Antonella Rose is a triple threat. She can act, she can sing, play music, she can dance…and a few other hundred things.
An absolute delight to interview back in October/November, Rose is just as spunky and passionate as you see her on screen. With her mother sitting across from her, much like mine used to do. (Hi, Mrs. Rose! Such a delight to have met you!)–we covered everything the fans wanted and more.
PRELUDE: HELL HATH NO FURY LIKE A CHILD SCORNED
Meet Tracy Otto. Stubborn and spunky with a touch of vengeful and a good heart.
RECAP: PREVIOUSLY ON SEASON 3
When we last left off in season three of Fear: The Walking Dead, sociopath Troy Otto (Daniel Sharman) had been smacked by a hammer twice (which was a very solid death), cracked his neck, and then was seen floating above the water.
OKAY, BUT SOME OF THESE CHARACTERS ACTUALLY DIED.
But this is a fantasy zombie show, anyone can come back for any such ridiculous reasons even if they make no sense (shoutout to Madison Clark also for her solid death).
Despite AMC receiving peer pressure from endless social media comments to bring back canon long-dead characters, Troy finally gets somewhat of a happy ending. He found love in a woman named Serena and the two had a child named Tracy.
WHY I GENERALLY LIKED TROY.
And he’s better than Negan’s character (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). I said what I said. Now, I’ll say that I liked Troy because he made season three much more interesting. He was brash, playful, and overall nuts so it was a breath of fresh air (despite the usual cliche plot of having a kid) to meet Tracy.
SO THEY HAD A KID…
This is probably the only time that I have seen a show where said plotline works. Especially when it is masterfully acted by Rose, who is so wise beyond her years. Even my buddy writer Nick Bernadone is in awe of her.
This is a character that she has crafted from the ground up, she makes it her own so it’s even more than what is just on the pages of a script.
HOW DID YOU GET THE AUDITION? AND WHAT WERE CALLBACKS LIKE?
Antonella Rose: It was a very long process. There were always additional scenes that they were handing out to me and other chemistry reads.
AR: [Paraphrasing Producers], “Do these exercises. Show us how you can fight with a staff.”
AR: Initially I had auditioned for Mo (Morgan’s adopted daughter played by Zoey Merchant) And on the last day, they said: We love you, but you didn’t get Mo.
AR: I was devastated. I kept thinking during those few days–What did I do wrong? What happened?
AR: But then, some weeks later, they asked me if I wanted to audition for Tracy. I was so excited.
AR: And I’m thinking, I am going to nail this audition. And they will not turn me down because I’m gonna do amazing.
AR: And me having no idea, I was told while we were filming that on the day I didn’t book Mo, you booked Tracy.
Katie Harden: Oh, get out! [Utterly flabbergasted by Rose’s and her chosen career of show business.]
KH: All that stewing and worrying and they ended up booking you anyway. Casting directors are CONFUSING. Just tell us what you want!
AR: I know. It was so cool!
KH: Yeah. Wow. Yeah, this business is really hard. It’s 99% rejection. Don’t feel bad. Hey, you got something better.
AR: My life just shut down over those last (after her audition for Mo) few weeks. I put so much work into it.
KH: Exactly. I know what that’s like. Having a big audition and you want it so bad. Going to audition to audition to audition. Your mantra is that I didn’t get this one! So next! And then you have that one that you set your soul and your heart on and you just shut down for a week.
KH: But see, you got something. You have a very memorable role. And you’re the last kid now.
AR: I feel like Tracy is just me.
DID YOU SEE THE SHOW BEFORE YOU GOT THE ROLE?
AR: I did not because my parents, didn’t let me watch it. Not because of the scary things. Because I love horror movies.
AR: There was adult content in it.
KH: [Laughs agreeing with her mother.]
AR: After I got the role, I did watch a few seasons. Just to get the vibe and the feel of the show.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST DAY ON SET LIKE? & FIRST SCENE SHOT?
AR: We only had one scene on my first day, which was before all of the craziness.
AR: During that day, I didn’t get to meet much of the cast, but I met the crew and everyone. They were so nice and special to me, and I will never forget them.
AR: I remember after the scene, Mr. Colman (Colman Domingo) told me, “Girl, you’re amazing!” It was my motivation.
