The Walking Dead celebrates 10 years of TV history on October 31, 2020. In celebration of this historic milestone, we I nterviewed several actors who have participated in the show over the years. These interviews started to be published in early September and run until the end of October, are being launched daily. When we will end with a big surprise that we prepared exclusively and with great affection for the fans.
Our guest today is Daniel Bonjour, who played Aiden Monroe during season 5. The actor told us about how Aiden felt with the arrival of Rick’s group, about what it was like to shoot the scene of his character’s death, about working with Steven Yeun (Glenn), about his participation in iZombie and much more!
Without further ado, check out our exclusive interview with Daniel Bonjour:
It’s an honour for us to talk to you in such a special moment for The Walking Dead. It’s not just any show that get to its 10th anniversary. Can you start by telling us how was the audition for the show? How did you hear about the part? Did you know the show beforehand?
Daniel Bonjour: I was actually on my honeymoon in Cambodia when I got the call to audition. I initially turned down the audition because I didn’t even have a strong enough signal to upload a video, but the casting directors really thought I’d be right for the part, so they gave me some extra time. We arrived at a new hotel with better service and I taped my audition, thinking nothing of it. A few days later we flew to Thailand, and when we landed, I was bombarded with voicemails, texts, even facebook messages from my manager, that I booked the role. We spent a few more days on the Honeymoon, and then I had to fly to Atlanta and drove directly to set from the airport – reading the script on the plane.
I was definitely a big fan of the show beforehand, which made the whole experience very surreal.
We found out you had to put an early end to your honeymoon to play Aiden and that was also one of the reasons your character died in the episode “Spend”. Were there different plans for him? Can you talk about how it all worked out?
Daniel Bonjour: They were very upfront when I got the role that Aiden would be short lived and killed, but they also said it would be an impactful death. The whole battle between the Alexandrians really started because of Aiden’s death. While we were filming, the producers came to me and said they really loved the character and were trying to figure out ways to keep him around, but ultimately, they needed an impactful death to ignite the fuse that would ultimately topple Alexandria.
The first time you appeared on screen your character seemed not to take seriously all the post-apocalyptic world dangers. Why do you think he saw the world like that? Do you think he was mature enough to survive the apocalypse?
Daniel Bonjour: I think Aiden was simply a product of circumstance. He was fortunate enough to have been apart of a community that quickly built up walls and created a safe space, so in his mind, the threat was never as real as it was for someone like Glenn. He felt that ROTC training made him invincible. There was a sense of entitlement that made him oblivious to the outside world.
How do you think Aiden felt with the arrival of Rick’s group in Alexandria? Do you think he felt diminished somehow in his ranger position because he wasn’t as experienced as them?
Daniel Bonjour: I think he was definitely threatened. His role suddenly was challenged as the most experienced soldier and he was a little afraid that he would be exposed as less than qualified. Change is always hard, and Aiden wasn’t ready for it.
Aiden’s death is visually shocking! How was the process of make-up and costume for that scene? How and when did you find out Aiden was about to die?
Daniel Bonjour: I “officially” found out when Scott Gimple called me to let me know. They take character deaths very seriously on the show and it’s a heartbreaking process. Everyone on set was extremely kind. It felt like a break-up in a way. The death scene was very intense. All the effects were in camera. I had to wear a full body suit that was filled with fake blood and guts and when I was being eaten alive, they were literally ripping open a prosthetic stomach and tearing out whatever guts were placed inside. It was an intense experience.
Another great moment happens when he confronts Glenn and ends up being punched. How was it to work with Steven Yeun? How did you two prepare for this scene?
Daniel Bonjour: That was actually my first scene of the whole show! I knew nobody at the time, so it was a little intimidating to walk on set and all of a sudden pick a fight. Steven was extremely nice and welcoming. We actually didn’t talk about the scene at all before hand. Of course, we worked out the punch very carefully, but what ended up on screen was very instinctual and raw.
You and Michael Traynor developed a great friendship, at least is what we can tell by the behind the cameras pictures and conventions/reunions. How do you think Aiden felt when he was abandoned by Nicholas? What good memories do you have of working with Michael?
Daniel Bonjour: Michael is a great friend still today. Him Ross Marquand and I all joined the show around the same time, so we had lots of fond memories bonding as the new guys on set. We were all very excited about it all, so it was great to share that experience.
