Terry Crews Talks 'Tales of the Walking Dead,' Reuniting With Olivia Munn and Killing Zombies (Exclusive)

Tales of the Walking Dead

While The Walking Dead series is winding down, with its last eight episodes airing in the fall, the zombie universe continues to expand, with Tales of the Walking Dead being the latest installment in the franchise. The six-part, episodic anthology gives audiences a different perspective on the apocalypse as it tells various unexpected, standalone stories, including one about a doomsday prepper named Joe played by Terry Crews

“It was just an honor,” the actor tells ET about joining the franchise. “I’m just proud that Tales is a part of this whole thing.”

For Crews, the series is not only a chance to officially join the Walking Dead franchise he’s long been a fan of, but it was also an opportunity to extend the legacy of George A. Romero’s 1968 horror classic, Night of the Living Dead, which featured a Black protagonist and hero played by Duane Jones. 

“It was like Duane Jones, part two, you know what I mean?” Crews says. “That’s all I could think about. I mean, I must have been 11 years old the first time I saw Night of the Living Dead. So, I was shook, like, ‘What?’ And to be in the same sort of world with The Walking Dead, it’s like, ‘Oh my God, I’m here!’” 

[Warning: Spoilers for Tales of the Walking Dead premiere episode, “Evie/Joe”]

Tales of the Walking Dead

In “Evie/Joe,” Joe lives a life of seclusion in a home he fortified years in advance of the outbreak. Despite the friends he made on the internet, he finds himself lonely and isolated after a zombie kills his one companion, his beloved dog Gilligan. And that’s when he decides to venture out of his safe space and into the unknown to find a woman he connected with through chat rooms prior to society’s collapse. 

However, his journey outside is upended by an encounter with Evie (Olivia Munn), a free spirit with exceptional survival skills who both perplexes and astonishes Joe. Realizing they’re both on similar missions, the two travel the open road together to only realize their personalities are on very different paths. 

“First of all, it’s almost like they were studying me a little bit, you know what I mean? And I love that because I got to really bring who I am into Joe,” Crews says, referring to showrunner Channing Powell and episode writers Maya Goldsmith and Ben Sokolowski. 

For the actor, playing Joe was a chance to channel his own upbringing in Flint, Michigan, as he navigated the crack epidemic and subsequent violence that followed the closure of the auto plants in the area. “I remember just feeling like I gotta get outta here,” he recalls, adding, “I felt like Joe did. I felt like, ‘Man, I gotta get ready for this end.’”

While he could bring a wealth of experience and background to the story, it didn’t hurt that the episode reunited him with Munn, his former co-star on The Newsroom. Since starring on the 2012 Aaron Sorkin series, the two have become good friends, with the two bumping into each other often. 

“She’s just the best. And, you know, once I took the role, I got a text from her saying, ‘Hey, Joe.’ And I was like, ‘How does she know that?’ And so I said, ‘Hey, are you gonna be Evie?’ And she’s like, ‘Yep. I’m Evie.’ And I couldn’t believe it,” Crews recalls. “She said, ‘Man, I just had this baby and now my first job is gonna be killing zombies.’”

It wasn’t long before the two were in Atlanta, Georgia, where most of the series is shot, for 10 days of filming -- and killing zombies -- under the direction of Ron Underwood, who previously helmed Tremors and City Slickers. And it was during the time Crews notes how impressed he was by his co-star’s understanding of what they were doing. 

“One thing I love about Olivia is that she gets the tone. She gets it. She can do comedy, she can do horror, she can do drama. And I have to say that, you know, you’re only as good as the people you’re paired with,” Crews says. 

Tales of the Walking Dead

As for getting to take a swing at the undead, it’s something the actor will never forget. “Oh, man,” Crews says with glee as he recalls being on set for Joe’s first major zombie kill. “One of the zombies kills my dog, Gilligan, and there I go with a knife to his head… I know how to do this stuff ‘cause I’ve watched it so much and I’m like, ‘I did it.’” 

“You have to understand, man, I’m this kid from the Midwest who is living a dream,” he continues, explaining that ever since he saw Night of the Living Dead, the movie “changed my life forever because you saw a Black hero actually survive to the end.” 

And like Jones’ character, Ben, Joe also survives his episode, even if it turns out that the woman he longed after catfished and drugged him. Luckily for him, Evie comes to his aid and they are able to escape the woman’s fortified home. “She’s got all these other agendas,” the actor says of Sandra, who turned out to be his worst nightmare, while happy that “Evie’s the one who ends up saving him, which I thought was a beautiful twist.”

That said, “the way the episode ends is very hopeful due to the fact that they don’t die and the fact that they move on,” he continues, admitting that he’s still worried about what comes next for them. “I think there’s a super, super dark future waiting for them. We’re only a little more than a year into the apocalypse.” 

While Joe and Evie’s story ends here -- with the following installments of Tales of the Walking Dead following different characters at different points in time of the apocalypse -- Crews hopes that his time in the franchise isn’t over just yet. With more spin-offs coming -- one focused on Rick and Michonne (Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira) and another following Negan and Maggie (Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Lauren Cohan) -- the actor is ready to return for more zombie action. 

“I would be willing to come back at any time in any of these spin-offs,” Crews says, explaining that because Joe didn’t die, “I do want to do more. I am open to any way they want the Joe storyline to go. I would really be open to that because I trust this team so much.” 

Tales of the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC and AMC+, with the first two episodes streaming on AMC+. Subsequent episodes will stream one week early, beginning Sunday, Aug. 21.


'Tales of the Walking Dead' Shares Extended Trailer for New Spinoff

Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira Announce 'Walking Dead' Spin-Off During Comic-Con

'The Walking Dead' Debuts Trailer for Final Episodes of Season 11

Related Gallery