Exclusive: Nicholas Cantu Talks his Return to The Walking Dead: World Beyond

Nicholas Cantu***Interview contains spoilers for 2.03***

Tonight, the third episode of the second season of The Walking Dead: World Beyond airs on AMC. In the episode, we finally get to see what Elton, played by Nicholas Cantu, has been up to. Last season, Elton was separated from his friends when he ran into Silas (Hal Cumpston) and Percy (Ted Sutherland) again, proving that Silas didn’t kill Percy’s uncle or try to kill Percy, but rather, Huck (Annet Mahendru) did. When they are caught by the CRM, Silas sacrifices himself so Elton and Percy can get away.

In this week's episode, Elton and Percy are stopped by two new characters, Asha (Medelyn Kientz) and Dev (Abubakr Ali), who take them to Iris (Aliyah Royale) and Felix (Nico Tortorella).

Cantu recently caught up with Jamie Ruby of SciFi Vision in an exclusive interview to talk about this week’s episode of the series and what’s next for his character.

SCIFI VISION:   So, I've seen the third episode, and I’m glad to see that you're finally back in the show, so at least there's something specific we can talk about this time.

Nicholas CantuNICHOLAS CANTU:   I made it. I'm here.

You're here.

An introduction on the horse.
Yes, and I do want to talk about that, but first, can you tell me, how did you first get the role originally?

Oh, it was just an audition, like, like every other one. I don't know where I was, but I was probably minding my business, and I got an email like, “Hey, there's this TWD3 thing going on, and we want you to read for this character Miles.” They were using fake sides and a fake character name, but I saw The Walking Dead 3, and I was like, “Oh, shoot, this is big.” So, I put my all into it. I went into a casting office and did my thing, and they liked me, so I got hired. And now I have this super cool job, or had, because season two’s over. We're done filming.

Yes, but you're still you're still part of the universe.

Yes, it really was a great ride on the show, but let's see where other things go.

So, can you talk about how your life has changed since you gotten a role on such a big show?

It's definitely felt like I've become a part of this Walking Dead family, just through social media and all of these interviews and being able to talk about the show and having a fan base that just wants to know everything about it. I've never been involved in a project like that. This is definitely the most press I've done for anything. So. that's changed, where now I do my life, and then I work on shows, and then I also talk about the shows. I'd never done the talking part before. That's different. I made a lot of great friends in Richmond. I got to see more of America. I'd never been on the East Coast before, so I got to see New York City and Washington DC, and Virginia Beach, and all these little places along that area. A lot of change, honestly, and it was three years of my life, because I started at fifteen, and now I'm eighteen. And that was that.

Well, I think once COVID is complete, we hope eventually is completely gone. There'll be you know conventions and stuff popping up. And I'm sure you'll get you'll get even more of that once you can see more people in person.

Yeah, that was a bit of a bummer. Like, when our show was rolling out, we got delayed because of COVID. We were going to go to South by Southwest and do all these conventions and stuff, and then COVID came through, and, unfortunately, we had to cancel. My first really big press things have all been through Zoom. So, I got a different experience a digital, Comic-Con sort of deal.

You learn as you go, but hey, it's better than nothing.


At least you get that interaction anyway. So, I guess the answer would be you would do it, but I'm guessing you can't say anything one way or the other, but now there is going to be the Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) show coming, and there's going to be another spin off, I guess, somewhere down the road and some movies and things. I guess that if they asked you to bring your character back, assuming you survive the season finale - considering I have no clue - but assuming you survive, I assume you would want to do that? But I’m guessing you can't tell me if you've had any discussions or anything with that?

Nope. [laughs] You're right on the money, but assuming I survived, it'd be fun to jump in on some other little experience in The Walking Dead universe. It'd be fun, if I survive.

If you got to cross over to one of the shows, is there a character that you would most want to have a scene with from one of the other series?
Probably Daryl, just because he was always my favorite from when the show started in like 2010. It would definitely be one of the Atlanta five, maybe Glenn (Steven Yeun). I always liked. Glenn, but, you know, he's gone. If we're doing like dream mode, like nothing makes sense, then Glenn.

