From Savior to Alexandrian, Matt Mangum Opens Up About Playing DJ on "The Walking Dead"
Matt Mangum, who played DJ on The Walking Dead, sat down for an Interview with Dead Talk Live. Below are some of the highlights from his interview.
Your introduction to the show was in the midseason eight finales. What was your experience like having that be your first episode on the show?
That night was a ton of fun; I did a total of 16 episodes on the show, which was the only night that had an overnight shoot. So that was my only one. That was a fun, great night.
What is it like having Michael Satrazemis be your first director on the walking dead?
Michael Satrazemis is great. I ended up doing 2-3 episodes with up. I had met him before in the Atlanta Film community. It was great, and he is one of my favorite directors.
You were on the set with Andrew Lincoln’s last episode. What was the atmosphere like around the set around the cast members?
I wasn’t in Andrew’s last episode. I was in the episode right before it and right after it. The feeling around the set was saying what the show was going to be without Andrew Lincoln. I mean, everyone else’s there, which is great. But when you think of Walking dead, you think of Andrew Lincoln. Everyone was in the mode of wondering what it was gonna be like. Still, luckily, we had incredible writers, so it worked out and kept running.
You got to work with Scott Gimple as well as Angela Kang. What would you say is the biggest difference in how they run the show?
Speaking from the actor’s perspective, we had a little bit more freedom under Angela. Scott ran a pretty tight shift as far as dialogue, even down to every word. There was a bit under Angela to not necessarily be on every single word as written. I’m sure for guys like Norman and Jeffrey, they could probably speak to a lot bigger differences than I could, but for me, that was the biggest difference. It seemed like I had a little bit more freedom as an actor under Angela. It doesn’t mean that tight shifts under Scott are a bad thing. It’s just for actors; it’s just different. Like the freedom to play with the dialogue, I, as an actor, like the freedom with what I feel like. It’s not a good or bad thing; it’s a difference in leadership.
As a fan of the shoe before you got the role did you continue to watch the show after your time on the show ended?
Yes, I watch it every Sunday night at 9 o’clock.
How do you think Angela handled the whisperer arc?
I thought it was great. From what I’ve heard fans talk about the show, I think they felt like the savior arc was probably too long, and so I think it was good for the whisperer arc to be what it was. I think they did great.
At the start of season 9, primarily in the first 4 episodes, we saw DJ trying to integrate into the new way of life under Rick’s rule for lack of a better term. Still, you were not taking everything he was throwing your way. What do you think bothered the saviors trying to integrate the most about their treatment from Rick and the gang?
I think the saviors were the surviving ones, all about integrating. What changed their mind was when saviors started disappearing and dying, which was the key to them. One of your people is picking us off. The uprising that happened was purely for survival, which is what the entire show is about to survive, and saviors simply wanted to survive. They tried to convince Rick and the group to let them do it.
Which past character was no longer on the show when you came on would you have loved to share a scene with?
It’s Abraham. Part of it is because I think outside of Negan, I think Abraham had some of the show’s best dialogue. Down to “Suck my nuts.” That was also his final line in Negan. He had the best dialogue, and he was just a badass in that role. I like to think DJ is a badass, so I would have loved to have seen the two of them together. I did two episodes with Cudlitz, and he ended up directing. He is such an amazing director and ended up being one of my favorite people I got to meet in my entirety of being on the show. Even before working with him from an actor-director standpoint, I think Abraham might have been my answer. Maybe Shan just because he was such a loose cannon at the end, but yes, probably Abraham.
Matt Mangum, The Walking Dead