After learning (a lot) more about Aaron this week, Entertainment Weekly caught up with Ross Marquand to talk about his character’s backstory with Eric, what it’s like to act with Andrew Lincoln, and his beef with applesauce.
EW: Yo, what’s your beef with applesauce, man?
ROSS MARQUAND: Of all the things to have an abhorrence over, I can’t have applesauce—one of the most safe and bland things. I think it’s funny that his mother tried to make him more manly by feeding him applesauce, salmon patties, and onions. Were they served in conjunction with each other? Was it like a casserole, those three items? Or was it just à la carte? It’s like, you’re going to be more manly—have applesauce, dammit
Tell us about the big scene in the barn with you and Andrew Lincoln. Here you are for your first full episode and you have this huge scene with the star of the show.
It was terrifying, I’m not going to lie. Going there on the plane was the most nerve-wracking part because I’ve been a fan of the show for five years. So the flight to Atlanta, I was just sweating bullets. I was mortified. Because not only are you excited to meet some of your favorite characters, but also you want to do a good job. You want to honor the source material, but at the same time—from a very selfish perspective as a fan—I want Aaron to be a person that I want to watch week after week. There was a great deal of pressure, but luckily Andy was extremely kind. He gave me a hug the moment I met him. And then he insisted on rehearsals, which was so wonderful. Coming from a background in theater, that was such a freeing acknowledgement that we want to do some work beforehand. And just having that time in a room where we sat down and worked the scene several times with the director was wonderful.
What’s it like then working with Andy once the scene starts shooting, because he can be very intense?
It was a strange because he gives me a great big hug. He’s so sweet. And then the moment you start working it just switches. It completely switches and he is in absolute work mode—which is wonderful to act across from someone like that who takes his job so seriously. Most of those reactions were absolutely genuine—genuine fear and genuine concern over whether or not he was going to stab me at the base of my skull.
Let’s talk about Aaron’s relationship with Eric, because this is the first male gay couple we’ve seen on the show.
In talking to [showrunner] Scott Gimple about the backstory of Aaron and Eric, it was never really fleshed out how long they’ve known each other—at least from the source material we were given. So when I met with Jordan Woods-Robinson, who plays Eric, we sort of created a little backstory of our own. We thought it was a stronger choice that we had known each other prior to the zombie apocalypse. Prior to everything happening, we had known each other beforehand, we had stuck together. We just thought that was a stronger way to go because it must be such a hard thing as a gay man or a lesbian to find someone in that environment where everything is stretched completely. And we thought it was more interesting from an acting perspective that we’ve been together through this entire two-year stretch.
Do you guys like what Ross is bringing to the role? Did you think his extra backstory (longterm relationship with Eric, previous work at an NGO) enriches his character, or conflicts too much with the comics? Let us know in the comments!