ANNET MAHENDRU TALKS CHARACTER JENNIFER “HUCK” MALLICK AND THE CRM.

Annet Mahendru had a lot to say about her multi-faceted role of Jennifer Mallick, aka HUCK from The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Here I sit down with my really comfortable-looking friend, talking CRM, mother/daughter relationships, the ending of a vibrant kick-ass show, and fighting in fire!

HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THE WALKING DEAD?

AND I READ SOMEWHERE THAT YOUR AUDITION INCLUDED POST-IT NOTES? AND BASING JENNY ON SHANE WALSH.

 

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Nico Tortorella as Felix; group – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/AMC

ANNET MAHENDRU: That’s right! I have to talk to Scott M. Gimple (second showrunner of World Beyond) about those post-it notes. I think he’s also forgotten what that was about. It was just loose and–to get a sense of how I move in the room.

ANNET: If I can be silly I suppose. I’ve asked him at some point:

 

“I did that to you?” (Gimple’s paraphrased response.)

 

ANNET: Yeah! You gave me post-it notes before I had to do this serious scene. (in response to Gimple.)

 

ANNET MAHENDRU’S AUDITION

ANNET: I was trying to put one up really up high on the wall. It was really bizarre. If anything, it threw me off. Probably. But, hey! He liked it.

ANNET: It was such a great idea.

SECRET AUDITION SIDES (script)

ANNET: No. All I had was mock sides that were between two cops, which were Huck and Felix. Code names. I don’t remember what the names were.

ANNET: I started going through The Walking Dead again. I watched the first four episodes. Season one. It was Shane and Rick. I immediately aligned myself with that, because it seemed that’s who we were in the sides.

ANNET: I was right, luckily. Yes! I suppose you pick up on these things subconsciously. It guides your decision-making.

Annet Mahendru
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The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

 

¬†JENNY SEEMS SOFTER THAN SHANE…

ANNET: You think so? She seems so rough to me.

 

BUT ON THE INSIDE.

ANNET: She’s a woman. And we get into that side, actually. Season two.

 

 

WHAT’S IT LIKE TO PORTRAY SUCH A MULTI-FACETED CHARACTER?

 

ANNET: It’s always an honor. Matt (Matthew Negrete, creator/showrunner) has said some things:

 

“Look, it’s gonna’ be–she’s tied into–she’s on a mission, etc.” (paraphrasing Matt’s idea.)

 

ANNET: But I was rolling with the flow–and she–I was so excited that the first five episodes, Huck was just chilling with the group. I never get to do that in my other characters:

 

(pretending to be Starstruck/frozen in time) “I was literally just doing that! I wasn’t even thinking much about the alternative mission. Because my mission was to be really part of make this my new life. I did, and it was so nice and so lax. I loved it!”

ANNET: I (Huck) didn’t have to kill. I didn’t have to do anything! (laughs) I was chillin’!

HERE WE GO AGAIN.

Annet Mahendru
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The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

 

I MENTIONED HER BEING THE SECOND BABYSITTER

ANNET: Yeah! How great is that? Not responsible at all!

 

WERE THERE ANY PERSONAL ASPECTS OF YOURSELF THAT YOU PUT INTO HER?

ANNET:¬†I think it happens without me–I tend to not play myself because I try to be someone else. I think ultimately why I got the part was because no one ever really knows what I’m talking about. Because I talk generally and what my alignment is, where I’m from.

ANNET: Huck’s like that. Is she good? Is she bad? Whose team is she on? Even though she plays multiple sides, there is a core to her there. Principles and values that anybody can relate to.

ANNET: That’s very respectable, and I think that’s why people have empathy towards her. Even though she does these brutal things

 

SHE DOES THINGS BECAUSE SHE HAS TO. SAVING PEOPLE, ETC. A CONSCIENCE.

ANNET: There’s a greater good. She doesn’t fight for herself. She fights for something bigger. She’s ready to put herself on the line for stuff because she knows it’s all temporary. It’s all fleeting and we all play our roles. You have to be O.K. with that.

 

HUCK’S POSITIVITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA HAS HELPED PEOPLE THROUGH COVID.

ANNET: She helps us all get through the last year. Her attitude is just so doable, she just goes with the flow.