AR: My first scene was my introduction in episode nine.
HOW FAR BACK DID THE SCENE TAKE PLACE WHERE YOU FIRST MEET STRAND?
KH: Was it a flashback? You look about six years old. Bug-eyed and all.
AR: I’m glad that you asked me this question because a lot of people have been wondering if I had to do 20-something different takes. (She did.)
AR: On the last take, the director asked for a fun one. He asked if I could do a little more of a bug-eyed look because you know who Strand is because Troy told you about him.
AR: So I did that, and that’s the scene they picked! I do have naturally pretty doe-like eyes. [Making wide eyes]
AR: That’s just what the director told me to do and I think it makes sense. But I do also admit that I looked a little scary!
KH: Yeah! You looked terrified!
AR: She ran away from the truck, and a few days later Strand found her and kidnapped her. So I guess it would have been a few days later.
AR: A lot of people have told me I look younger on camera, so I guess I’ll take that as a compliment!
IS IT SAFE TO SAY THAT SHE WAS A SHELTERED CHILD?
KH: She hadn’t seen a running truck before and she was terrified of the walkers, except for her mother who was among the dead.
AR: Knowing Troy after watching those episodes. He’s a little crazy. But that’s what I like about him.
AR: You don’t find a character like that every day. Which I do think makes him memorable.
AR: Tracy changed him and the whole reason he wanted to take over P.A.D.R.E was for Tracy to have a safe space to grow up in.
AR: I believe he would have trained her in self-defense but only as she grew older.
AR: On her character breakdown (the description of a character before you audition.) it said that she was about 11 years old. But I think they changed it to 10.
AR: Tracy said that she has been trained in field medicine by Troy. So I just imagined that she would have been trained in some sort of self-defense, but after being kidnapped I would imagine her training was cut short, which is why she wasn’t confident.
AR: You can see it in the scene where she climbed out of the log. Eventually killing the zombies.
KH: that was great that she finally did get her kill. She got three kills if I remember correctly.
AR: He taught her well. Technically, Madison killed the third one.
KH: She was going for that third kill.
AR: [Laughs] She said, that’s mine!
WAS HER GOAL TO KILL MADISON?
KH: She aimed right for the heart. Usually in that type of world (but it would not be sensible for a child to know.) But double tap!
AR: There was a scene in the car with Tracy. And Tracy even asked Troy if they had to kill Madison.
AR: She was really confused. She didn’t know what to think. Because Troy kept putting it in her mind that we had to kill Madison because she did all of these horrible things to us.
AR: After Tracy got to know her, she didn’t know what to think anymore. Madison seemed nice.
AR: Troy makes her seem mean, that’s what she was thinking. She was feeling a lot of things. And it all happened so fast.
AR: Tracy just saw the gun and thought about what her father would say if she didn’t take that opportunity.
AR: She would have just done whatever she had to do to make her father happy, because she cares about her father a lot.
HOW LONG WAS SERENA AROUND FOR HER?
KH: Because it seems like Alicia cut off her arm but she didn’t immediately you know, succumb (said weirdly in my New England accent) to her wounds and she was shot. Was Tracy maybe about three or four when she passed? Because she seemed to recognize her as a walker.
AR: I think Tracy was maybe a year old or a year and a half, because of the way that Troy said Serena was only around for a little bit of her childhood.
AR: But I do think that Troy had told her that she (Serena) was her mother and showed her photos. The same way that Madison could tell that her mother’s walker wasn’t Alicia. Little ways of telling who is who.
AR: You can maybe still identify the facial features and the hair.
KH: Right. The dark hair.
AR: My opinion. My headcanon [air quotes with fingers]. I’m learning the lingo.
WHAT WOULD TRACY THINK IF SHE KNEW EVERYTHING THAT TROY DID?
KH: He did some seriously bad violent things that stem from his traumatic childhood. His parents were awful. And of course, he named Tracy after his mother who was an addict and all sorts of things. Did he only tell her one side of the story?
AR: I don’t think that she would have entirely condoned what he did because she acted so shocked and betrayed when he told her that he had lied. There’s more that he hasn’t been telling her.
AR: Tracy was lied to her whole life and everything that he told her, everything that she grew up believing isn’t true.
