Alicia Witt Discusses Her Villainous Role on ‘The Walking Dead’
Paula was gone as quickly as she arrived, but she already sits among some of the most compelling villains to come along on AMC’s hit show.
If you’re all caught up, then you have met Paula (Alicia Witt) from the Saviors. You know she took Carol and Maggie hostage…and lived to regret it. Her death, while it may not be the most grotesque of the series, is pretty unforgettable.
Witt spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her powerful, albeit brief role on the zombie-filled drama, how she landed the role and how it felt to play the talkative, realized antagonist.
“And it all came up because [showrunner] Scott Gimple had reached out to me on Twitter,” she said. “He heard a podcast that I was on randomly talking about my music, and he reached out to me and said he had heard it, and I was like, ‘Wow, that’s lovely, because I’m a massive fan of yours!’ And a week later, this audition came in for a part that wasn’t Paula. It was a woman who was doing a bank robbery, and it had nothing to do with the apocalypse, or zombies, or anything.”
The very next night, she discovered she was flying out to Georgia to shoot and she still had no idea what the role was! “So I was literally boarding the plane, and I get this script, and not only is it just a kickass part, but it’s opposite my favorite actor on the show, Melissa (McBride), and I’m just so glad I got that opportunity. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life.”
Unlike most roles, in which their background is slowly revealed, Paula’s sad tale comes almost all at once, from Paula herself. Witt explained that all that characterization was helpful but also troubling.
“I found it a very difficult character to shake at the end of the days because, as you said, it’s me just rambling on, and on, and on in every scene. So I’d finish a very intense day of work, come home, get some takeout Thai, and hunker down in my bed, and work on the scenes for next day, and wake up at 5 a.m., and repeat, you know?”
Throughout the episode, Paula and Carol bond in some uncomfortable ways that shed light on the types of survivors that emerge in this apocalyptic world. Yes, Paula has a lot to say during her brief tenure on the show, but all of her explaining cannot compete with the compassion that the show’s main characters offer.
“I think that she doesn’t feel very much as a rule though. It’s like the big difference and why we root for Rick and company on the show and why there’s so much humanity in this dark situation, is because of the group that he’s assembled. They do have massive hearts, and they do care, and they don’t want to kill other people, and I think Paula processed the loss of her husband and her four girls as ‘Fuck the world. I’m going to go show them what I’m really made of, because I’ve got nothing left.'”