Well, I think with the one show, at least I was under the impression, it might be some flashbacks and things too. So, who knows? You never know.

The possibilities are endless.

Yes. So, you mentioned the horse. Did you already know how to ride a horse, and what was that experience like?

No, that was my first time, and it was a daunting task. First thing I did when I got out to Richmond was do horse training, because Matt [Negrete] gave me a call like, “So we're doing season two, and you're on a horse, and that's the big thing. So, you need to learn how to do that.” I was like, “All right.” So, I did the training. I got to know this horse. His name was Charlie. Apparently, he was a big movie star horse. He had done a bunch of other movies and TV and stuff. And he almost bucked us off, me and Ted. We were not experienced horse riders. So, the horse, I think it was sense that and was like, “Man, get these posers off of me,” and so we almost got bucked off. [laughs]

[laughs] But you've gotten it down now, though.

No, [laughs] I mean, I could get on a horse. I could ride it; I can do all that, but no, I'm no pro, and I also probably wouldn't do it under my own my own wishes. I like cars. [laughs] I just want to go with the pedal. I don't need this thing that I'm traveling with to talk back to me, and there's really a relationship that you have with this animal. I don't know. It kind of freaked me out. I was like, “Dude, this is so weird. This thing has a whole personality.” I guess that's why people love horses so much, but it’s not for me. I enjoyed my time with Charlie, but I'll do it for movies and stuff, maybe horseback riding on vacation, but...
But that’s it, okay. So, I mean, you did last season as well, but you're doing some more of the action stuff and all that this season. Do you enjoy it? I mean, other than the horse-riding part of it, [laughs] do you do you enjoy that?

Nicholas CantuOh one 100%. I mean, even the horse riding, just being able to be active on a set and do cool things. This is the place to be, I mean, it's a zombie apocalypse. You get to kill things. You get to pretend to kill things. You get cool moves; you get cool weapons. It was a blast. I couldn't have asked for a better stunt experience. It was really, really fun.

You make me wonder when you talk about that kind of thing. I know I'd be the person who would trip and fall and die [laughs], but if you were in a real zombie apocalypse, how do you think that you would do?

I think isolation is the best way to go about it if you're trying to survive the longest, because less exposure to danger means less exposure to the chances of dying. So, I'd probably be like an apocalyptic hermit. I’d probably just be on this journey of the lonesome apocalypse ranger. That would be my approach. Yeah, I can see it now. I'm imagining. Yeah, that would be my approach.

[laughs] Whatever works right?


Okay, well, can you talk about filming the scene that you have in this episode with empties coming out of the ground around you? Because that's really a very cool looking scene.

It was fun. That was the first big action set piece we had. There're a lot of moving parts. There are a lot of characters involved, and the special effects makeup on the zombies was just so cool. I mean, they had like worms coming out of their mouth. There's like fungus growing on him; he had moss. I always love that part of coming to set and being like, “Oh, what have the special effects team cooked up for us to play with today?” And that was a very cool set piece. So, I was very excited to just get to Richmond and jump into cool stuff. It was awesome.

I was going to ask you, I guess you're not like Aaliyah then, because I know she is always still [laughs] kind of freaked out by that stuff.

Yeah, she gets scared by the zombies. I'm not the same way. I grew up watching zombie movies and playing zombie games. I don't do well with other scary stuff, but for whatever reason, zombies don't scare me. I'm like, “Cool.” I think they're dope.

That's fair. Aisha Tyler directed this episode.

Yeah, she was incredible.

Can you talk about working with her?

Yeah, she's great. I mean, I'm a huge fan of Whose Line is it Anyway? That was the main thing for me. I was like, “She’s on that; it’s crazy.” But she was a great director. She brought a lot of energy to set. It was very smooth working with her, and it was a great introduction back into the world The Walking Dead, because she was so passionate. I think she directed other episodes of the other shows, I think, if I remember correctly.
I think so.
So, yeah, she brought in a lot of that experience and a lot of that know-how of the universe, and it was fun to jump right back in to work with such a great director.

