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[Warning: This story contains spoilers from episode 512, “Remember,” of AMC’s The Walking Dead.]
Alexandra Breckenridge made her debut on Sunday’s The Walking Dead, taking on a key character from Robert Kirkman‘s beloved comic book series, Jessie.
Thus far, the Alexandria resident is a bit stronger than her comic book counterpart and could be laying the groundwork for a more intimate relationship with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
After the group slowly starts to adjust to Alexandria and accept that they may have found a new long-term home, Jessie — Alexandria’s resident hairstylist — pays Rick a visit in his fancy new home with Carl and gives him a haircut where the duo have an almost immediate connection. Jessie becomes the first member of the community — save for Alexandria’s top dog, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) — to welcome the beleaguered survivors.
Here, Breckenridge talks with THR about how her Jessie compares to the comic character, if there’s a romantic future ahead for her with Rick and more of Alexandria’s mysteries.
How much did you know about The Walking Dead when you were cast? Did you read the comics?
I didn’t know anything. I hadn’t watched the show before. I’d watched the pilot a long time ago, which I enjoyed, but I wasn’t into the blood and guts at the time so I didn’t continue watching for that reason. When I got the part, I watched all four seasons in a week and was having zombie nightmares. It was like cramming for an exam. I hadn’t read the comics and when I first had my meeting with [showrunner] Scott Gimple, he suggested I not read the comics because the show and characters aren’t always exact to the comics. If you’ve seen the comics, my character has short black hair with bangs and wears a headband — and she’s a meek; she’s a weaker character than I’m playing on the how, which is great because I enjoy playing a stronger character.
How different would you say your Jessie is to her comic counterpart?
She’s not as much of a wilting flower. She’s stronger underneath than she was in the comic. I wasn’t going to look at the comics but curiosity killed the cat and I wanted to know what happens with her. The character is definitely different and you’ll see that throughout the season.
Jessie is one of the first Alexandria residents to befriend Rick. Why?
She really just wants to help them. She’s an extremely empathetic person. She’s had a lot of devastation in her life as — everyone else did — she survived this world up until this point. But she also has a lot of personal anguish in her life as well. She feels very deeply and connects on that level and wants to make it work with them. She wants them to stay. Jessie knows right off the bat that there’s maybe a chance that they might leave. Just seeing what kind of state they’re in, they’re all in this post-traumatic stress place so that’s why she goes over to see Rick. They have a pretty immediate connection, whether or not that’s romantic I don’t know. They just have a connection.
In the comics, Jessie winds up having romantic interests in Rick. Giving someone you just met a haircut — especially someone who has been on the road as long as Rick has, that’s a pretty intimate thing. Do you think she’s laying the groundwork for something more already?
Not in that first scene. She’s really trying to befriend him. She’s married and wants to stay and make her marriage work in Alexandria and isn’t looking for anything else at this point where we find her. I don’t want to give too much away as to where it goes but at this point, she doesn’t have a wandering eye.
Rick also has the pleasure of meeting Jessie’s husband, Pete (Corey Brill), who is less than thrilled to welcome them. How would you describe Jessie and Pete’s relationship?
Their relationship will be revealed in the next few episodes. It’s definitely a major part of the storyline. It’s definitely strained with her husband. They’ve been together since they were young for a long time and she’s a very loyal person. She wants to make the marriage work, whether or not that happens we’ll see.
If Jessie’s background is anything like her comics counterpart — which it seems there may be — she and Carol (Melissa McBride) would seem to have a lot in common in terms of dealing with abusive husbands. Could we see them interact at all?
I hope so! We’ll see where that goes. I hope they connect on that level because they would find some camaraderie in their similar experiences.
Now that Rick has been made a constable, how do you think Jessie will lean on him?
She doesn’t really. She sees that happen and is happy for him because she feels that will give him a sense of purpose in their community and hopefully that will draw him into staying there.
How has this community been able to stave off outside threats for so long? Or do appear too good to be true there?
I think it’s pretty shocking once you get in there and meet all these people and how they’ve been able to survive for so long because there’s definitely not a Rick, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie or Michonne among their group. They definitely don’t have a lot of super strong individuals, except for Deanna. Everyone else in Alexandria is relatively naive. It’s really surprising, and I think it’s just dumb luck, to be honest, and those big thick walls that have kept them surviving for this long.
Without Andrea on the AMC series, do you think there’s room for Jessie to become more of a stronger woman in this community the way Andrea did in the comics?
I think there’s a lot of room for that. She already has that within her so I would definitely like to see that happen. I know it’s strange to have that hole where she was in the comics on the show.
What about for Jessie’s son, Ron. How is he different from Carl (Chandler Riggs) and what’s their relationship like?
Both of Jessie’s children have a lot of anger and resentment around their parents’ relationship and dynamic and we’ll get to see that in later episodes. That will definitely come out in the rest of the season.
There was a lot of conflict at the end of the episode with Glenn and Dianna’s son, Aiden. What can you say about how the rest of the season will play out between these two groups? Will those clashes continue?
How could they not?! They’re such strong and dynamic characters. There will be a level of resolve at some point but I don’t know when that will happen but it will start to come to a head. By the end, there has to be a cliffhanger for the next season, so …
What can you say about that cliffhanger? Are we looking for more character deaths? How would you describe the season finale?
It’s The Walking Dead, somebody’s got to die at some point! (Laughs.) You can’t go through five more episodes without at least one or two people dying. The season finale is really intense. I think we’re going to see Rick unravel a little bit more — again, if we haven’t already seen that. But I’m pretty sure we have!
What did you think about Breckenridge’s debut on The Walking Dead? Do you think she could be a love interest for Rick? Sound off in the comments below. The Walking Dead airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Click here to read our interview with Tovah Feldshuh — aka Deanna.
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