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How a Personal Loss Shaped Parker Posey's Unexpected Comedic Turn in Tales of the Walking Dead

The 'Blair/Gina' star talks about the unique way she entered the Walking Dead Universe

liam-mathews
Liam Mathews

The second episode of the new The Walking Dead Universe anthology series Tales of the Walking Dead is unlike anything there's ever been in any show of the franchise. One, it introduces a reality-redefining magical element in the form of a Groundhog Day-style time loop; and two, it's a comedy. But it's still The Walking Dead, and the comedy comes from how people process pain and sadness.

"Blair/Gina" is set at the very beginning of the zombie apocalypse and follows a pair of mutually antagonistic employees of an insurance company who get stuck in a time loop together and have to learn how to accept their twinned destiny and grow as people. Gina (Jillian Bell), the office's meek receptionist, hates Blair (Parker Posey), her narcissistic bully of a boss, because she treats her and her co-workers terribly. Blair is cruel to Gina because she is deeply insecure and in a lot of pain. Fate has it they end up at the same gas station and get into a conflict that culminates in them both dying in a tanker truck explosion. But then rather than passing on, they find themselves back at the office at the moment where the episode starts. They go through the loop over and over again, doing the same thing and dying every time. Eventually, they decide to work together, and as Blair learns to be kinder and Gina learns to stand up for herself, they're able to break the cycle. They're facing an uncertain, possibly unreal future — the whole thing may or may not have been in Gina's head — but they'll face it together as friends. 

Parker Posey, Tales of the Walking Dead

Parker Posey, Tales of the Walking Dead

Curts Bonds Baker/AMC

If you feel like the episode loosely follows the stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — you're not imagining it. Star Parker Posey told TV Guide that the episode came out of her and writer Kari Drake's connection forged from the experience of losing parents at around the same time. 

Drake was a writer on Lost in Space, the Netflix sci-fi series on which Posey played impostor scientist Dr. Zoe Smith. Posey's father died during production of Season 2 of Lost in Space, and Drake's mother had died about a year earlier. "I had to go down South to his funeral and come back and go to work and be, like, hosed down on top of this spacecraft," Parker said, describing the surreality of her life at that time. "I was in the shock of grief, and she helped me through it. She was like my sister in this kind of grief world." 

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Fast forward to January 2022, and Posey was back down South taking care of her mother, who was having health issues. Posey was very stressed out, but she got through it thanks to her sense of humor and the right combination of relaxing supplements, and her mother is doing better now. This is all to say Posey was going through a challenging time when she got the script Drake had written for her. And she was touched when she got to the end and read Blair's line, "Do you think we're dead? Because I really wanted to see my dad." In the episode, Posey delivers the line in a way that feels heartbreakingly real — because it is.  

"The lens that I look at this through is totally through grief and fight or flight and how a part of the sky rips away when a parent dies," Posey said. "We survive on our own, in our own kind of apocalypse." 

At the beginning of the episode, Blair and Gina are trapped in a world  — the real world — that doesn't allow people to communicate honestly about their lives. "If Blair shouted, like, 'Hey, guess what, I'm really not doing great here because my dad died,' then everyone would start crying, and they'd go like, 'God, Blair, I feel the same,'" Posey said. "'I understand your rage. It's one of the five things we go through when we're grieving.'" It takes a zombie apocalypse for Blair and Gina to get free of their emotional confines and connect on that human level. 

Posey said she likes to do horror or sci-fi stuff like Tales of the Walking Dead because it's fun to express the heightened emotion and intensity the genre requires. And she knew that her dad would have thought it was funny. So she ran lines with her aunt Peggy in Memphis — "who's like my dad in drag" — and then headed to Georgia to shoot the episode for 12 days. 

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When she got to the set, she ran into a stunt actor named Lex Geddings, whom she had previously worked with on Blade: Trinity. He was playing a zombie in the episode. She told him about her mother, and he said he would pray for her. "I'm like, 'that's so sweet, thank you," Posey said. "But he's a zombie, you know? He's got his face eaten off and his eye coming out of his head." 

"My life is so absurd," she said with a laugh. "You just take it as it comes and be in the flow of whatever's going on. And that time is definitely one of them." 

She laughed a lot while she was making the show. She said her co-star Jillian Bell "is so playful and funny, and such a pro and so smart, and understanding, you know, because I was in, like, a grief space." And she got to do a very silly horror thing she had been wanting to do for more than 20 years. 

"I wanted to pull my hair out in Scream 3," she said. "I told Wes Craven. I was like, 'Can I get so scared that I grab my head and start screaming and I pull my hair out and it's a piece of wig?' And when [director Michael E. Satrazemis] heard that, he was like, 'Ahh, let's do that!'"  

For Posey, entering the Walking Dead Universe was a great experience that came at the right time. "It was meaningful for me," she said. "I just felt really lucky." And it may not be her last time in the universe; she hopes to go back to Georgia and shadow Satrazemis while he directs an episode of Fear the Walking Dead. "I think it'd be really fun to direct," she said. So someday, Posey could join the ranks of other Walking Dead franchise actors like Michael Cudlitz, Colman Domingo, and Lennie James in making the move behind the camera. She's taking it as it comes. 

Tales of the Walking Dead

1 Season AMC
An anthology series set within The Walking Dead universe, featuring both new and old characters.
60   Metascore
2022 TVMA Horror, Fantasy, Suspense, Science Fiction