AR: Which I think would also lead to her questioning everything that he’s ever told her.
KH: It did seem she was questioning some of his actions, especially when they were in the truck right before the crash.
KH: [Paraphrasing Tracy] Do we really need to be doing this?
KH: We wonder if she’s had some of his darkness in her, or if she truly is innocent, even under his care because you’re sheltered. But at the same time when she goes to shoot Madison. When she’s killing the walkers and sassing Strand. You have to wonder…
IS THERE A LITTLE BIT OF TROY IN HER?
AR: Oh, yeah. Being raised by Troy, she has that sarcasm. Right. That sassiness. That attitude. She’s definitely like a little mini-Troy. Everybody’s putting these different things in her head and telling her a different story. She has to rely on herself.
KH: She has all these different people that are coming to her and she’s only really known her dad. And Russell. I’m assuming that’s like her uncle Russell?
AR: It was his right hand, man.
KH: Yes. But does she consider him like family?
AR: I don’t think she got to properly know her actual uncle, Jake.
KH: [Trying to drive the point home.] But it seemed like Russell was becoming like Troy’s best friend and he cared about Tracy as well.
AR: Troy said to take care of Tracy and to find her. And he tried to keep that promise.
KH: And that didn’t end well.
DID YOU STUDY DANIEL SHARMAN’S MANNERISMS OR HIS DIALOGUE?
KH: Aside from literally being his twin in child form, you seem to mirror a lot of Troy. Everything from when she leans back on her feet in a stance to her sarcastic quips.
AR: Yeah, I watched a few episodes. I like to study my characters and get into them so I know what I’m getting myself into.
AR: While I was watching, noticed a few things here and there and knew it reminded me of Tracy.
AR: This is who Tracy is. She’s sassy. She has an attitude. She’s a little mini Troy.
AR: After spending time with Alicia, I think that she’s going to start helping people. Like how her mother Serena was. Now that he’s gone, she wants to do what her mother always wanted to do.
AR: But she’ll never lose that. It’s always a part of her.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO EMBARRASS STRAND?
AR: That was a very fun scene. It was raining out when we did the scene and there’s a tent that’s put up around us.
AR: Especially when watching that episode…
“Whoa! It doesn’t even look rainy. It doesn’t even look like anything’s wet!”
AR: After getting used to Strand, she knows he wouldn’t do anything to harm her because she needs to be used as leverage.
AR: She has her ways. Tracy is Troy’s kid and knows what she’s getting herself into.
KH: She jumps off a boat with her hands tied and swims to shore. How does that even happen?!
AR: I watched my stunt double do it. And I’m so grateful for her because it looked like she was being pulled from all sides. And she couldn’t win at all.
WHAT IS YOUR STUNT DOUBLE’S NAME?
AR: I had quite a couple. Trisha (Tricia?) jumped off. And Molly Miller jumped off. And I had Trisha do the other big stunts. They were so amazing.
KH: It’s better than breaking your neck!
AR: Right? I just love them so much. And I appreciate all that they do.
WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD HAPPEN IF TROY LIVED?
KH: It might be safe to say they should get out of there and find their own way because it seemed like you guys just weren’t going to get along with Madison or Daniel.
AR: I think that Tracy would change Troy. Just having a kid already did so much to Troy. So I think if Tracy just kept telling him, Dad, this isn’t right–he would just want to do anything for his daughter to make her happy. It’s always going to be crazy.
HOW LONG DID STRAND ACTUALLY KNOW TROY?
KH: The show didn’t touch up on this. But I’m wondering as an actor, what was your estimation? Because he saw him for all of 10 seconds in season three, and then all of a sudden he knows him. Nobody knows Troy like him!
AR: You can see Strand preparing everything. It seemed like he was listening to the walkie-talkie about Troy. He has lots of companions, and they would all be telling stories about him.
AR: Oh, Troy did this to my family. Troy’s planning on doing this to P.A.D.R.E etc. Strand is just listening to everything everyone says about him.
GUYS, GET OFF OF THE RADIO IF YOU WANT TO SURVIVE.
Editor: That was a big question all of the fans were asking. How everyone suddenly knew everything about everyone and how dangerous and stupid it was to be on the radio 24/7 to everyone and their mother listening in on the airwaves. This was also touched upon finally in the season.