 

“This is what it is, it could always be worse! It could always be better! So let’s just stick to that!”

ANNET: I’ve definitely clung to her more so than ever. During the last year.

 

ANNET: I think the only negative thing I’ve gotten was that people have a hard time understanding her. And maybe that’s also her alignments–we’ll learn more about her in season 2, so I’m okay with that!

ON KEEPING PLOT LINES SECRET.

ANNET: And I never could talk much about my character to the press, there’s always been:

“I can’t really answer your questions. And still even with season one, you don’t truly know what’s going on at the CRM and what role she plays there.”

 

ANNET: That’s been frustrating. And I can see how people would be frustrated by that. And that’s okay! Good things are worth waiting for.

 

WORKING WITH MICHAEL CUDLITZ AND POSSIBLY JEN BEING IN THE SERVICE WITH ABRAHAM.

 

ANNET: It was really awesome cause’, Sergeant Abraham. It was my Marine coming out flashback episode. I really was just pampered because I had him and then I had a real sergeant who was training me. And the rest of the guys, Drake and the troop–I felt like I was in boot camp. It was a priceless moment in my life! I was so submerged in Huck.

“It was incredible Yeah, it was incredible. Because what Cudlitz really brings to the table, he’s really tough and yet he’s very kind and very curious and interested.”

He’s really very much aligned in that. He told the story and really tapped into her the proper way. I was just really fortunate.

As far as relating to other shows and things like that, our creator (Negrete) has such great backstories for us and we tapped into a lot of it. We managed to do it this season because we have to wrap up the show and it’s just really intense!

We dove into all of these great things he had planned for us over the next ten years! Right? That we squeezed into this epic ten-episode finale season.

We get into a lot of that and he’s done such an incredible job. Hats off to him!

Anything is possible!

 

I MENTIONED HOW HUCK AND AL WOULD BE COOL TOGETHER BECAUSE DRAKE WAS KIND OF A DICK.

 

ANNET: Yeah! All those gals are awesome and I love the parallels you’re drawing. It actually inspires things when I go back and get into Huck.

 

LORETTE: Author’s note: I run a popular social media blog for her character, pretty badass that she takes my ideas and uses them for the show! What do actors do during Covid? Write. I can’t finish a novel to save my life, so why not throw myself into a fictional character?

ANNET: (continued) What the fans are seeing and the relations they’re making–it’s (sic) treasures. It’s gifts to go back into and say “Oh, okay, that’s what she’s giving off!

 

WHAT’S THE SKINNY ON JEN AND FELIX? (WAY TOO MUCH PLATONIC LOVE THERE.)

ANNET: Yeah, they definitely have each other’s backs. There’s a really precious relationship there that she hasn’t had. With Drake it was obviously romantic love and that’s more complicated. With Felix is was purely, we’re just two buds. Doing our thing. He has good intentions and so does Huck.

A LONELY SOUL

Annet Mahendru
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Nico Tortorella as Felix, Alexa Mansour as Hope – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 10 – Photo Credit: Macall Polay/AMC

 

“They really met there and that’s a pure place to me. They had this childlike relationship and in some ways even though they’re tough security guards. It just was really sweet and I know he’s very hurt. It’s gonna’ take a lot of reparation for him to trust her again. His falling out with his parents. She’s disappointed him. It’s gonna’ be tough getting back together and aligning ourselves. “

I don’t think it’s impossible.

WILL THEY, WON’T THEY?

Felix has a hard time breaking loyalties. And he’s been with this one family that’s been his unit his whole life and he’s never done what Huck has done as far as bounced out. Or picked another side. Just this sort of brutal–in the heat of the moment decisions.

 

He hasn’t had to really live that. You have to live that to truly understand that.

 

HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE SHE’S SEEN ELIZABETH AS A KID AND THE HISTORY WITH HER DAD?

ANNET: Yeah! We’ll also get into the dad part, and the mom part. It’s a big part of season two. As they are approaching the CRM.

 

She hasn’t spent much time–her mom is so successful, she’s been all around the world. Jenny has been with her uncle in Queens (New York), growing up with friends really and then joining the forces. And carving her own way in the footsteps of her parents, there were issues there. She’s rebelling against their ways and how they go about things.

