Day of the Dead interview with star Christopher Russell

DAY OF THE DEAD -- "Chum" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Christopher Russell as Trey Bowman -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/DOTD S1 Productions/SYFY)
DAY OF THE DEAD -- "Chum" Episode 102 -- Pictured: Christopher Russell as Trey Bowman -- (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/DOTD S1 Productions/SYFY) /

Tonight is the SYFY premiere of the channel’s newest horror series Day of the Dead. While inspired by George Romero’s zombie universe that started with Night of the Living Dead, this new series does not take place in the same universe.

1428 Elm chatted with Christopher Russell, who portrays Trey Bowman in the series. Trey is the first husband of Mayor Paula Bowman. Funnily enough, Russell previously starred in a Romero film, the 2005 film Land of the Dead. And although Day of the Dead isn’t a reprisal role, Chris is a big fan of Romero’s work and eager to jump back into the world of the living dead. You might also recognize him from his roles in shows like Supernatural and Star Trek: Discovery.

1428 Elm interviews Christopher Russell, who plays Trey Bowman in Day of the Dead

1428 ELM: How did you get involved in this project?

CHRISTOPHER RUSSELL: Day of the Dead did a casting call during the first part of the lockdown in 2020. When I saw the character Trey Bowman, who I play on the show, I just knew instantly who this character was and how to play him, at least in my mind. I sent them a tape with a couple of scenes, and I got good feedback right away.

1428 ELM: You’ve done another zombie project, Land of the Dead, which was related to George Romero’s franchise. Are you a fan of the genre and zombie movies in general?

CHRIS: I am. I was a big fan growing up. George Romero’s Land of the Dead was one of my first acting roles, professionally, believe it or not. I remember getting a call after I had auditioned months before. When I showed up, George Romero was there, he was so warm and welcoming. John Leguizamo and Dennis Hopper were there. I was in awe of the whole set and the actors. I couldn’t believe my luck. I was like, holy s**t!

George Romero, I think he had like ten family members with him just following him around and being a part of it. Considering the subject matter, it was a very warm, welcoming, and family-oriented set.

Day of the Dead
DAY OF THE DEAD — Episode 101 — Pictured: Zombies — (Photo by: DOTD S1 Productions/SYFY) /

1428 ELM: Do you have any specific zombie movies that you enjoy or that you turn to for inspiration?

CHRIS: There are a couple of camps when it comes to the zombie genre. There’s the Romero camp and then more of the, well I don’t want to say the Danny Boyle camp, but he took it in a different direction with 28 Days Later where they move quickly, they’re more sporadic in their movements, it’s hard to predict them. I really enjoyed that movie. It’s one of my favorite zombie movies of all time.

But I’m also a huge fan of The Walking Dead. That show takes a lot of its inspiration from Romero. The slower-moving zombies, the political/social commentary they have, but they do it in a more serious tone. The stakes seem very high, and there is little room for humor. It’s a very dark show. When it comes to Day of the Dead, they’re more in line with what Romero was trying to do in the beginning. There is some humor in it. They’re punching up the satire in it.

1428 ELM: There’s some camp and comedic relief, and your character gets to play into those lighter, more comedic moments. What was it like for you to balance that out against the action sequences?

CHRIS: It was a dream come true, to be honest with you. I’ll back it up a little bit. Romero’s original films were a little campy, to begin with, which kind of added to it. The enjoyment of watching them, like they didn’t take themselves too seriously, but made interesting points about what was happening in the world at the time.

I feel like Day of the Dead is doing exactly that. You’ll see that each group of characters has a very specific tone like you know these people from the real world like you could match them up with someone in your life or someone you’ve seen in the media.

To play Trey and be able to have those comedic moments and lighten it up a little bit from time to time during this very intense, very gory—Jed Elinoff and Scott Thomas [the show creators] even said it’s scarier and darker than they expected. Great horror films have those moments of laughter. They have those moments where the audience can take a breath for a second and not be scared the entire time. So to be one of the few members of the cast that has the opportunity to say these incredibly rich lines that are funny and accurate as a social commentary was amazing.

Day of the Dead
DAY OF THE DEAD — “The Thing in the Hole” Episode 101 — Pictured: Miranda Frigon as Paula Bowman — (Photo by: Sergei Bachlakov/DOTD S1 Productions/SYFY) /

1428 ELM: Can you talk a bit about the relationship between Trey and Paula? What was it like working with Miranda Frigon?

CHRIS: Awesome. We were actually working on a movie together prior to Day of the Dead when we both found out we would be shooting Day of the Dead as husband and wife. That was an interesting coincidence because we had already been showing each other our audition tapes, and I was like, “Oh, you’re going to book it for sure! I can tell!” And then she did.

She’s such a little lady but also so commanding in her presence naturally. When you combine that with my height and stature—and I don’t want to say buffoonish, but that’s for lack of a better word—sort of a bimbo, to some degree, would be a good description for Trey. To have that dynamic between them, this little firecracker of a mayor who’s trying to get her buffoonish husband in line. It’s so fun to play off of each other. I actually found that my scenes would be a lot easier to play if she was in them. There was something about that dynamic that worked well.

1428 ELM: You guys have a fun chemistry that’s enjoyable to watch. What are you most excited for people to see from this season, or what do you think will surprise viewers the most?

CHRIS: For one, you do not know where it’s going. Because it’s an ensemble cast, much like The Walking Dead, you have no idea who’s staying and who’s going. They were really good at writing that. All the characters are, for lack of a better word, fleshed out. They all have so much to them that you really can’t pick who will come out on top and who will not. So that’s what viewers can expect, not knowing what’s going to happen.

I love The Walking Dead, but this isn’t The Walking Dead. This is its own little ode to George A. Romero, and you’ve got comedy, and it has got heart. You care about the characters and fall for some of them and want to see them succeed during all of this, and then you’ve got the horror aspect and the thrilling aspect and action and some “Hell yeah!” moments. So, yeah, it’s a mixed bag. It’s got something for everyone, I would say.

The 25 best horror TV shows. dark. Next

Day of the Dead premieres tonight at 10:00 p.m. EST on SYFY, and new episodes air weekly.