‘Tales of The Walking Dead’: Danny Ramirez breaks down the haunting ‘La Doña’

Danny Ramirez has had a crazy year. To play the role of Fanboy in Top Gun: Maverickat Netflix Look both ways with Lili Reinhart, at the news that he will join the cast of the next Marvel film Captain America: New World Order, the 30-year-old actor has never been in such demand. And in between all those projects, he managed to sneak into a standout episode of AMC. Tales of the Living Deadtitled « La Doña ».

« It started with two people in the house, » Ramirez told Decider of why he chose the role. « I think exploring that and being able to act is really what made me want to do that. I had also just shot Claire Denis The stars at noon maybe a month before. And so I was really hungry to cast, and as a Latino, I feel like I have a different responsibility when it comes to different genres and different areas that I’m about to play in.

In the episode, Ramirez stars as Eric, a starving and frozen post-apocalypse survivor with his girlfriend Idalia, played by cowboy bebopIt’s Daniella Pineda. On the brink of death, they head to a house inhabited by La Doña Alma (Julie Carmen), a woman they claim to know, but clearly don’t. She has running water, plenty of food, and basically everything Eric and Idalia would need to survive the harsh winter. Spoilers past this point, but through a series of events, Eric essentially kills La Doña. But as the couple occupy their home, it appears that she may be dead, but her spirit remained.

It’s a surprising twist to kick off a ghost story in the zombie-filled universe of The Walking Dead (it’s up to the viewer to determine if the ghosts are real, or if Eric and Idalia are losing their minds), but that’s the whole point of Tales: to shake up everything you know about TWD. For more on directing the episode, why performance in front of and behind the camera was so important to Ramirez, and which of his acting buddies he would take along in the zombie apocalypse, read on.

Decision Maker: You’ve had such a busy year with Top Gun, look both ways, you have Captain America 4 to come… Why Walking Dead in the middle here?

Danny Ramirez: It all started with two people in the house. I think exploring that and being able to play that is really what made me want to do that. I had also just shot Claire Denis The stars at noon maybe a month before. And so I was really hungry to cast, and being Latino, there’s a different responsibility that I feel like I have in terms of the different genres and different areas that I’m about to play in . I hold it, that responsibility, pretty high… Whatever it is, if I’m able to flex the acting muscle and work it and experience it – it’s something I absolutely have to do . And then, just, it’s really exciting to have an episode with all the Latinx from La Doña, to Idalia, Eric, Lindsey [Villarreal] the writer. And so, it felt like a huge representational opportunity, and also fair, to throw a gauntlet at two characters from an episode.

Like you say, other than the bird, it’s pretty much a two-way match between you and Daniella Pineda. What was it like developing this increasingly strained relationship with her over the course of the episode?

It was interesting. We basically shot in eleven days. Daniella and I met on the day of filming. And so, knowing that was the circumstance, it’s sort of a game, especially as we start to warm up to each other, really what the reality was. It’s like, well, there’s distance here because we don’t know each other. And then being able to play with distance early on, because it’s a real texture that’s in us, leaning into that as we get to know each other helped jump into the pool. And once we were there and we were like, « Oh okay, day two, » then we started bringing in the different layers, trying to figure out where we were at as our relationship started to unravel. to do.

I thought it was a really fascinating and toxic relationship to be a part of, even the words Lindsey used in her writings to say whether or not which side was true – the real, grounded like the hyper-rational side of ‘Eric, the objective side of reality that he thinks is happening is the right one. He still wasn’t holding his partner by any semblance of imagination in a way he should have. … It was fascinating to think, “Okay, they’re getting what they’ve wanted most for so long, which is the security of the house,” and that security is actually what allows the relationship to really go out.

Daniella Pineda as Idalia, Danny Ramirez as Eric - Tales of the Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC
Photo: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC

I would love to hear you talk about working with Julie Carmen, even though she is briefly part of this episode.

Working with Julie Carmen was just… What I remember the most is how unreal her career is. She gave the real real of what it was in this industry when she arrived, to what it is now. And the different battles she had to go through to continue her association at work were just different, and it was really inspiring to see how hugely successful it was. She was like, « This is probably one of the first times I’ve been on a set where everyone’s Latino or Latinx, » and so to be such a massive percentage in a massive universe, it was like we Handing us the keys to a really nice car. It was just fun to see her light up and say, « That’s a huge step. » For me, that was one of the most perspective-changing things, that Julie was basically able to tell us how important it was.

Particularly in the final act, he continues to alternate between Eric having visions and Idalia having visions, each insisting the other is going insane. Do you have a definitive opinion on what you think is going on, or does it ultimately not matter, and it depends on what the viewer gets out of it?

No I do not know. I played the ending with both things being true in different takes. American psycho, there’s this scene and it’s Christian Bale having dinner, and I think the three ways that were played were against Christian, it was Willem Dafoe. So Willem’s character, he’s basically in one take he’s suspicious, in another he’s really on his side, and those are intertwined in how the conversation unfolds. It gives it a different tension like, « Wait what? » And so, I wanted to play with that… Eric’s ending is… It happens in the same place as the audience is like, « What? » ‘Cause I think that’s the idea of ​​relationships, [they do] twist both realities into this thing that looks like « What’s going on? »

Here’s my theory just to throw it at you: gas leak. I think there’s been a gas leak in the house and they’re both going a little crazy from the gas. Do you think it’s possible?

Oh interesting, that’s cool. I didn’t even think about it, yeah. Well, La Doña, does she know about this gas leak or…?

I mean, it doesn’t work, my theory. But the whole time I was trying to figure it out because you’re bringing ghosts into a zombie world, so as a fan of the franchise, it’s interesting to think about.

There are ghosts in this world right now, in our world, aren’t there? We have the concept of ghosts, and a lot of people seem to see them or not. What fascinates me is that after years of surviving and on the road and the psychological toll that takes, when you finally have some peace, how does this trauma and the PTSD that you just went through, how does this does it show up the first time you are in a place of stillness? Because if you continue down the road and still fight for your life, there’s less room for what you’ve done to settle. When you finally take a break and take a break, all the ghosts pop up. Any people you killed or things you saw come to the surface. While you are still on the road and walking, the action of moving forward helps suppress your actions.

The last for you, because I have to let you go in a second. If you could choose a post-apocalypse buddy to survive zombies with, would you choose Tom Cruise, Anthony Mackie, or Lili Reinhart?

Wow. I think… No, it’s interesting. Post-apocalyptic?

Yeah, like you’re in the world of Walking Dead and you can choose a person to travel with and kill zombies.

So in the world of Walking Dead, there are still a lot of people in this rush, aren’t there?

Yeah, I’m not necessarily saying that, you choose Tom Cruise, and Anthony Mackie and Lili Reinhart are dead. It’s just that you picked one to say, « This is the person I’m going to hang out with and kill zombies. »

Well, if we’re going to kill zombies, I think I’d choose Tom Cruise, when you put it that way. I would choose Tom because he does. He does it Direct. He shoots almost everything. And so, I think he’s had the experience of having high octane, things that he’s done, so he’s able to stay calm in there, in order to perform at such a level raised. So I think if it’s us versus 150 zombies, he’ll reach a flow state that I’d like to see. So even if he is the one who kills all the zombies, he would put all the tools he has acquired into his profession, into his career, and it would be unreal how well he is able to kill zombies.

This is the plot of Top Gun 3do you go out and kill zombies.

[Laughs] Yeah, we crash-land in a place where the zombie apocalypse began.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Tales of the Living Dead is now streaming on AMC+.


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