Living in the same universe as The Walking Dead, Fear the Walking Dead is a gritty drama that explores the onset of the undead apocalypse through the lens of a fractured family. Set in a city where people come to escape, shield secrets, and bury their pasts, a mysterious outbreak threatens to disrupt what little stability high school guidance counselor Madison Clark and English teacher Travis Manawa have managed to assemble. The everyday pressure of blending two families while dealing with resentful, escapist, and strung out children takes a back seat when society begins to break down. A forced evolution, a necessary survival of the fittest takes hold, and our dysfunctional family must either reinvent themselves or embrace their darker histories.
Meet Chris Manawa, played by Lorenzo James Henrie:CHRISTOPHER MANAWA is a rebellious teenager with a cause. He has both his father’s do-good attitude and his mother’s edge. The product of divorced parents, Christopher often feels that he and his mother are his father’s forgotten family. He resents his father’s insistence on bringing the two families closer because he wants nothing more than to break away from the Clarks and be his father’s sole priority.
Lorenzo James Henrie has had an impressive body of work alongside some of Hollywood’s most prestigious producers, directors and actors. Most recently, Henrie appeared in Sony Pictures’ Paul Blart: Mall Cops 2 starring Kevin James. He also recently completed production on the feature film Warrior Road, in which he plays the lead role. His other feature film work includes an appearance in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek and the lead roles in both Riding ’79 and Almost Kings.
Henrie started acting at age 8 and had his feature film debut in Arizona Summer. His television work includes a recurring role on the WB’s 7th Heaven and guest star roles on CSI: Miami, NCIS, Cold Case, Malcolm in the Middle, Wanted, LAX and Ghost Whisperer.
Rodriguez is a native New Yorker and member of Labyrinth Theater Company.
Tell us about where we find Chris Manawa at the start of Fear.
Chris’s parents Travis and Liza divorced when he was 16, so this kid is very wounded. His father was his hero, and so the divorce jabs him like a knife in his stomach. Chris is very angry at his father and, to a certain extent, his mother as well.
What did you like about your character?
I was most excited to play the father/son relationship – the internal and external relationship of what that is between the two characters. So we have flawed characters in this show, and it’ll be interesting to see how they’re going to heal those wounds, if they even can, on the backdrop of the apocalypse.
What’s Chris’s relationship like with his father?
Chris is angry. He’s damaged, and the relationship between him and Travis has ups and downs. He’s a kid that wants to love his father, but he’s got that thought that his dad has betrayed him, but he also wants to protect his family and be there with his dad to team up when the end of the world happens. So it’s finding the balance of how he’s going to reconcile all these feelings while dealing with the massively changing environment.
Chris is a lot like Travis in the way that he wants to fix things. He wants to protect his mom; he wants to stand for what’s right, and you’ll see that early on in the season. I think Travis wants the relationship he used to have with Chris before he divorced Liza, but they can’t go back. He wants to fix it, as he always does, but now it’s going to take far more time given the situation we’re all being thrown into. Travis is a man of good will, and he wants the best for his son. I think he’ll do everything he can to make things better, but we all have different perspectives and agendas.
What did you find relatable in this story, and where does it all begin for the audience?
Two families come together that can’t get along. Will they get along in the face of apocalypse? That is where the journey begins for the audience. This story is relatable because it shows our brokenness – that these are things that happen in normal families. Not everyone’s perfect.
What kind of anxiety will the fans go through knowing more?
The fans know more than us so it’s going to drive them crazy I bet, because they’re going to know the laws of this universe. They’ll know how the walkers work and what to do, all the survival skills from The Walking Dead they’ll know. I think this element will have them rooting for us. The walkers in Fear are more human, so it’ll be harder for us to take any of them down since they’re so lifelike. This is a new storyline for audiences with the same backdrop.
What’s the heart of the story, for you?
The heart of the story is family love in the sense of love as sacrifice, because sometimes you’re going to have to do things you don’t want to do. Also, you approach things differently if you’re faced with the potential of life as you know it ending. You may accomplish a lot more!