Through my ever expanding Fan Fest network, I was given the opportunity to interview The Walking Dead’s recent fan favorite character, Jerry. Played by the lovable Cooper Andrews, Jerry is a devoted member of The Kingdom and King Ezekiel’s personal bodyguard. Jerry also provides a light-hearted spirit during some very dark apocalyptic times.
His name is Jerry, and he’s the greatest thing to happen to The Walking Dead since Eugene’s mullet. Collectively, Jerry is our new spirit animal: A reminder to us all to let the intensity and violence of The Walking Dead, the anxiety of the election, and life’s daily obstacles wash over us. – Dustin Rowles, UPROXX.com
I caught up with Cooper while he was chatting with fans and feeding them his favorite peach cobbler during Awesome Con held in Washington, DC June 16-18.
Linda: Are you enjoying the convention? I heard you hadn’t done that many so far. Kind of new on the circuit?
Cooper: It’s like my fourth one I think. You know, it’s a lot to get used to. It’s a lot of fun. It’s like getting to see people on Halloween. (laughs)
Linda: I happen to write for Fan Fest News, the organization that operates Walker Stalker Con, so I definitely am going to ask some Walking Dead questions. (smiles) I’d like start off though by asking how you got into acting? I always gotta go back to the beginning.
Cooper: Acting is always just a part of it. Just sort of being in the process of making movies and creating stories, that’s when I got started, when I was a kid. It started coming to fruition in high school when my buddies and I, we just started making movies. I was in the drama clubs, I was a boom operator. I wanted do stunts, I wanted to do fighting. I’ve been into martial arts since I was three. 14 years ago I was still pretty active doing all the fighting. I started learning about lighting, what lights work, started going into sound, what makes for good sound. Learning how important that was. It was pretty paramount because it’s the most neglected thing. And it’s the one thing in movies that if it doesn’t sound right, they [people] feel like the movie sounds amateur and they don’t really know why. People think they get this new amazing camera and they are recording from the camera and it doesn’t sound right. (Cooper leans into my recorder and then away to prove his point.) There was a lot of auditions and stuff, people knew me. I didn’t wanna really do roles that were the bouncer or the thug Samoan. I just didn’t wanna be playing that kind of character.
Linda: What kind [of role] were you looking to play?
Cooper: I didn’t have any [in particular], I just knew I didn’t want to be a stereotype. Right now Polynesians, people my size are still seen as the goofy, strong guy that just can’t fend for themselves. What I love about The Walking Dead is that Jerry is a character unlike any other. Even though he seems like he’s this simple person, there’s a lot of thought to why he doesn’t have a lot of deep concerns. He just has to try to protect the guy that has to think for everybody. He gets to enjoy it all. He gets to enjoy the peace. He gets to make sure the peace is maintained ’cause he wants everyone to enjoy it. It makes him happy to be able to serve and help.
Linda: How exciting was it getting invited into The Walking Dead? I mean you’re a big fan.
Cooper: Yeah, yeah, I’m a huge fan of the show. It was actually really funny. It didn’t hit me because I was auditioning on a Friday and a Saturday just doing these tapes back and forth and then I got called up Monday. The thing was, I was shooting with my friends, we were shooting like this fight sequence and we had like 12 people at the house. As I’m shooting, I’m in the pool with my camera gear and then I get the phone call, “So you’re going to Atlanta” and I was like… That’s awesome! [Then they said] “You have to leave in four hours.” Ahhhhh… I was like, so I had to leave not telling anybody why I had to leave. I was like, I gotta go to the airport ’cause I said of the other show Halt and Catch Fire. I told people I was still shooting that.
Linda: They [The Walking Dead] keep things under wrap. That must have been a hard secret to keep.
Cooper: What made it a lot easier, about a month and a half later the comic con trailer came out and my face was in it for like 4 frames. So many people jumped on it. They were like, “Are you in it?” Phew, yes, ok good. Now I don’t have to keep the secret. If I had to wait ’till October, I woulda been miserable.
Linda: I like that you know the groundwork behind making movies. It must help immensely having that knowledge. To understand how it works.
Cooper: I’m in the union for that as well. Yeah, I did it for over 10 years, doing sound. 60-80 hours a week learning the process. Always aware, as much fun as we have, people gotta get home, so let’s just nail this thing and make it as best we can. People are working so hard, let’s give them something to be proud of.
Linda: That’s really cool. I’d like to add that I reached out to my Fan Fest team of writers and I told them I might be interviewing you today. They were very excited and sent me some questions they were hoping you could answer. The first one asked about you being trained in weaponry. They wanted to know how you got into that?
Cooper: I was 3 when my mom started me with the yellow whiffle ball bats. She was into fencing so she started teaching me the basics. I guess her biggest fear was I would have anger issues so she put me in martial arts early. So there was a lot of training involved. So there was weapons, kung fu, tai chi, tae kwon do. As I got older, all the training that I had, it sorta… everything started to click. I was able to make it kinda my own. Kung foo for a guy that’s 350? It’s fun to do but, I don’t have to exert as much power. I don’t have to be faster because I can be stronger. So, fighting was huge. But, it kept me grounded. That kind of calmness has helped. I don’t really freak out. You know sort of how to evaluate situations. Even when you’re on the set, it’s just a time and a moment, let’s just have some fun with it.
Linda: Back to you being a huge fan of the show. Who was your favorite character?
