Previewing Z NATION Season 2 with Pisay Pao

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

When we last left our zombie-virus survivors on Z NATION, things went a little crazy as Cassandra was infected with whatever form of the mutated virus Murphy’s been dealing with!  Season 2 premieres tonight at 10/9c and without giving too much away, Cassandra’s portrayer, Pisay Pao, previewed a little bit about what’s coming next and why we should all tune in!

I love how you never know what’s coming next on Z NATION!
[laughs out loud] Oh yeah, we love that, too!

Especially where Season 1 ended up, where we ended up with Cassandra.  Who would have known when we first met you that we’d be at the end of the season in some hybrid format. Was there any hint, talking to writers, creators, about the season arc, and where you’d end up?
It was totally something that I found out as the season went on [laughs].  That’s a reason I commented that oh, we love it, too, because we as the actors, the other cast members and I, are just on the edge of our seats!  I’ve heard other actors talk about this how we don’t know.  The next script we get, do I die, do I live? [laughs]  That’s really true for our show as well.  We’re not getting the scripts six months ahead.  We’re not getting all of the scripts as soon as we start shooting.  We’re getting them as we go, and even then, there are times where the day of, we’ll get, not like a new script, but we’ll get new pages.  Changes to our dialogue, or changes to how some scenes will be shot.  To answer your question, I had no idea where Cassandra was going or where she would end up, rather.  But, it was something that I sort of asked for.  I guess prayed for.  I had a one on one with a close friend of mine, and we just talked about what I wanted from Cassandra and what I wanted from the show, and I said you know, obviously, I don’t get to control whether she lives or dies, but I want her, if she were to go out, I want her to go out fighting.  She is absolutely a fighter.  I wanted it to be big, and I think I got it [laughs].

Watching the show, the cast seems to be having so much fun; there’s an excitement in watching your excitement on screen.
Yeah, I think the fact that we’re back for season 2 and I think I can say we’re definitely talking about a season 3, I think that is proof in itself that we did find our fan base and that they really do connect with the stories that we’re telling, and with our characters.  Yes, the stories are so fun, and so last minute, so there’s that spontaneity to it, but the scripts too are written in such a fun way, it would be impossible for us not to have fun on set.  We’re laughing right long with everybody else.  That’s really great.

When we first heard the show being announced, it was oh, how can we have another zombie show, but I think it’s done so well to set itself apart from what we saw with THE WALKING DEAD.
Yeah, totally!  I think that obviously, THE WALKING DEAD is amazing and it really reinvigorated the whole zombie genre.  I’ll say, even for myself, when I heard about the show, it was like ‘ooh another zombie show, how are they going to pull this off?” I think that would be natural for everything.  When people do movies that they turn into a TV show, you’re always wondering ok, what’s that going to be, are they going to pull it off, and how is the audience, how are the fans going to react to it?  It’s funny – we have like 7 different cop shows on TV or 9 different medical dramas, or what not, but then you get to zombie world, and you’re like “how is it possible to make it different.” but you’ve got things like Z NATION and IZOMBIE, and I think there’s even one more coming out, not just the spinoff from THE WALKING DEAD. I love that our show was able to take what people thought wasn’t new, but we could do things different with it, have a new different fan base.  And the same fan base, but just give people something different from what was already out there that they really love.  Yay for us [laughs]!

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Talking about Season 2 – it’s hard with a show like this where you don’t want to say too much without A) getting yourself in trouble or B) giving anything away, but what can you tell us about what to expect when the show starts?
Oh my gosh!!  Obviously, I can’t…it is hard to not say certain things, but I do not mind talking about Season 2 at all!  I’m super, super excited!  Most important thing you must know is that it premieres [today], so if I’m sounding jittery, there’s a good reason behind it!  Friday, September 11, 10:00!  The truth is that there’s so much to say.  So much is happening.  I don’t even know if we’re going to be in the same country anymore.  A lot more zombies, a lot of different kinds of zombies, a lot more new interesting characters that are going to change the group dynamics.  Some love stories going on.  Heartbreak, maybe.  Conflict.  I think conflict was the biggest one.  When we sat down with the showrunner, Karl Schaefer, that was something that he really wanted to instill upon us, and I think with the episodes, we were going to hit the ground running and there was always going to be something going on to move the story along, versus maybe staying on one story and sticking with that story for a couple of episodes.  That’s definitely not us.  We’re totally different from that [laughs].  I think we’re in a different state in nearly every episode.  Don’t ask me how that’s physically scientifically possible, but we are!  You know, just bigger.  Better.  A lot more things going on, is the best way that I can describe Z NATION season 2.  Big, beautiful, zombie-mush grade of fun and excitement!