AR: They also could maybe have a little off-screen time. Didn’t we have…what was it? A ten-year or twelve-year time skip?
KH: I think it was eight. Because Tracy is eight now.
AR: Tracy’s ten.
KH: Is she? (Despite knowing through the interview what the character’s age was and just common sense, an AMC after-episode segment via an FTWD showrunner confirmed that she was eight years old.)
AR: [Thinking of all the internet and different random sources] She has ten different ages, so.
KH: Well if you think she’s ten, then she’s ten! I think she’s more of a ten-year-old. Ten or eleven.
AR: She has a billion different ages from a billion different people. Like the breakdown that said she was ten, then eleven. And now somewhere on the official site, she was 10. And then other people are saying no, she’s this age. So you know what? I’ll let you guys think and have your headcanons.
Editor: Confirmation, Tracy Otto is ten years old despite the segment.
I KNOW YOU KEPT THE RUBBER GLASS FROM THE CRASH SCENE AND THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR TOP. DID YOU GET TO KEEP ANY OF THE COSTUMES?
AR: Ever since I put that jacket on, I loved it. They said they might send it to me after the show’s over.
KH: Oh, okay!
AR: In the end, they were giving out these stickers and these pens. I have this zombie pin, and a hair and makeup sticker. I also made one of my own stickers. I made the little Fear: The Walking Dead kids sticker.
AR: We gave it out to a few people. I think I even got a guitar pick!
AR: Oh! [Excitedly] From the director, Mr. Michael Satrazemis, I got a beach chair with Fear: The Walking Dead on it.
KH: That’s awesome!
DO YOU THINK TRACY HAS SOME MUSICAL ABILITY?
AR: She tries, but I don’t think she would be the best. There are no singing lessons and Troy would have kept her very sheltered at the hotel.
IF THINGS HAD GONE A DIFFERENT WAY, DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE WANTED TO PLAY TRACY AS A WALKER?
KH: A fan sent in that question.
AR: I have so much respect for the stunt doubles and the stunt walkers. They have to stay there out in the sun for hours. Tracy is the last Otto and she has to live a little longer! Keep the bloodline going.
WHY DID TRACY ACCEPT MADISON BACK INTO HER LIFE SO QUICKLY?
KH: Was it out of fear of not wanting to be an orphan? I think that she would hold onto more rage against her, but I feel like she is smart enough to know that Alicia didn’t kill her mother. It was an accident. Troy seemed to carry that on a little in terms of revenge. And Tracy seemed to soften up a little bit to it after a while.
AR: She did what she had to do to survive. She was just trying to do whatever and she had lost her dad.
AR: Even if Tracy didn’t believe it truly in her heart, she wanted to believe it, just to be at peace.
AR: You can see it when she was caring for Madison and she was suffocating. Tracy wants a family even if she knows Madison isn’t her grandma.
KH: It took, she said, a day to get her out of the rubble. I can’t even imagine, a 10-year-old literally sitting all day and just trying to get somebody out of trouble. She dragged her to the beach. This girl is strong.
AR: A win for Tracy!
CONSIDERING TROY’S CHILDHOOD WAS PRETTY SHELTERED, DO YOU THINK THAT TRACY HELPED EXPOSE HIM TO DIFFERENT THINGS?
KH: They must have picked over stores and such. He could have taken his time looking over every Hello Kitty box and toy store just to know their names and such.
KH: In an Instagram talk-back, you said Troy cut her hair, which is why it was uneven. Perhaps he would have to familiarize himself with things that she liked.
AR: Since she grew up in the apocalypse, she doesn’t know what the real world is like. I imagined her just finding these action figures or Hello Kitty little figures and saying: Whoa! What is this? This is so cool. I need it now!
WHAT DO YOU THINK TRACY’S REACTION WOULD BE TO MEET HER FAMILY IF THEY WERE STILL ALIVE? GRANDPARENTS… JAKE…
AR: She would like her uncle Jake. And I think her grandpa would spoil her since she’s the only kid in the family.
KH: Tracy, Jeremiah–Jerr Bear. [Laughs]
HOW DIFFICULT DO YOU THINK IT IS FOR TRACY MOVING FORWARD?
