Lesley-Ann Brandt Praises Thorne & Rick’s Platonic Friendship in ‘TWD’ Spinoff: They’re ‘Genuinely Comrades’ (Exclusive)

Lesley-Ann Brandt and more cast members tease the next chapter of 'The Walking Dead' in the new spinoff 'The Ones Who Live.'

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Rick and Michonne’s love story is just beginning. In the new series The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, Rick and Michonne seek to find their way back to each other after being kept apart for years. In the time that’s passed, Rick and Michonne have formed new acquaintances and enemies. Hollywood Life spoke exclusively with The Ones Who Live’s Lesley-Ann Brandt, Matthew August Jeffers, Craig Tate, and Terry O’Quinn at the Television Critics Association winter press tour about their characters’ dynamics with Rick and Michonne.

Lesley-Ann plays Pearl Thorne, a member of the Civic Republic Military who crosses paths with Rick. While it remains to be seen whether or not Thorne and Michonne will meet, the Lucifer alum admitted that “outside of this world Michonne and Thorne could have been friends in the sense that they’re both strong women. When you get through the layers to this very vulnerable center, and they allow those people who are truly worthy or they fully trust in on that, I think she [Michonne] represents hope, and I think Thorne represents survival.”

The actress noted that Rick and Thorne are “actually similar when they start out. They get to a point, and the question is, what are they going to do? What makes one person do this and another do that? I try and save Rick within this world, and they’re genuinely friends.”

Lesley-Ann Brandt
Lesley-Ann Brandt and Andrew Lincoln in ‘The Ones Who Live.’ (AMC)

One aspect of Thorne and Rick’s relationship that Lesley-Ann is grateful for is that there is no romantic tension. Thorne’s not going to be a thorn in the Richonne fandom’s side.

“I did not want the heat of the: is this romantic? I was like, I don’t have the bandwidth for that,” Lesley-Ann told Hollywood Life. “That was actually a really specific question I had going into accepting the project because I think showing us male-female relationships onscreen where there are just genuinely comrades, and they’re bonding through a human experience and a journey as opposed to something sexual or romantic. I was really happy that it was never set up that way.”

While Rick and Michonne’s romance is at the center of The Ones Who Live, platonic friendships are crucial to Rick and Michonne’s lives when they’re apart. Matthew plays Nat, a close friend to Michonne.

“Platonic love stories are fascinating because we’re so ingrained to infuse sex into inter-coed relationships,” he explained. “I think you have two here in the 6-episode series of Nat and Michonne in a very similar way [to Rick and Thorne]. Different paths but a similar way of connecting over shared values. Nat and Michonne are very strong in their beliefs and both have been through it in various ways. I think it’s that thing that I was talking about in the panel where you see someone across the room, and you know that they speak your language, that they understand your plight, and that they know your journey. I think that Nat and Michonne go on a really beautiful journey together. It’s mutually beneficial. It’s a symbiotic work. Each character gets kind of what they need from the other and it was beautiful to play that with Danai [Gurira].”

Matthew August Jeffers
Matthew August Jeffers as Nat. (AMC)

Terry is no stranger to a steely, tough-as-nails character. The Lost alum plays Beale, the leader of the Civic Republic Military. His job is to protect the people of the city and “above all to protect the future of the race.” He added, “He’ll take whatever measures he thinks are necessary to do that. He doesn’t ask many people about that.”

Craig stars as Donald Okafor, a high-ranking lieutenant in the Civic Republic Military. While adhering to their CRM duties, The Ones Who Live will pull the curtains back on characters like Okafor and show that “we’re all suffering from the qualms and vendettas of the past, living in some post-apocalyptic world, and we all kind of forget sometimes.” The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live premieres February 25. The series will air Sundays on AMC and AMC+.