Mar. 08, 2016
Sitting Down With The Walking Dead's Christopher Berry
Actor Christopher Berry sat down with SportsMix to discuss The Walking Dead, Texas football, and more...
Written by Jake Elman
"Your property...now belongs...to Negan."
Those six words at face value don't sound like too much of a big deal, but to hardcore fans of AMC's The Walking Dead, the final words of season six's first half spell one word: danger. Comic book readers have seen Negan's love of swearing and violence for nearly four years now and, at long last, the former used car salesman is coming to the small screen -- and being portrayed by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, no less.
Rather than get our first mention of Negan following the herd that attacks the Alexandria Safe-Zone to end the first half of season six, though, Scott Gimple and The Walking Dead decided to introduce the most-feared villain in series history in a completely different -- and unexpected -- fashion: a post-credits scene to end the season six midseason finale, 'Start To Finish' featuring survivors Daryl Dixon, Abraham Ford, and Sasha Williams running into a road block on their way back home.
If you got chills, you're not alone, as Christopher Berry -- playing Negan's lead goon, Bud, in that scene -- absolutely killed it (before being killed to start off episode nine). Today, Berry joins SportsMix to not only talk about The Walking Dead, but also his love for the Texas Longhorns and which former Longhorn, if he had to chose, he'd build a team around.
Slight spoilers are ahead for the second half of AMC's The Walking Dead, though major details such as main character deaths are not a part of these spoilers. Read with caution if you have not seen recent episodes of The Walking Dead.
Jake Elman: Welcome to SportsBlog, Chris, how are you doing today?
Christopher Berry: Doing great, thanks!
Jake: Give your fans and ours a review of your career. Just who, my friend, is Christopher Berry?
Chris: I'm a professional film and TV actor amongst other things. I am a native Texan, I grew up in San Angelo, Texas and now live in New Orleans, Louisiana. I've been fortunate to have worked with some really amazing people, including but not limited to Quentin Tarantino, Gary Ross, Matthew McConaughey, just to name a few. I often play bad guys and have died onscreen more times than I can count.
Jake: It only makes sense to start with The Walking Dead. You've been on the record saying that you've been an avid fan of the show for years and then, come 2015, you're getting on a motorcycle, putting on a biker jacket, and raising a gun at Daryl. Goddamn. Dixon (note to readers who do not watch The Walking Dead and are just here for sports: Daryl Dixon is the face of the show with a motorcycle, leather jacket, and crossbow). Some actors have admitted it's hard to put their fandom of a project aside when they sign on, so I have to ask if that was a problem for you.
Chris: No, it really wasn't. I was certainly excited and energized by it all, but the scene was so intense that the actual work of making it come off just right really took over, and so I was pretty much compelled to lock down all of my other feelings and concentrate. It was also really helpful that my scene partners were all very much into it as well. Afterwards, the fan in me came back out and I couldn't get the silly grin off of my face for hours.
Jake: Describe your experience on set and being a part of the show to me in one word.
Chris: Surreal. I'd been watching the show avidly since day one, so to be actually living and interacting in that world was really weird and freaky. Cool, as well, but it was strange, too. Being face to face with Abe and Sasha and Daryl Goddamn Dixon was amazingly odd. And awesome!
Jake: Have you remained in contact with any of the people from The Walking Dead people that you worked with?
Chris: I text with Norman from time to time. He's a good dude, I hope to have a few beers with him and shoot the shit if he ever gets down to New Orleans.
Jake: During an AMA on Reddit, you gave your character a name (Bud), a pre-apocalypse background, and even a character background (drywaller and a motorcycle enthusiast who was on his way to Shenandoah Valley in Virginia) that rivals some of the show's longest-tenured characters in creativity and even realism. Was this background just a spontaneous thought during the AMA session, or had you been thinking about this for a while?
Chris: I'd been thinking about it since I was cast. My character was never named in the script, so I basically just gave him a name and a past for my own sake before shooting started.
Jake: Everyone, and rightfully so, is talking about the "boogeyman" Negan. How would you handle Negan if you were Rick's group?
Chris: I'd stay as far away from him as possible! *laughs* If I did decide I needed to confront him, I think I'd gather a LOT more intel on him and his group than Rick's group has thus far.
Jake: The hashtag #TWDFamily gets thrown around a lot, whether it's on social media or interviews. As someone who delivered arguably the best one-scene (technically two) performance in the show's history, how has the reception and support to you from fans been over the past few weeks?
Chris: It's been amazing. There's been such a massive outpouring of enthusiasm and support from the fans that I am both shocked by and massively thankful for. I'm still pretty new to the concept of having fans. Most of my work thus far has been well received but has flown under the radar, so to speak. I'm used to being that guy in that thing.
Jake: Let's talk Texas Football, seeing as you're an outspoken Longhorns fan. How did you get to become such a big Texas fan?
Chris: I've been a Texas fan my whole life. My whole family are UT fans, and I attended UT for my first three semesters of college. Where I come from, you're either a Horns fan, an Aggies fan, or possibly a Tech fan.
Jake: Seeing as season six of TWD was filmed starting in the spring of 2015, did you get to talk with anyone involved with production -- actors, camera people, directors, etc -- about Longhorns and college football as a whole?
Chris: Not on TWD, but working with Matthew McConaughey I did quite a bit, as he's also a huge Texas fan. TWD had a lot of Bulldog and Crimson Tide fans working on it. SEC folk.
Jake: You're starting a Texas Longhorns football team and you can pick one of these four players to start the team with: Earl Campbell, Vince Young, Ricky Williams, Colt MCoy. Who are you picking and why?
Chris: All of those are good picks, but I'm gonna go with Earl, because he's a legend, and he'd make the Texas ground game unstoppable.
Jake: I'll admit, I'm shocked at how big a debate there is about the College Football Playoff -- some people don't like that the games are on New Year's Eve, some people think there should be more teams involved. In an ideal world, how would you set the College Football Playoff up?
Chris: That's a tough question. I'd probably expand the semi-finals to 8 teams instead of four, and maybe make the selection committee bigger. I'd also probably allow re-matches of regular season games if that's how it worked out. I don't mind that the games are played on New Years Eve and Day, but maybe I'd spread them out a bit more as well, especially if there were more teams playing in the semis. Or, alternately, the FBS could simply have their playoffs exactly the same way the other divisions have theirs.
Jake: I've seen some Longhorn fans question Charlie Strong's leadership, some question if he's the right guy to get this program to where they were a decade ago. Is Charlie Strong, in your eyes, the right man for Texas?
Chris: I believe in Coach Strong 100%. I think he's playing the long game in building the Longhorns organization from the ground up, and I think it was desperately needed. I think we'll see in the coming seasons that patience, hard work, sacrifice, and dedication to solid core values as a team are gonna make the Horns national champions again.
Jake: If you had to give some final advice for our readers to just one or two sentences, what would they be?
Chris: Aim high. You only get one shot at life, don't do yourself a dis-service by having low ambition. If it seems like too much to wish for, good, then you're on the right track. Also, don't be afraid to fail. You only truly fail when you don't try at all.
Jake: Thank you so much for your time, Chris.
Chris: No problem, man, glad to do it!