And that’s good for her! All kids do that. Our whole life we do want closure and we want an understanding of why they did the things they did and she will. She will get some of those things answered once she’s back home. At the CRM.

What a home to grow up in!

WHAT IS WITH THE LETTUCE?

ANNET: Look! I haven’t heard of a soldier who eats salad! Protein, protein, protein!

 

DID JEN RUN FROM LIZ EARLY ON? AND WAS THERE A TRACKER IN HER DAD’S WATCH?

ANNET: It’s a really good question! I’ve wondered about that too. We all have. And Huck is so–she could probably take that watch apart and put it back together (thus removing the tracker most likely.) For Liz to throw that in the mix would be–a bit tampering with an already fragile relationship there. It’s kosher.

 

ANNET: She led those civilians to safety–and the Civic Republic. Yeah, mom probably had to redeem her because she wasn’t supposed to do that she was supposed to kill them all. I think Jen was able to prove that:

“Hey, these people are not diseased.”

ANNET: That was just a moment–that decision made in the heat of the moment. That wasn’t correct. It obviously helps to have a mother in high places!

 

ON HAVING A REUNION YEARS AFTER SUNSET PROTOCOL (Marines)

ANNET: We will cover their relationship. There’s gonna’ be a lot of good moments to find clarity. How it all happened and how and why.

 

DOES HUCK GET ALONG WITH ANNE (JADIS) AND ISABELLE?

ANNET: You know Huck. You have to, you have to at least try and then see what happens. And if you don’t, you don’t.

It’s all up for grabs! And again, this season will just be explosive. It has to be. There are so many loose ends. Season one was covering all of these beginnings, right? Season two literally has to cover all of the ends. And we will get there!

ON HER ROMANTIC PAST WITH DRAKE

ANNET: They were in Afghanistan together. He was her sergeant at the time. They really trusted each other and they only had each other. It was her first tour. She’s seen some things with him on the field that she is still digesting.

Annet Mahendru
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Gil Perez-Abraham (Drake) Courtesy of AMC.

That’s what comes up at the jukebox and he’s sort of: “This is what it is.” That’s the end of the conversation. He’s been her mentor and teacher. There was great love. It was a really tough thing. Nothing in her life came easy.

PTSD, it stays with you. It’s such huge trauma that she’ll be digesting for the rest of her life.

 

GIRL, YOU GOT HIT IN THE BACK WITH A CUPBOARD DOOR! AND THE FIRE.

ANNET: That, I was praying before each take for our stunt doubles and us. Because Nico and I like to do everything ourselves as well. I don’t think you think about the fire for rehearsals.

“Hey, there will be a fire!” You can’t practice for a fire, so you’re just sort of:

 

“Oh my gosh! Now I have to do everything that I’ve learned and I can’t really breathe! I just have to do it in one breath. Like, underwater. On fire! It was this weird thing.”

 

We did it all! Jumping from the staircase! “I can do it!” (about doing the stunt herself). But in retrospect, God forbid you get hurt dropping from the stairs! And then you can’t do the rest of the fight. It was the adrenaline, I suppose.

That, and God! Everything was done safely and we were able to do it, because of AMC, and The Walking Dead.

They know how to take care of–how to make all of this happen. We were able to get in there and do everything! It was such a great experience. Where else do I get to do such an action?!

 

TELL US JEN DOESN’T DIE. DO WE NEED TISSUES?

ANNET: The show dies, and In some grand scheme, it’s the end. But because of fans like you, these characters live forever. And you connect the dots in these unique, amazing ways. I thank you for that.

We should always cry! That’s the only way to digest everything! Great laughter, which ends in tears. Anger should all end in tears. That’s how you move on. Some tissues or a towel!

Annet Mahendru is repped by the Paradigm Agency, The Bohemia Group, and Platform PR.

THE WALKING DEAD: WORLD BEYOND IS OUT ON DVD AND BLU-RAY ON JUNE 15TH

 

FOLLOW LORETTE ON TWITTER AND INSTAGRAM

About the author: Katie Harden is a professionally repped New York-based/bi-coastal musical theater, entertainment journalist, and indie film actress. She is proudly part of the Actor’s Equity Association and frequently interviews colleagues, friends, and celebrities, along with reviewing television and movies. Find her at the bottom of a can of Arizona sweet tea or in the ocean!

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