Elizabeth Rodriguez, who plays Liza Ortiz on AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead, talks about coping with her fear of blood and Liza’s decision to leave her son.
Q: We hear you don’t like the sight of blood. How did you cope on set?
A: Every time we cut – and there were times where I was much closer to the blood – I would jump away and become like a 7-year-old kid. It was disgusting! Of course, they do such an incredible job of making it look real and you have to act truthfully. Your body doesn’t know the difference in emotions.
Q: Would that be the toughest thing for you to deal with during an apocalypse? Would it be the sight of blood?
A: It would probably be having to make the choice to take someone’s life, particularly when you don’t know when that someone is truly infected or not. Once you do something that compromises your values at that moment, even if it’s to survive, I would think you’d lose a piece of yourself along the way.
Q: Liza is currently putting herself through nursing school, so her skills would come in handy during an apocalypse. Do you have any skills that would benefit you?
A: I can run really fast. That’s about it.
Q: Well, that’s probably a great skill to have!
A: [Laughs] Liza’s much more equipped than I am and much harder of a worker in life. I looked up the prerequisites for nursing school and it’s incredible how much work it is. She’s also a single mother. She’s my new hero.
Q: What is Liza’s number one goal right now? Is it protecting her son?
A: Absolutely. There’s that nurturing quality to live and protect your child, even before your own life. That also extends towards Madison’s family. She’s very empathetic towards Madison’s situation with her children.
Q: Liza has to make a tough choice in Episode 4, when she chooses to leave her son in order to help out at the hospital. What do you make of her decision?
A: I had such a hard time with that. We shot it out of sequence and I remember feeling like I didn’t understand [her choice]. I had to find what it was to justify her leaving in that moment and I think it was the guilt and shock of what happens to Nick. She knew she could at least do something about that and that her own son would be taken care of.
Q: What’s the scariest thing about the pre-apocalypse? What was your reaction when you saw your first infected person on set?
A: I got super close to him and asked him all these questions. Then, I go into broad comedy and I’m like, “Oh, I want to kiss you!” The makeup work is so incredible that you don’t feel it when you meet them beforehand. It’s only after it’s all done that you walk around feeling neurotic about what’s going on in the world. It’s the not knowing. Not knowing the rules causes the biggest fear. You’d walk around looking at people and thinking, “That person could be infected.” Anybody could.
Q: Have you watched The Walking Dead? Who has it worse: the characters dealing with the later stages of the apocalypse, or the characters dealing with the early stages?
A: I think maybe the early stages. It’s all hard, but it really is the not knowing. The rules aren’t clear and you don’t know who’s dead. You see these characters being who they are in the life they live and then they have to transform at rapid speeds to live and survive. There’s no happy choice and they don’t come without a cost. You compromise your values along the way in needing to protect your family and who you take with you. These are really difficult questions and you find out who you are versus who you thought you were.
Q: Most of the Fear the Walking Dead actors have said L.A. would not be a good place to hide out from an apocalypse. As a New Yorker yourself, would New York City be just as bad, or worse? Where would you go?
A: I thought New York would be better, in a way, because it’s a walking city and there’s always a garbage can or something to grab as a weapon. I would want to be nowhere near a big city, though. You’d die much quicker.
Q: With having to deal with crowds and chaos on a daily basis, has city life toughened you up?
A: At some level, it has. Growing up in the city, you’re quicker, your senses are heightened and you’re constantly aware of your surroundings. I think that would be a quality that would definitely prepare you.
Q: You’ve joked about the cast being jealous of each other’s parts while reading through scripts. How often does that happen?
A: There were a couple of times where they’ve said, “I can’t believe you’re about to do this” and I’m like, “Are you kidding me? You get to do this.” We get so excited about each other’s work.
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