So, in this episode, Percy is kind of trying to change Elton's view of the world. Obviously, in this instance, it works out, because you end up back with Iris and Felix and all that, but this maybe isn't the safest place for them. Can you just kind of talk about if him kind of believing in people, can that maybe come back to bite him in the butt later on? Is there anything you can kind of tease or say in your opinion about that?

Not so much teasing, but just in the theoretical nature of being so open in the apocalypse and honest and trustworthy, yeah, that could bite you in the butt. You can trust the wrong person; that happens all the time. So, I think Percy's nature of being distant and wanting to take advantage, it's just because he knows what the apocalypse is. He's actually been out there. Elton's lived in this little sheltered community, so he's still able to hold on to that niceness, but I think it's still much more about Elton's character, actually. I don't think just the fact that he hasn't seen the world is why he's so trusting. I think it's because of what he's seen; he's kind of developed himself into this zen, open intellectual person that sees beyond the horrors of the apocalypse.

So, it sounds like from what I've seen - I saw the little behind the scenes clip thing at the end of the episode on AMC+, but it sounds like your suit has been hot and not so great and also uncomfortable. So, now you get to, at least for a little bit, get rid of it. [laughs]
You know, when I heard I was going to get a wardrobe switch, I was excited. Then, I found out they're putting me in a union suit with a butt flap. I was like, “Really, guys?” This is my first piece of other clothing other than the suit. It's pajamas. All right.” So, I was in pajamas, and it was cold. It was like this big game was being played with me. On the hot days, I would wear the suit, and then the cold days I would be wearing next to nothing. God was against me. [laughs]

Well, maybe you'll get it back. We don't know. [laughs]

Nicholas CantuYeah, there's still a lot of episodes.

So, is there anything that you can say about Elton and Asha? I mean, I got the opinion that there might be more there, or there might be going to be more there. I know obviously you can't tell me specifically what will happen, but is there anything you can kind of say about that?

Yeah, we're going to get to see these two very different characters interact much how Percy and Elton interact to sort of the the grifter and the, I guess, optimist. The pessimism and the optimism clash right there. We're going to get to see a different clash with this sort of intellectual, science-based brain and this spiritual art, like much more driven by belief, brain. So, we get to see those two characters interact and see how they mesh and see how they clash and see what happens with that relationship.

All right. You had I talked [in our last conversation] a bit about the difficulties of working with COVID. Obviously, that has not been fun, but other than that, what are some of the things that you still find difficult working on this show?

I'm a very [laughs] irresponsible person when it comes to my sleep schedule. So, having to wake up early some days, it's really, really bad for me, because I never wake up at 6am, and having to do that, it was a battle. Multiple alarms, a cold shower; I had to do the work. So, I would drink coffee. I never really drink coffee. I'd never found a need for caffeine, but whenever I was working, I needed that extra energy. So, I think it was just [laughs] me and my issues getting put into an actual work environment, just like, “Oh, I can't just sleep in and just do whatever. I’ve got to show up to work.” So, I think that was the most difficult part, but it was just so fun. I mean, even with COVID, of course, you have all the safety precautions, and it wasn't the same as season one, but I still had a blast.

Before we go, let me ask you, I remember from the conversation we had last season that you are a gamer, it seems like.

Yeah, you could say that.

So, what kind of games do you play? What are your favorite games?

I haven’t been playing as many games as I used to. At the beginning of the show, I definitely played a lot of games. I was fifteen; now I'm eighteen, so I guess my tastes changed a little bit, but I still like video games. I just don't play them as avidly as I used to, but there's this game Last of Us, part one and two. Those are some zombie games, actually, keeping with the theme of the apocalypse, and those are very fun. There's Counter Strike. Super Mario Sunshine, they just put that back up on the Nintendo Switch. That was a fun play through to relive that. I like a bunch of different stuff.

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