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 Kelley Mack, who played Addy during season 9. The actress told us about the shooting of the iconic stake scene, about the atmosphere on the Hilltop and the Kingdom, about the importance of The Walking Dead in her career and much more.
Without further ado, check out our exclusive interview with Kelley Mack:
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?
Kelley Mack: It was like auditioning for any other role, really! My agent got a request from the casting director for me to self tape, I sent in my audition, and then a week later, I was asked to read the same scene again, but with a different character description. Then, my agent called me a week after that saying I was their pick for the role, but that they wanted me to send over my demo reel. So I sent it over, and then later that day, I was booked! I flew to Atlanta that night and had my fitting the very next day, on my birthday! I did know about the show beforehand because, well, so did everyone. It also used to be my sister’s favorite show so I had seen some episodes with her.
Tell us a bit about you! We know you’re from Ohio, but how did you end up on The Walking Dead? When did you decide to become an actress?
Kelley Mack: My mom would say I was meant to be an actress ever since I was a little girl because I loved making people laugh and observing others. Acting felt quite innate to me, but I used to be very shy, so the biggest obstacle to me pursuing acting for real was my own self consciousness. Once I decided to work through that and go for it, I knew acting was for me. I just love being able to make someone feel connected to a character, forget about their own struggles for a moment, and/or remind them of what they’re grateful to have in their life.
Addy was a Hilltop survivor who had a group of young friends, but she died a victim of Alpha’s stakes. How did you hear about your character’s death? How did you prepare for it and how is it to shoot your own death scene?
Kelley Mack: I received a phone call from a producer while I was on set filming a prior episode. I was hanging out with Joe and Jackson when I picked up and they said “Hi Kelley! We’d like to schedule your head cast.” It was definitely a shocker, but I also figured my character wouldn’t be around for very long since I was originally only supposed to be in two episodes. Filming my head on a spike, as a zombie, and doing the head cast – it was all a very strange, yet exciting new experience. I was really just soaking up every moment & being so present because I knew it was my last time on the set of this amazing show.
We know nothing about Addy’s past. When you played her, did you come up with some backstory or it wasn’t as important? Did the writers tell you anything about her to help you?
Kelley Mack: Yes, absolutely. I love that part of the acting process. The minor backstory details they gave me and that I expanded on didn’t really come into play, plot-wise. They just informed my decisions regarding Addy’s demeanor, unfulfilled hopes she might daydream about, perspective on other characters, etc. The writers told me she would have been a band dork and the debate team captain, that she was tomboy tough, nearly blind without her glasses, and was fascinated by marine biology. I did quite a bit of marine biology research actually, haha – it would’ve been cool to explore that.
Looking back at your time on the show, which one would you say was the most fun episode to shoot? What about the most challenging? Why?
Kelley Mack: I’d say the most thrilling episode to shoot was “Evolution” – being in character with the other actors for the first time was nerve-wracking and so exciting at the same time. I got to spend the most time on set that episode and get to know the cast and crew. It was such a great set to be on – so well done and realistic. I also have to say “Chokepoint” because getting to kill a walker was so sick. I love action scenes. The most challenging was definitely “The Calm Before” – I had never done a head cast or worn contacts before, it was freezing during the exterior night shoots, and it was very emotional for everyone because of so many character deaths. I’ll never forget it.
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!
Kelley Mack: The first day was wonderful! I had such a small scene in my first episode, so I felt like I was able to take it all in, really observe, and just introduce myself to everyone without any pressure. When I saw “Welcome to the family” in the first email from production after booking the role, I immediately felt at home, and that attitude really translated on set as well, throughout the entire process. The last day was a big shoot day for many actors, some who’d been on the show for years. It was very emotional; a huge group of the cast & crew were standing in a circle after finishing the barn scene, and we went around the circle saying our goodbyes. I’m grateful to have been part of that.
The Walking Dead is packed with experienced actors and I think some of them might have shared some tips with you. Who was most supportive of you on the set?
