The Walking Dead’s mid-season premiere is fast approaching when Supa-Star Cooper Andrews a.k.a. Jerry on the hit AMC series answers his phone in the US, but he’s preoccupied with something far more pressing than a zombie apocalypse.
“I’m sitting in the parking lot of a Korean barbecue place where I intend on eating hardcore after this,” Andrews jokes.
He’s “really, really excited to get [to Australia]” for Supanova Melbourne and Gold Coast, and has been compiling a list of places he’d like to visit.
“I love all kinds of food, I like all types of places; I just want to be able to see as much of the country as possible.”
But before that, fan-favourite Jerry has some serious problems that need dealing with.
The last time fans saw the character was in 2019’s mid-season finale when he, alongside Daryl (Norman Reedus), Aaron (Supa-Star Ross Marquand), Magna (Nadia Hilker), Kelly (Angel Theory) and Connie (Lauren Ridloff), followed Carol (Melissa McBride) into a serious cliffhanger.
“I’m going to tell you, the set they built for this next episode, it doesn’t look like a set, it just looks like these crazy caves,” he tells.
“I busted my butt harder on this than any other episode. This was physically demanding from all of us. Everyone was bruised and scraped by the end of this episode and it is so much fun to watch.”
— Melissa McBride (@mcbridemelissa) February 5, 2020
Now in its 10th season, The Walking Dead’s cultivated a viewership and dedication that few other franchises can match.
“I think a lot of people can relate to these characters because you would have to be one of them,” Andrews says. “If you were to survive, you’re going to become one of these things and we all relate to who the person is that we might become, that we might be like.
“I think everyone’s goal is to be someone like Daryl, but if I was in the apocalypse, my goal would definitely try to be Jerry just because I’m like, ‘All right, well, he seems well adjusted.’ He’s well adjusted in his world.”
A lot of people would like to imagine themselves as the Jerry of their own apocalyptic story; someone who is loyal and remains positive and optimistic, despite having almost everything taken from them.
“The way I play Jerry is I like to treat it like he’s seeing all these characters how the audience sees them,” he explains. “So when he first meets Rick [Grimes], I tried and play it like, ‘That’s Rick Grimes! Do you guys know who Rick Grimes is?!’ I almost teeter on breaking that fourth wall sometimes.
“Some of the characters I’m with, Jerry’s going to notice how badass all these people are. He can’t just ignore the fact that all these people are incredibly amazing individuals. There’s a little bit of light in that because we can all relate to what Jerry is seeing.”
It’s been a big few years for Andrews, who also entered the DC fold in 2019 played Billy Batson’s foster father, Victor Vasquez, in Shazam!.
“I was a DC fan from before I can remember. I was a Superman fan since before I can remember,” he offers.
“That movie really could have been just about the family and it would have still been this solid film, and then you get to add on top all the magic and Billy Batson becoming Shazam. It takes one movie that I already was going to enjoy and it adds another movie that I was going to enjoy on top of it.
“When I read it, I was like, ‘Oh wow.’ I connected with [Victor] so quickly because I was like, ‘This guy’s real.’ He knows that these foster kids have had a hard life. He also knows that’s not what’s going to make them. He knows that’s not their life. He knows they’re going to be better.”
While Zachary Levi played the film’s titular superhero, Victor, alongside Rosa (Batson’s foster mother, portrayed by Marta Milans), could be considered the film’s true heroes.
“The thing I get a lot when I do these conventions, I’ve had quite a few people come up to me and tell me that they’ve put in for adoption papers to look into adopting kids because of the movie and that blows my mind,” he says.
“It blows my mind and there are people who are adults who went through the system and come up to me and talk about what they went through. We’ll most likely cry together, but we have these great talks about just how inspirational Shazam! was to them.”
Fans will be pleased to know that Andrews will indeed appear in the Shazam! sequel.
“I didn’t make it clear that I was in Shazam! the first time when I was on my social media. I don’t like telling people I’m in something because it feels like, you know, they might write me out entirely. I didn’t tell people about Walking Dead really until it started. I was like, ‘Oh, they kept it. They kept this in – that’s cool.’ I’m always super hesitant to tell people about things I think I’m doing, but yeah, I am on for Shazam! 2.”
Catch Cooper Andrews at Supanova Melbourne (March 6-8) and Gold Coast (March 13-14).