Australian actor Callan McCauliffe has stolen the hearts of The Walking Dead fans as Saviour-turned-singer, Alden, since his debut in season eight. After being promoted to series regular this year, he has had to deal with Whisperers, band rehearsals, and the tragic loss of his lover, Enid.
We were very lucky to catch up with Callan at this year’s Walker Stalker Con in London to chat about his time on the show so far, as well as the publishing of his awesome new novel, ‘The Hill Ghost’…
Alden has had such a fascinating journey on the show, going from the Saviour who just wanted peace to a key member of the community. Did you have any idea how much of a major role you were going to end up playing?
As per the contract, I figured I was only going to be in that one season, season eight, and then just see what happens. Then, fortuitously, I was upgraded to series regular… From there, you don’t know where it’s gonna go. You’re contracted in for a while, but it’s entirely up to production. So I never really had a clue! I was sort of like a fart in the wind, floating around a little bit. It’s always exciting though, because it’s like I’ve got a nine-to-five, but I could lose it at any moment! It’s kinda weird!
Speaking of losing things, how has it been saying goodbye Katelyn (Nacon)?
Character-wise, I wonder if it’ll give Alden a chance to lash out and retaliate; he’s always been such a nice guy! Losing Katelyn is a huge loss to me as she’s such a wonderful on-set presence and it’s wonderful working with her. I was pretty sad about that. It’s the first time I’ve become really good friends with someone on the show and then their character goes. Same with Alanna Masterson. I’d only just worked up to being friends with everyone, ‘cause I’m pretty new and kind of a nascent character, so this is my first time losing fellow actors on the show. It’s a pretty big deal!
Where do you see Alden going in the wake of the season finale?
I wanna see him get mad! And I wanna see more horses. And more snow. Because it’s unprecedented. Not the horses. We’ve seen horses right from season one. Andy was on a horse. But the tonal shift the snow has given the programme. We’re seeing things change, and it’s always exciting to have these visual changes.
I have to congratulate you on the new book…
Thank you! It’s nice that I can use the voice that I have fortunately been given through acting to promote some smaller projects I have. Most of my eggs are in the acting basket; it’s been my whole life for the last decade or so. But I have a feeling that my sensibilities are more of someone that writes. I’m definitely going to write more. That book (The Hill Ghost), I sort of shoved that out really quickly because I always get lost and I get bored of my own projects, so I really had to shift that one out. It took me six months to write it, but the editing process was about two years. By the time I finished writing it, I was done with it, so to go back through it and meticulously edit… That was effort to me! The creative process I love, but I don’t think I have all the patience that’s required to be a writer. We’ll see if I can develop it!
So where did the idea for the novel come from?
I don’t actually know! If I look back, I believe I saw an image of a white Tibetan mastiff just randomly. I though it looked particularly weathered and noble, and I loved that idea, so I tried to form something around it. I love anthropomorphic animal stories. ’Watership Down’ is one of my favourite novels, and I don’t know if you noticed, but the rabbits in ‘The Hill Ghost’ occasionally use a few of ‘Watership Down’’s Lapine words, little rabbit words. All of the characters were originally named after locations in the Elder Scrolls games but, for copyright reasons, I had to change them. In the printed version though, there’s one that was missed, so it still says “Morrowind” where it should say “Morrannyn”. But it was a joy to write! I tried to make fun of and emulate classic English literature, but still writing whatever came to mind? It’s a bit of a cluster-fuck of a novel!
It was a cluster-fuck when (spoiler) died! That was such a Walking Dead moment! That was Enid on a pike!
(laughs) It was a bit, wasn’t it! “Oh, the head’s come off!”
So what’s coming next?
Well, the idea that I’m working on at the moment is also pretty ridiculous. Writing a book, in some ways, necessitates having an ego. So I like to disarm people’s notions going in. The book I’m working on at the moment is semi-humourous. Or, at least, the setting is humourous. I’m trying to write a book from age-of-sail ship combat… But from jumbo jets… (laughs)
Really high-propriety English on-ship hierarchy, but, inexplicably, in the sky, in jumbo jets. So we’ll see if that comes together. I don’t know that it will! There’s always ideas bouncing around, and it’s always hard for me to settle on one. When ‘The Hill Ghost’ was coming to an end, I was like “wow, I’ve actually written a book!”, so I’m glad someone read it!
Catch the season finale of The Walking Dead, Monday April 1st at 9pm, only on FOX