What are fans saying to you when you interact with them?  What are they saying that they’d love to see?
[laughs] Honestly, the most that I hear is that they want to see Cassandra back, so that’s always good!  That’s always a good thing.  They want to know is she coming back and the second one I get a lot is what’s going on with her and Murphy and/or what’s going on with her and 10K?  So I hear those three things quite a bit.

Where do you fall, as a fan of the show, on Cassandra and 10K?  Is that something – are they a relationship to root for?
I mean, the fans keep on asking me about them, so I think the fans are rooting for something romantic to happen between the two of them.  I’m so lucky!  I mean…. God!  Yes, 10K, Nat Zang is just as handsome on TV as he is in person.  And he’s just such, in terms of an acting partner, he’s been acting for a really long time, been doing theater for a really long time, so even though this is his first even TV audition and then he booked it and had to like, skip prom and all that jazz [laughs], he’s a really giving actor.  I think that it’s easy to have chemistry with him, no matter who you are, and I think that it just so happens that I got really lucky because Cassandra doesn’t happen to be with anybody in particular, because her and 10K sort of have the same storyline in that they’re both really loners and fight on their own, and then they’re thrown together, and we’ll see where that goes.

Why do you think that fans should tune in – maybe they haven’t seen season 1, jumping into season 2, or they’re just really excited about Season 2 – what is something you’re saying to people about why this is the time to get into Z NATION?
I think the same way, when you’re watching reality TV, and you’re like, “oh no she didn’t?” or “oh no he didn’t!” “Are you kidding me, this is ridiculous, this is so fun and unique and I can’t believe that they got the cajones to do that!!” and I think that’s the biggest reason that people should watch Z NATION.  We are so down to have fun and obviously, there are great characters, great stories, but the biggest is that we’re having fun with the genre.  Season 2 is fun and light hearted, you kind of need that sometimes, or a lot of times, at the end of a long day, you know what I mean?  Definitely watch it, and the wow and the unbelievable factor!

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

Photo Credit: Vince Trupsin

What kind of training goes into being this bad-ass hybrid? Is there a daily routine?
Yes!  I do a ton of training.  I do a ton of working out, a ton of working on my body. When I started the season, I made sure to get in touch with the stunt coordinator, Keith Cox, and Alex Terzieff, and I made sure to get in touch with them every weekend, even though we’re shooting 12 hour days during the week, on Saturday, I would meet up with my stunt coordinator, to work on stuff, even if they didn’t use them on set, I think it just prepared my body and made it really limber.  I know that prior to Season 2, I was working out maybe 4-5 times a week, just preparing my body, not only to be in apocalypse shape, but to be able to be in working on set shape because you’re working such long hours, you can’t….you could.  You could eat craft!  I didn’t visit the craft table this season, even though the season’s not over yet, as much as last season.  That was something I’m really proud of.

What else besides Z NATION do you have coming up that we could look forward to?
Oh my goodness.  I’ve got two huge Comic Cons that I’m super excited about.  It’s really hard to do anything outside of Z NATION while we’re shooting because it’s exhausting.  I’ve got a Comic Con happening in Eugene, OR, October 3 and 4.  Eugene is not too far away from Portland, OR, so it’ll be great to be back in the Pacific Northwest where I’m originally from.  That will be my first official autograph signing!  I’m excited and a little nervous!  And then, I’ve got a Comic Con in Milan, Italy, of all places!  We’ve got fans all over the world, and apparently there are a bunch of them in Milan, waiting to see us!  I’m super excited about that, as well.  It’s going to be interesting.  We’ll have interpreters there for us.  That’s actually really interesting, I have to say, thinking about it.  Coming from another country, like I do, speaking another language, like I do, things don’t always translate.  And so to know that Z NATION translates so well in countries like, we have a huge fan base in Brazil, and then obviously, in Italy, because we’re going there. Humor doesn’t always translate.  Because humor is so ground in culture, right?  The fact that we can hit that count culturally across the board, I’m getting chills just thinking about it.  So again yay us! [laughs]

Fingers crossed for a big premiere!
I’m super excited because we’ll be live tweeting after each episode; that’s my favorite thing.  We’ll be watching episodes with the fans, so please come and live tweet with us every Friday!

Z NATION airs Friday nights at 10/9c on Syfy.