For actress Sarah Wayne Callies, there is life after The Walking Dead, but sometimes it can be just as dangerous as fighting zombies. The Prison Break actress stars in a new series, Colony, where she fights against an alien dictatorship while juggling kids, family, and, oh yes, a husband who’s been drafted into fighting the very rebel group she’s joined. That can get a little tricky.
Suffice it to say that Callies is having some serious husband/wife relationship issues in Colony as she did on The Walking Dead, and finding a whole new war for survival. Callies sat down for media conference call to discuss Colony, which wraps its rookie season tonight in the season finale on USA Network. But never fear, if you haven’t checked out the show yet, it’s coming back for a second season, so set your DVRs and get ready to binge Season 1.
As Katie, Callies and the “Resistance” might bear some mild resemblance to The Walking Dead gang that’s fighting to stay alive in the zombie apocalypse, but Callies feels the challenges her character faces reside in worlds that are more polar opposites in their social structure.
“Colony isn’t about a society rebuilding. The society is built and it’s fully articulated and it’s a dictatorship. It’s a hyper-organized state with massive amounts of flaws and oversight. Whereas, The Walking Dead is a world of anarchy and of chaos and a world in which people are trying to move on. I don’t know the extent to which there’s any rebuilding insofar as I don’t know that there’s anyone who’s organizing people into, like, a police force… And by that, I think it seems to be more of a kind of survival thing. So I think one is a story of anarchy and the other is a story of dictatorship.”
One thing that hasn’t changed for Callies in her leap from The Walking Dead to Colony is the rather rocky relationships both characters have with their husbands. In The Walking Dead, Callies played Lori, who thought her husband, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), had died in the initial zombie outbreak, and started a relationship with his best friend, Shane (Jon Bernthal). Then she was reunited with Rick, resulting in a love triangle most soap operas would envy. Oopsy.
On Colony, Katie starts out with a very minor role in the Resistance against the alien invaders, which she keeps secret from her husband, Will (Josh Holloway). But things get a bit complicated when Will becomes an innocent bystander in a terrorist attack, and finds himself pushed into taking his skills as a former Army Ranger and putting them to use with the invader sympathizers, or “Collaborators.” That leaves Will hunting down a group that includes his wife, unbeknownst to him. Double oopsy.
In watching Colony so far, one of the big questions that runs through many fans’ minds is why not just tell Will what’s going on? And why hasn’t Katie told him even before he was recruited to be a Collaborator?
“[F]irst of all, I don’t think Katie wasn’t very significantly involved with the Resistance until Will was forced into collaboration. You know, I think these were people in her orbit. I think… she might have taken a flyer from here to there, but she was not neck deep with them. And I think she makes the decision to join their work fully as a response to Will’s forced collaboration. And it’s partly as a means to protect him, but also… just thinking, I can’t stomach the thought of being a collaborating family. That’s just sort of more than I can take.”
Callies noted that her feelings Katie is partly motivated to keep her secret out of concerns for Will’s safety were confirmed by the real-life experiences from director Juan Campanella, who grew up in Argentina under a real dictatorship. One of the things that Campanella talked about with Callies and the other actors was the mindset of living under those conditions and knowing that people simply disappear all the time. By not telling Will what was going on, it gave him “plausible deniability” in case he was ever questioned about Katie’s activities.
“Katie would never want to put him in a position of having to withhold information that could kill him.”
That makes one big burden to bear, although it’s been getting harder for Katie to keep the secret throughout the season. Callies, who is happily married with children, didn’t comment directly on whether she could keep such a big secret from her own husband in real life, but her and another Colony director definitely noted some people might get a little uncomfortable with how well Katie pulls it off.
“I will say that Nelson McCormick, who directed Episode 6, came to me at a certain point during the filming and he said, ‘I don’t think your husband should watch this episode.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘No man wants to know his wife can lie this well.’ And that gave me something to think about.”
Hey, he married an actress, so he has to know there’s always that possibility. The season finale of Colony airs tonight on USA Network at 10 p.m. ET.