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‘The Walking Dead’ Spin-off News Round-Up

After the horrifying end to last week’s The Walking Dead midseason finale, new details from AMC have emerged concerning the new companion series to the zombie apocalypse horror-drama.

The latest storyline is set to follow the aftermath of the same apocalypse that occurs in the original show, presumably starting a little before the same time Rick wakes up in his hospital bed.

Tentatively named Cobalt, the show has already found its male lead in Cliff Curtis (Gang Related, Missing) as the male lead, Sean Cabrera. Sean is described in the casting call as a divorced male teacher in his early 40s, and “a good man trying to do right by everyone in his life”.

The show is reportedly still casting for the female lead role of Nancy Tomkins, a guidance counselor and single mother of two. Tomkins’s children have already been cast: Frank Dillane (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), whose father is Stephen Dillane from Game of Thrones, will play Nick Tomkins and Alycia Debnam Carey will be playing Ashley Tomkins. According to the casting calls, Nick is the drug-addled son of Nancy, whereas Ashley is the counterpart, with “ambitions in direct proportion to her older brother’s failures”.

Cliff Curtis has had a variety of roles in the past, playing a daredevil flight medic in NBC’s Trauma, the head of the Los Angelicos gang in Fox’s Gang Related, and Agent Dax Miller alongside Ashley Judd and Sean Bean in ABC’s Missing. Judging by these high-action roles, I’m not too skeptical that he’ll be able to face the pressures of the zombie apocalypse.

Frank Dillane’s latest high-profile role was as Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, so it’s safe to assume that Dillane will be bringing that troubled and chaotic psychology to Nick’s character. Alycia Debam Carey has had few roles in various shorts and TV series. Her latest big-screen appearance is in Into the Storm alongside The Walking Dead alum Sarah Wayne Callies.

AMC is still casting for Sean’s son Cody (“whip-smart and rebellious teenage son known as the angriest kid in town”) and Sean’s ex-wife Andrea Chapman (“A somewhat wilted flower child” in her 40s).

The actual whereabouts of the story’s location remains to be a mystery. While rumors have been floating around about Australia or New Zealand considering the backgrounds of the actors cast, it’s safe to say that actor’s accents play little role in the setting. (Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan, and Lennie James are British.)

AMC President Charlie Collier said in a statement from September: “Almost from the beginning of The Walking Dead on AMC, fans have been curious about what is going on in the zombie apocalypse in other parts of the world. In fact, beyond requests for zombie cameos, it’s the question I get asked the most.”

For now, it looks like the stark difference between The Walking Dead and Cobalt is the presence of an equal-in-weight female lead. The closest we’ve gotten to female leads in The Walking Dead are Michonne, Carol, and Maggie, and they both emerged as leads in the later seasons.

It sounds like the Sean and Cody duo may have the same father-son dynamic as Rick and Carl, especially with Cody’s “rebellious” attitude and reputation as the “angriest kid in town” reminiscent of Carl’s periods of pubescent angst.

I’m looking forward to the actual beginning of the show and storyline – Rick’s concussion set the show’s start time to a period of approximately 3-6 months after the apocalypse began, so it will be interesting to see how the showrunners will carry out the initial outbreak and pandemonium.

The project, announced in September 2013, is co-created and co-written by Robert Kirkman (creator of the original Walking Dead comics) and Dave Erickson (Sons of Anarchy). Kirkman also serves as the executive producer alongside TWD’s Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert. Oscar winner Adam Davidson is set to direct the pilot.

“There are many corners of The Walking Dead universe that remain unseen in the shadows. Being given the opportunity to shine a light into those corners and see what lurks out there is an absolute thrill,” Kirkman said in a statement when the pilot was announced. “I know the fans are anxious to hear what Dave and I have been cooking up for this new universe of The Walking Dead, and I’m happy to be one step closer to sharing it with them.”

Production for the show begins later this month.