all starts to be this house of cards that falls if you don’t lean on each other. If you don’t let other people help you and let other people believe in you and permit yourself to believe in yourself, you will become a heartless machine. For me, it was how John Dorie did that for June and pulled her out. Dove trusting June and June letting Dove trust her goes back full circle. That’s where the redemption for June happened. I love that John Dorie healed June, and now, Dove helped her heal. I like that as a storyline.
On a similar note, Kim, Madison has always been an imperfect woman. She’s always grappling with her morality, but her kids were her rock. They were the one thing that grounded her. How do you feel about bringing Alicia back into the fold and having her be Madison’s rock again?
Dickens: I couldn’t have asked for anything better. As a way to ride off into the sunset, I couldn’t have had a better sidekick. Madison was always imperfect, for sure. I think her moral compass started to spin out of control very quickly. I think her instincts were always to save those kids and give them a better life, a life she didn’t have, as we came to discover in Season 3. Finding out about what happened to Nick, having his ashes, and starting to have those visions of her daughter was a way of getting her motivated. She chooses to repeat what she did before and sacrifice herself entirely. She knows that she’s not capable of leading anyone, that she gets in her own way, and that she’ll forever get in the way, no matter what her intentions are. That last sacrifice that leads her to her daughter is such a poignant, beautiful moment that sort of underlines just trusting the journey. I think the tables turn in the end. Alicia is the leader. She’s a true example of the resilience of spirit. It was a really beautiful, poetic way to end the show.
It really was. And as you both know, the show had a revolving door of cast members over the years. So many have come and gone since Season 1. If you could bring back any deceased character for the finale, whether it be to have them live until the end or just in a flashback, who would you choose?
Elfman: I loved Cliff Curtis from what I was watching when I got the job. I was watching the first three seasons, and he just exudes humanity. He gives it in abundance. It allows you to really connect to your own humanity. I felt like he was gone too soon because he was such a great component with [Kim] and the family unit. He was such a beautiful, loving… Anyway, I loved watching you guys together and that it was never a perfect unit. But there was the love that you had both created with your children.
Dickens: Initially, I was going to say my baby Frank [Dillane]. I had some ideas that I shared with Ian [Goldberg] and Andrew [Chambliss] going into this final season where perhaps Madison dreams of Nick. I was hoping that he could come back because I’ve had that experience of losing people and having them show up in my dreams, as I’m sure a lot of people have. But that was just an idea. But now that Jenna said that, I think I want Cliff back too. He was a darling. He was a dream, and he really was like such a gorgeous man inside and out, like a gentleman and an artist. He just cared about all of us, and he really looked after all of us.
He traveled with his own tribe. He’ll tell you. He has a gorgeous, beautiful, loving wife, their kids, and his mother-in-law and his family. He’s just that man. He was so hard on himself at times. And then the lines would come out, and I was like, “It’s like Shakespeare! Why are you so hard on yourself?” I said he was my Polynesian Elvis. He looked like Elvis and Cary Grant all at once. I could watch him all day and also work with him all day. I’m sorry [Jenna and Cliff] didn’t get to cross paths because he was a gem. Thank you for shifting my perspective.