Exclusive: Interview with Jay Huguley of “The Walking Dead”
CTV: Can you tell us a little bit about your character, David, and what we know about him so far? Jay: Well, what I can tell you is that he’s one of the Alexandrians. Part of the walled city. He is part of Rick’s sort of trial run gone wrong in that first episode. Crazy, crazy stuff happens. I can say that. CTV: Besides David, do you have a favorite character. Like, if you’re just watching, which character or characters do you enjoy most? Jay: On The Walking Dead? CTV: Yeah. Jay: I’m a huge Michonne fan. He’s just, I think, the gold standard for the lead on a show for just so many reason. You don’t even have enough time to talk about it. I just think he’s a great character, great actor. It’s complicated. I love me some Michonne. CTV: Can you share any behind the scenes stuff? Do you have a fun or amusing story that happens on set, or any rituals that you guys have—routines, activities that the cast participates in? Jay: To be honest, it’s just—I keep saying this to friends. It was really one of the greatest work experiences of my life. It’s really just like a great group of prepared, talented, no one takes their job—it’s taken completely seriously and everyone works very hard. You see why the show is so good. Everyone works very hard and they take it all very seriously. No one’s winking at it. For an actor to jump into that machine is really a thrill. CTV: I read that you were double major at American University, poly sci and communication, I believe. You were involved in some plays there. What drew you to acting? How did you make the leap from, perhaps, one anticipated career path to another? Jay: I think that, unless you’re from a theatrical family and you have some sort of model for how a career could go, or possibilities of how a business in acting might work out, it’s a scary thing to want to do. I had no idea of what sort of path a career as an actor took. I had a lot of plans to fall back on. I’ve majored in a couple of different things. I was going to, maybe, go into politics. I was carrying around this secret that I love doing plays. I did every play in college. I come out of rehearsal thinking, like, “This is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life.” You just don’t know how to make that happen. I started to get little jobs out of college. A print job here, a commercial here. I was going to a set and working all day and getting paid, and I thought, “Okay, this is some version of that.” I slowly started to reconcile the fact that I could maybe make a career and a life as an actor. There were a few plays I did in college where when I came off stage, I thought, “This is what I want to do.” CTV: It seems like the plays you were in were pretty pivotal in your decision to pursue this professionally. When you first started out, were there any actors in particular who, perhaps, inspired you more than others? Jay: Yeah, I mean, I was always a great student of old movies. All the Brando, Richard Burton, Paul Newman. I was always a great student of all those old movies. As I got more into it, I started to just watch everything that Christopher Walken did. I loved him and Robert De Niro, Al Pacino. I started to study in New York where a lot of those actors that I admire studied. There have been a lot of influences over the years. CTV: Right, I imagine. Who haven’t you worked with yet that, perhaps, someday you would like to? Jay: Oh gosh. There’s so many. Meryl Streep is always on that list for most actors. I just saw Nancy Meyers’ last film, The Intern, with Robert De Niro and I just sat through the first half an hour of that film thinking, “I cannot believe this is the same actor from Taxi Driver.” He’s just the best at what we try to do every day and so that would certainly be a dream. I’d have to calm myself for my first day at work with Robert De Niro. Those are two big ones. I’m also a big fan of John Hawkes. The film called The Sessions a few years ago that I loved that he was in. I just love his career. I love the way he works. There’s a bunch. CTV: Perfect! Those are great. Out of all of your characters that you’ve ever played, and I’m sure you’re asked this before, excluding The Walking Dead, who do you think are, perhaps, some of your favorites? Jay: You know, I always find the most fun characters to play are the ones that don’t seem to be who they appear to be, that don’t turn out to be who they appear to be. I played a guy on Treme on HBO for a while. David Simon’s such a great writer and he’s so good at this very thing where he introduces a character and you don’t quite understand if you trust him or not. Then, slowly over a period of time, he turns out to sort of not be who he said he was. There was a character on True Detective that I played that was very much like that. He was seemingly part of this really monstrous family, seemed to be like sort of the only one that had actually gotten himself together. Any character that takes you on a little bit of journey to a very different place from where you started out. CTV: Is that fun for you? I mean, when you’re reading these scripts, I imagine for a lot of the time you probably don’t always know the direction of where things might go. Jay: Exactly. That’s part of the different thing about doing television and film as to plays, because in plays you have two hours over the course of the evening to make all these subtle changes. In TV and film, it’s all shot out of order, so you have to make very quick choices about what you’re going to play in each moment. To play character that makes a big change over the course of time is, I think, the most gratifying for me. CTV: We’re an entertainment blog, so I have to ask you. What shows, when you even have time, are your favorite to binge watch? Jay: You know, I was a huge Mad Men fan. Still getting over that being over. I just watched the entire two seasons of something called The Fall on Netflix. I could not turn it off. It’s with Gillian Anderson and sort of a British crime. I like a lot of those kinds of things. I was a big Breaking Bad fan. Then, Downton Abbey I loved. I’m still up to date on that. There’s a whole lot in my queue that I haven’t had time for. I’m actually looking forward to a vacation when I can spend a little more time with that. CTV: Speaking of that, when you’re not working and balancing different projects, what do you like to do for fun? Are there vacation spots you love, or just activities you enjoy most? Jay: Living in Los Angeles is great for that because you’re really close to a lot of different, pretty great places. You have the ability to feel very far away and you don’t have to go very far. There’s Santa Barbara up to the north, and Ojai, and then there’s San Diego. I got to Palm Springs a lot. It’s a great place to just go be for a few days and read a book. Also, right where I live, there’s great hikes. I stand up paddle, I go in the ocean a couple of times a week. When I do have some free time, it’s pretty easy to get away here.
CTV: Perfect. What about your upcoming projects? I saw that there’s a few things going on, right? Jay: Yeah. I did a movie last year called Abattoir which is going to come out in the new year, directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who’s brought you the Saw movies. I was telling someone this the other day, I don’t think I ever worked on something that was actually scary to make. It’s a really, really scary script. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. I think it’s going to be terrifying. CTV: Nice! Very cool. Where can people find you on social media? Jay: I’m @jayhuguleyofficial on Instagram, and then there’s Facebook, and then Twitter is @jayhuguley. CTV: Well thank you, Jay! Jay: It’s really good talking to you. CTV: Yeah! We’re looking forward to find out what happens to David and what happens this season. I know you can’t say much, but we appreciate it! Jay: Thanks so much!
Sarah is a writing teacher and pop culture addict. Her current TV obsessions include "The Mindy Project" and "Girls" (and endless reruns of "Sex and the City"). She also enjoys following far too many celebrities than she should on Instagram.