Kelley Mack: I wouldn’t say anyone shared “tips” with me, but I learn mostly from observation. It was really informative just watching a crew that has been working well together for so long do their thing, especially the camera team. I studied cinematography in school, so I always end up chatting with those guys on set. I felt very supported by the writers and directors, especially Michael E. Satrazemis, who directed “Evolution”. He was very involved with the acting side of things and was also so upbeat throughout the long days. He was a joy to work with.
If Addy had survived longer on the show, with which characters would you like her to interact with? Is there any actor you’d like to have worked with more closely during your time on the show?
Kelley Mack: I would’ve loved Addy to interact with Lydia more. If they could’ve had some time to talk it out and understand each other, I think they could’ve been great friends. Addy was one of the few females at Hilltop, so I think she would’ve liked to have a friend, even if it meant she couldn’t find love quite yet (with Henry). Personally, I would’ve loved to work with Katelyn Nacon more, or with Cooper Andrews. Katelyn was so kind and very focused on her work, and the times I hung out with Cooper were full of laughter. He’s just such a bright light and those are wonderful kinds of people to be around.
Talking about a zombie apocalypse… What would Kelley Mack have in her survival kit? Choose 5 indispensable items! Would you be more of a community survivor or a lone wolf?
Kelley Mack: Oh god. I would be a community survivor. I’m scared of bugs and the dark, soooo it would be helpful to have some people around who aren’t, lol. Five indispensable items? A very good lighter, a life straw, a knife, a space blanket, and my fully charged cell phone!?
If you could choose any scene in The Walking Dead to be a part of, which one would you choose? And which character would you play on this scene?
Kelley Mack: I mean, it would be so cool to play the hero, riding a horse, toward an apocalyptic city. That scene from the first episode was obviously so memorable, epic, and just visually stunning.
What are your favourite Hilltop memories? Did you get to visit the other communities on the set?
Kelley Mack: Arriving at the Hilltop set for the first time was extremely memorable. All the crops, the smell of food cooking, the huge crew working everywhere; it felt like a real town. I also filmed at The Kingdom, of course, which was another beautifully constructed set. So much detail goes into every aspect of this show.
Now, about The Walking Dead ending: I don’t know if you continued to follow the show after leaving it, but we’d like to know how you think the show should end.
Kelley Mack: I’ve followed it a bit since I left the show just to watch the other actors at work and try to learn more by observation. It was actually just announced that the show is ending after season 11 (apart from spin-offs), so I’m curious to see what they do with it! I have no idea. I didn’t know what was going to happen with my character until right before every episode because it’s all so secretive.
Can you estimate how important being on The Walking Dead was for your career? What opportunities do you think can come from it? What are your next steps as an actress?
Kelley Mack: Extremely important, for sure. This was my first cable television role, and it was a dream come true. TWD was my sister’s favorite show, so it was a very emotional moment when I found out I was cast. I am so grateful to have been able to stay on the show for several episodes longer than anticipated as well; that has helped solidify my resume more for future potential jobs. I recently shot a few features that will be coming out either late this year or next year, and I’m really excited about both of those, particularly Broadcast Signal Intrusion. It’s a technological thriller inspired by real broadcast hackings that occurred in Chicago in the late 80s. That character was very different from Addy, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it turns out.
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?
Kelley Mack: The pandemic has definitely been tough for work, as productions have been paused or cancelled, as with most industries. Thankfully, I wasn’t on a project when it hit, so there wasn’t a specific job that I lost. But I’ve honestly been grateful for the extra time I’ve been able to spend with loved ones and really take stock of the important things in life. I’ve also been getting outdoors a lot & eating a good amount of chocolate… 🙂
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?
Kelley Mack: I see the love ALL THE TIME! You all are so amazing and truly make everyone involved in TWD feel like they’re part of this gigantic, crazy, loving family. I enjoy connecting with fans on social media (IG and Twitter) and it warms my heart so much every time I receive fan mail. To the Brazilian fans – You’re just the best!! You have SO much passion and love to share! Thank you!