IronE Singleton's bio reads like it was scripted for a movie. Born and raised in the Perry Homes housing projects in Southwest Atlanta, his mother was a drug addict, his father was absent from his life. He used football and acting as a vehicle to get beyond his environs and seek a better future for himself. Playing football at the University of Georgia to pursue a degree in theater, Singleton later channeled his early street experiences and influences into an autobiographical one-man stage play, titled The Resurrection, where he plays 18 characters that influenced his upbringing. It's the amalgamation of those personal archetypes he manifests on screen as Alton, the projects kingpin in The Blindside or recently with is role as T-Dog on AMC's "The Walking Dead." While in town to promote the national Run for Your Life fun run tour that kicked off in Georgia earlier this month, we sat with him over breakfast at the Four Seasons to discuss growing up in Atlanta, insights on his alter ego T-Dog, and what to expect in upcoming episodes of the show.
Note, the interview took place prior to the airing of episode 11, Judge, Jury Executioner, in which Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) dies. "The Walking Dead" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
CL: Is there more to T-dog than meets the eye? Singleton: Yeah, I would compare T-Dog to me. That's when I'm doing my character work, they all start from a baser foundation of who I am. I try to find as many similarities between me and the character I'm playing and I see T-Dog as having a solid spiritual foundation. It hasn't come out yet but if he continues to live, if he survives then ...
We have a few episodes before the season ends. Can you give us some idea about what's going to happen? I'll make it easy, are you still on the farm? Yes, we're on the farm and the farm is going to become a totally different place. Try to think back to season one when all Hades broke loose. We're going to have something similar. The CDC was nothing compared to this, and what's about to go down ... I can't go into any further than that but it's going to get more exciting and morality is about to come into question in a major way. Get ready for disappointment and heartbreak.
Hmmm ... that sounds like someone we really like is going to to die. I didn't say that ...
Going back to T-Dog, you said you pull him out of yourself, when you read the original script and discussed your character, did he change at all?
We talked mainly with Glen Mazzara. We had a sit-down for about an hour about my character and how I saw him and it's the same way as I see my mission as IronE on this Earth and that's to serve as a beacon of light and inspiration to others. Someone mentioned on my Twitter account that they saw T-Dog as a mentor before this whole thing [zombie apocalypse] broke out. And I said, "Yeah I can see how T-Dog can be that way." I can see him being a veteran from the military, that's possible, too. He's a good guy, he's always been about justice and fighting for the everywoman/everyman and just wanting justice to prevail ... at all cost. So even at sacrificing his life, even if he has to do that in order to save another, someone whose good-natured and good-spirited, he'd do it.
I noticed in the first season, T-Dog seemed a little angry about the situation he was in and more integral to the conversations being held, but this season heÃ¢â'¬â"¢s mellowed out and more of a follower.
T-Dog is like, "Man, I'm not gonna get caught up in this nonsense, I just want to survive." I mean look at Rick and Shane, its like y'all are staring at each other and then Darryl and every time I turn around somebody is arguing, there's this drama going on and T-Dog is like, "I've already had enough of this in my life. It's where I came from in the pre-apocalyptic world, so I don't want anything to do with. Just let me know when the zombies are here and if you need my help with that, but this other stuff leave me out of it." [laughs]
Yeah you tend to have this look on your face that says, "seriously?"
Oh, you caught that! [laughs] I mean we have bigger fish to fry, bigger things to worry about, right?