I think Aiden felt like he deserved it in the end. He very much made a full circle realization in that moment of desperation. While I’m sure he would have loved to have been saved, I think ultimately Aiden doesn’t hold it against him.
Aiden was a character created especially for the show, differently from many other characters that come from the comics. Did you read the comics to have an idea of where the story was going or did you keep it on the scripts? And you, as a fan, would rather see the story being told exactly the same way as in the comics or do you like to see some new stories mixed in?
Daniel Bonjour: I read some of the comics, but didn’t have time to dive in fully, so I had to depend on the scripts. But even then, the show was so secretive at the time, that I had very little information to work with. Most of it I had to create in my imagination. I think the show is an interpretation of the comics, and in any interpretation, you want to see something new, otherwise what’s the point? The comics exists as their own medium, and the show is simply letting those themes and characters breathe in their own world.
Do you remember your first day on the set? What about your last one? We’d love if you could share some details of your reception and farewell on the show!
Daniel Bonjour: My first day, I was introduced to Andy and he immediately walked me around set introducing me to everyone, and eventually he asked me who I was playing. He didn’t even know who I was, and he was so kind – it was almost a shock. I thought I was being pranked, everyone was so insanely nice.
My last day was my death scene, so I was covered in blood and it really felt fitting. A bunch of the other actors showed up to set and Steven gave a really touching speech. It was also Tyler’s last day, so I think I got to piggyback off of his farewells as well, but it was still very touching.
If Aiden had survived longer on the show, with which characters would you like him to interact with? Is there any actor you’d like to have worked with more closely during your time on the show?
Daniel Bonjour: I was so happy to have worked with Steven so much – he really made the whole experience what it was. It would have been great to work with Andy, but I think ultimately, Glenn and Aiden were a perfect duo. In all honesty, Aiden would have just gotten on everyone’s nerves – but in a really fun way, so I would have loved to see that play out. To see how many enemies he could pile up.
You’ve been in many other shows, playing different kinds of characters. If you could choose one of them to be a survivor on The Walking Dead – either on the good side or the bad side – which character would you choose and why?
Daniel Bonjour: That’s an interesting question. Funny enough – on iZombie, I played a documentary film maker. It would have been great to see what kind of documentary would come out of Walking Dead.
Talking about a zombie apocalypse… What would Daniel have in his survival kit? Choose 5 indispensable items! Would you be more of a community survivor or a lone wolf?
Daniel Bonjour: I would start a village inside of a Costco – haha. 5 items? I would say a sword of some kind, A journal, A bag of seeds for when I finally find a home. A lighter. And hand sanitizer – cuz, you know… COVID.
I’d probably have been a lone wolf at first, but then would be desperately seeking a place to call home.
Curiously, you’ve been part of another living dead production: iZombie. Can you talk about how it was to bring the zombie Levon Patch “to life”? What are your best memories of working with Rose McIver?
Daniel Bonjour: iZombie was a totally 360 to Walking Dead. The cast was just as great, but it’s a different genre completely. It was fun to make light of the genre, and Rose is an absolute charm of a person. The set was always filled with laughs. They really made me feel at home on iZombie.
We know the pandemic postponed a lot of projects and The Walking Dead fans are still suffering for the season finale. How did it affect you? Were any of your projects postponed? How have you been taking care of yourself?
Daniel Bonjour: It 100% affected me. I had one job cancelled because of it. Not a big job thankfully, but still… I’ve been writing a script during the pandemic and working with some producers to hopefully bring it to the big screen. It’s definitely been a challenge being out of work for so long. Our industry is so tough to begin with – you’re always crossing fingers for the next job, and this has just made it that much more stressful. But it’s the world we live in right now, so I know there are a lot of people going through the exact same thing. I just hope we all come out of this stronger and a better version of ourselves in some way.
To wrap it up: here in Brazil we are particularly fond of The Walking Dead and all of its cast and crew, past and present. Brazilian fans are very passionate! Does this love get to you somehow, through conventions or social networks? Can you send a message to your Brazilian fans?
Daniel Bonjour: I am terrible when it comes to keeping up with Social media, but I do truly appreciate all the messages and love that I get online. I try to message people back, but sometimes I’m very slow at it. But please, never hesitate to reach out – I’m always reading messages. I think it’s fans like the ones in Brazil that take the experience of being on the Walking Dead to a whole other level. To see that something I was lucky enough to be a part of impact people in such a powerful way really is a dream come true. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.