Cooper: Shane. Hands down. I think it’s the fact that Shane had to ya know, girl got in the way. It just ruined him. Everything he said was right in season 2. He just got lost in it. He was so right, he did everything right then the girl came in. That’s why I always have this comment, within reason…. I won’t let money and I won’t let a girl get in the way of a friendship.
Linda: Good idea. (smiles) The next question is about Jerry’s weapon of choice, the axe. What is your personal weapon of choice?
Cooper: I would probably still use the axe. I would be exhausted, though it would be fun. I’ve thought about it, I would like to have 5 or 6 machetes. That way if one gets stuck, I could pull out another one, break it free. It’s about quick hits. I just realized you could take a stick that’s maybe 38 inches and just crack a head open with just a flick of a wrist with minimal movement. I watch the show, I wanna be like, how come they didn’t keep hitting. But yeah, sticks swords, something like that. I would have multiple of whatever it is.
Linda: Here’s an interesting question. If Jerry were to die, and I hope that’s not the case, how would you want to go if you got to choose?
Cooper: I’d want him to go out saving someone. Like this blaze of fury and glory. After he demolishes everything, as he’s about to die, I would like him to just pull some cobbler out of a container and just eat the cobbler in peace. I have to say that he always carries around cobbler with him just in case he has to have a last meal. That would be my ideal.
Linda: That actually leads into the next question. If you didn’t love cobbler, what is the alternative food?
Cooper: There is no alternative. Ok, I guess a pie. I love raspberries. They are like my favorite food. I always pick ’em out, I can see ’em and tell if they are good or bad. I’m very picky about my raspberries. A big bowl of raspberries.
Linda: If there were an actual apocalypse, what would you carry with you at all times as a good luck charm?
Cooper: As a good luck charm? I imagine having a really sharp knife.
Linda: Well, that certainly makes sense. If you could be another character on the show, who and why?
Cooper: I guess maybe Carol. The fact that she goes through this huge change. Her growth as a charcter. So acting-wise, I wouldn’t be good at it at all but it would be a huge change. Like a character like that where they had this huge change where someone didn’t believe in themselves. Just her [Carol’s] anger and frustrations and how she has to cope with things… that she goes on. It is an amazing character.
Linda: What other shows do you watch?
Cooper: Office. I watch The Office. Khary [Payton] and I, we’ll just quote it back and forth at each other. What I like about that show, and I’ll preach it over and over again is that, it’s the perfect ensemble of group acting. No one tries to hog up the screen, no one tries to sell their moment. They work as team. Just how funny it [The Office] can be and intention. If I ever got to be in a re-do of that show or if they make a continuation [I would do it]. Everyone works so well together, everyone has chemistry.
Linda: Going along with favorites, what is your favorite movie or best movie?
Cooper: It’s always a revolving thing. Sometimes I really like Batman Begins. But I like other movies like Parenthood. Steve Martin and just how well they all work together. When I watch a show, I like seeing how believable they are and the world they’re living in. Like, would they live in a house like that? Is that a real looking house or is it just too perfect looking? I don’t wanna see some master interior designer just making it look like they’re trying to sell the house. It’s these kinda movies that make it more believable. Like what makes an action movie more believable? When they have that flawed character. If the house is super immaculate, you must have 10 cleaning people come to your house every morning. If I see a messy house or a messy home or the way they’re dressed, I believe them more. And it adds to everything. That’s what I look for in everything. Do I believe the world? If I don’t, I can’t believe the character.
Linda: Do you have a favorite superhero? Is your favorite superhero the same as Jerry’s?
Cooper: I don’t think we’d have the same superhero. Jerry’s favorite superhero would be someone like Little John or Robin Hood. My favorite superhero is Superman. You got a guy that never wins, he’s not Batman. Everyone is like well, Batman has no powers but, all Batman has to worry about most is like 5 things at once while like Superman can stop a plane from crashing but then he hears that while he was flying over France other people were like burned in a building fire, he could easily have gone in there and saved them. So it’s always like a loss for him.
Linda: Did you see Wonder Woman? What did you think?
Cooper: I loved it. It was such a great movie. Like every other movie there are things I’d like to have seen a bit differently. I’m Jewish so, every time a see an Israeli woman I’m always like… Oooo, hey how’s it goin? (laughs) For the most part I thought it was great. Getting to see her reaction to knowing that people fight and it’s not ’cause of Ares, [that] they just fight. They’re flawed. I see that message in Superman as well.
Linda: What do you have coming up in the future?
Cooper: Shot a movie coming up called Den of Thieves. Gerard Butler, 50-Cent … that’ gonna be coming out in January. Some really amazing talents. I’m excited about that one. It accurately reps Samoans, it didn’t make ’em again, the bodyguard. My one pet peeve in a lot of shows is when they just throw in someone just to fill a role. I think we’re changing though with that. I’m not one of those people like, oh it needs more Asians. It’s more, I just like it to fit.
Linda: I don’t want to take up too much of your time, fans are waiting. I’d like to thank you so much for answering our questions and wish you continued success!
It was an absolute pleasure speaking with Cooper Andrews and I cannot wait to see what The Walking Dead has in store for our beloved Jerry. A special thank you goes to Daniel Ribera for facilitating this interview. Mr. Ribera was another awesome connection I made through the Fan Fest organization. I look forward to seeing him, Khary, and Cooper at upcoming Walker Stalker Cons. Such a wonderful, warm, and supportive team! Follow Cooper on social media for his latest news and updates. Facebook: @BestCooperAndrews Instagram: @smugorange Twitter: @smugorange