KH: She had to dig a six-foot grave and drag her father’s body all by herself. I would say she has some serious PTSD and could even possibly rebel. But it feels like you said, she’s surviving. She’s trying to fit in with this family now, but that’s a lot for her to unpack.
AR: Everyone has to have at least some sort of trauma in the apocalypse. Right? I don’t think that she would rebel against Alicia and Madison, especially since Alicia helped Serena.
AR: Troy did say Serena wanted to be more like Alicia. I guess she would want to follow in her mom’s footsteps and she would try her best at least to stick with this new family.
DO YOU HAVE ANY QUIRKS FOR TRACY? A FAVORITE COLOR ETC…
AR: I don’t think it would be one of those neutral colors that she always wears. And I think that sometimes you don’t see much of those colors in the apocalypse. Everything is black or brown. Tracy’s favorite color would be neon something.
KH: I love that. That is something that you wouldn’t expect! I was thinking purple, but that’s even more spot-on. You know her like the back of your hand!
AR: And maybe for her growing up, Tracy would get more into field medicine. Maybe a medic or a healer. Helping people around Los Angeles. And I think she would move around to different cities with Alicia and Madison to help people. Stop them from turning into zombies, etc.
KH: She probably should have latched onto June (Dorie, played by Jenna Elfman) since she’s a nurse!
KIM DICKENS WOULD CHECK TO SEE IF YOU WERE OKAY DURING DIFFICULT SCENES. WAS SHE A MAMA BEAR OUT OF CHARACTER TOO?
AR: I am this huge crybaby. I get emotional about everything, even if it’s happy or sad. And it would be a little bit hard for me to snap back out of it after the scene was done.
AR: She would come up to me and apologize for yelling at me. Just the sweetest thing ever. The biggest mama bear.
MOVING AWAY FROM FEAR: THE WALKING DEAD, GOING BACK TO YOUR OTHER CREDITS.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH CANDY STARRING JESSICA BIEL?
AR: I auditioned for the role of Christina Gore. Everybody there was amazing. It was my first big break as an actress. I’ll never forget that. I made so many friends. I learned so much.
AR: They were all amazing to me. Sharing screen time with Jessica Biel and Melanie Lynskey. They were all so sweet. Such an amazing learning experience.
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO THAT YOU HAVEN’T DONE YET?
AR: I like all types of roles because I’m very adaptable to all these different types of characters.
AR: A lot of people like to see me in these dramatic roles. I guess they like to see me cry!
AR: I like these sort of spooky, weird types of things.
AR: I’ve been watching A Series of Unfortunate Events and I like Miss Perkins Home for Peculiar Children. Some Tim Burton weirdness I would love to branch out to that!
KH: Okay, we’re putting that out into the universe casting directors listen up. She wants to do some Burton!
AR: RIGHT HERE! [Pretending to have a megaphone.]
KH: [Laughs] Like a little Lydia!
AR: I recently just watched Beetlejuice!
KH: You should check out the musical. She’s much younger. It’s supposed to be like 13 or 14 That’s almost in your wheelhouse.
AR: I haven’t seen the musical yet. But I’ve seen the videos. And I know some of the lyrics of the songs and things.
KH: Like the song Dead Mom. Do you sing? Are you into that too?
AR: Yeah! I write some songs.
KH: You’re a triple threat!
HOW BIG IS YOUR HELLO KITTY COLLECTION?
KH: I was going to show you mine but girl, there’s too much! [My Zoom background is blurred to hide the shelves and shelves of collections from my recent move to my new house, it’s a little bit of a mess!]
AR: Girl. Are you sure? Okay, my whole room! My bathroom, like, down to the shower curtain? Probably not, I have a lot of clothes! This is my Melody. [Showing me a stuffed animal] And these [Her barrettes in her hair] They’re falling!
NOW THAT OUR STRIKE IS OVER, THANK GOODNESS–ANY NEW PROJECTS?
AR: I did a movie a few months ago, and I’m in the lead role. It’s a Christmas movie with Danny DeVito, Andie McDowell, and Wilmer Valderrama. We filmed it in Italy but I can’t say much about it, only that it comes out sometime in 2024! So many talented actors!
Editor: Antonella is officially my little sister in the Hollywood industry. We’re going to see big things from her for years to come.
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! @KHardenOfficial