The Walking Dead Interview: IronE Singleton (T-Dog) Fighting Zombies in 120 Degrees

Left to right: Norman Reedus, IronE Singleton, Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun

Left to right: Norman Reedus, IronE Singleton, Andrew Lincoln, Steven Yeun

“Guts,” the second episode of the television adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s comic book The Walking Dead, airs tonight on AMC. Episode one, “Days Gone By” netted 5.7 million viewers, the highest for any original cable TV series this year and the highest ratings of any kind AMC has ever seen. I was lucky enough to have already seen the second episode, and it gets good! “Guts” introduces you to a lot more characters, some from the comic book and some that are completely new. One of those new characters is a fellow named T-Dog, played by the actor Robert “IronE” Singleton. He was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions.

AFC: I’ve seen the second episode, which is your first episode on the show, but it hasn’t aired yet so we’ll avoid going into any real spoilers. I’ll just say this about your character: You were being generous. I’d have dropped the key and laughed instead of trying to help.

Iron E: Most people would in that situation – okay, I’ll stop there, hahaha.

AFC: So tell us about T-Dog, your character on the show.
 
IronE: The Walking Dead Information Archive sums up T-Dog wonderfully.

IronE Singleton as T-Dog.

Archive description: Although T-Dog appears young and brash, almost reckless, beneath the surface is a deeply honorable man who would never run from his responsibilities. Proud of who he is, T-Dog will stand up for himself and take on anyone who isn’t above fighting dirty, rather than fighting back. He is devoted to his fellow survivors and always among the first to jump in and help the rest of the group. More even tempered than not, T-Dog puts on a brave face when terrified.

IronE: Also, to allude back to your ‘dropped the key’ comment: Purposely dropping the key would contradict T-Dog’s character…and mine. I’m optimistic enough to believe that most people would not drop the key, but in the heat of the moment you never know.

AFC: T-Dog is one of a number of the TV show’s original characters that don’t appear in the comic book. Did that make it harder for you because you didn’t have the background information to draw on or was it easier because you had greater freedom to do your own thing?

IronE:The less knowledge I had gave me more freedom to create T-Dog as I saw fit. Although it would have been great to get cast as one of Robert Kirkman’s beautifully, well-rounded comic book characters, it was great to do what I’ve been trained to do; and that is create a character. Plus the great writing helped, tremendously, in giving clear indications as to who T-Dog was.

AFC: A lot of us are expecting to see a massacre in episode 6, which will be the last for this short season. Obviously you know now if you survived the season or not, but back before you knew your character’s fate, did not knowing what would become of you stress you at all?

IronE: I stressed a little bit. Then I realized that what’s for me is for me. If T-Dog is written (eaten) out of the script, it’s because it was meant to be. He served his purpose and now it’s time to count my blessings and move on to bigger and better things; although it would be hard to top TWD.

AFC: Everybody I’ve spoken with from the show has talked about how tightly everybody has bonded. Steven Yeun who plays Glenn wasn’t the only one to use the word “family.”  What was it about this particular production that pulled everybody together?

IronE: This particular production was similar to any other production or environment. When people are gathered with lots of positive energy, a family-like bond is created. All of humanity is connected through energy, either positive or negative, which would determine whether people become friends or enemies. Therefore, I consider each and every individual I met on the TWD set my friend/family and I love them all. I think they feel the same about me.

AFC: What was the hardest part of doing this series?

IronE: THE HEAT!!! MY LORD!!! Hahaha. It was so hot shooting on a rooftop in Atlanta during the summer. Every day somebody was on the verge of passing out. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

AFC: Others in the cast told me the heat was brutal summertime Atlanta, 120 degrees.

IronE: Hahaha. Yes. BRUTAL! And I’m from Atlanta…and did two-a-days (twice a day) football practices fully padded during the summer for over a decade in the Georgia heat. That heat was UNBELIEVABLE!!!!

AFC: What’s your favorite episode so far?

IronE: Although, I love them all but episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 was probably my favorite because there were several action scenes (hehehehe).

AFC: Were you a fan of the comic or of zombie entertainment in general?

IronE:No, I wasn’t. Shamefully, I had never heard of TWD, but I am definitely a fan now. I am a fan of zombie entertainment, but I’m also a realist so I’m a big fan of non-fiction drama. I do like to laugh and get silly at times, too.

AFC: Do you play video games? How about zombie-fighting games like Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, Plants vs. Zombies?

IronE: I tend to play old school games like Pac-Man, Galaga, Centipede, Dig Dug, etc. But it’s on rare occasions these days that I play video games.

AFC: How did you prepare for the role? You probably didn’t get to practice headshots on any zombies.

IronE: No headshot practice. Thank GOD for special effects. Preparation was easy though. When I saw the fantastic work that Greg Nicotero and his crew did on the zombies, it was not hard to start screaming and running and doing whatever else you had to do to survive…including headshots.

AFC: What survival tips have you learned from being on the show?

IronE: If ever dehydrated, call Stan (the medic on set) and drink lots of Gatorade. Also, if you ever lose a limb, burn the area to stop the bleeding.

AFC: What would be your weapon of choice for fighting zombies?

IronE: Something that doesn’t make a lot of noise. Like a big hammer.

AFC: And I have to hear how you’d answer the question I asked Robert Kirkman and the other actors: What would you do if you were bitten by a zombie? You, not your character.

IronE: I’d look at the person I’m next to and tell them they might not want to be here when I open my eyes. Especially if I’m hungry. Then I’d cover my eyes and count to ten.

AFC: Where can your fans find you?

IronE: IronEsingleton.com would answer all those questions. Twitter @ironesingleton; Facebook under ‘IronE Singleton; and www.IAEmagazine.com as well.

AFC: Thank you so much!

IronE:No, no, no, no. Thank You, Action Flick Chick.

Don’t forget to watch The Walking Dead tonight on AMC. This is the Action Flick Chick, and you’ve just been kicked in the ass!

AMC’s The Walking Dead: Episode Checklist
MINOR SPOILERS

Michael Rooker really wants IronE’s attention.

EP 101 – “Days Gone By” (pilot). Rick searches for his family after emerging from a coma into a world terrorized by the walking dead. Morgan and Duane, whom he meets along the way, help teach Rick the new rules for survival.
EP 102 – “Guts.” Rick unknowingly causes a group of survivors to be trapped by walkers. The group dynamic devolves from accusations to violence, as Rick must confront an enemy far more dangerous than the undead.
EP 103 – “Tell It To The Frogs.” Rick makes a decision to go back to Atlanta to retrieve the bag of guns and save a man’s life. Lori and Shane must deal with the surprising return of someone they thought was dead.
EP 104 – “Vatos.” Rick’s mission to Atlanta is jeopardized when things go awry. Jim becomes unhinged in camp.
EP 105 – “Wildfire.” Rick leads the group to the CDC after the attack. Jim must make a terrible life and death decision.
EP 106 – “TS-19.” Rick and the group are allowed into the CDC, by a strange doctor. But all is not what it seems in their newfound haven.

Previous posts:
* Coming Attraction: AMC’s Original Zombie Drama “The Walking Dead”
* AMC’s The Walking Dead Cast & Creators: Bitten by a Zombie?
* Worldwide Zombie Invasion – AMC & Fox Infect 26 Cities
* AMC’s The Walking Dead Episode 2 Review (SPOILER FREE)

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