The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live’s Pollyanna McIntosh on how Jadis views Rick: “She’d like him to succeed”

McIntosh helps break down the season's third episode, "Bye" -- and teases her upcoming role on Outer Banks.

Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: AMC
Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: AMC /
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As of last week’s episode of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, fan-favorite antagonist Jadis Stokes, played by Pollyanna McIntosh, is back and once again mixing it up with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). And this time she’s the one in charge, thanks to her role as a warrant officer for the CRM (Civic Republic Military).

“Look, Jadis would like nothing more if Rick was just happily on his way, and she'd like him to succeed in being happy,” McIntosh told Bam Smack Pow. “The way she views it is like ‘You've got this great opportunity here to be part of something truly important. You kind of claim to be the guy who believes in that, and yet here you are about to sacrifice possibly everybody you love, everybody at home,’ for what she perceives to be a rather selfish act. Love is great and everything, but she can't afford it. She's got bigger fish to fry. She's got more important work to do.”

In this week’s episode, titled “Bye,” written by Gabriel Llanas & Matthew Negrete and directed by Michael Slovis, Jadis is wondering just how and why Rick was able to bring his wife Michonne (Danai Gurira) into the community without anyone catching on. And in the process, viewers get some key info about what happened in the intervening years between Jadis taking Rick to get him medical attention in The Walking Dead’s ninth season, and the beginning of The Ones Who Live, years later.

The episode also provides critical connective fiber to Jadis’s other big appearance, as one of the main baddies on the spinoff The Walking Dead: World Beyond. Thanks to that, we know that Jadis is large and in charge when it comes to CRM, flitting around the country and making it her job to needle Rick Grimes whenever and wherever she can.

To find out more about McIntosh’s take on Jadis, how she views both Rick and Michonne and a little bit about her upcoming role on Netflix’s Outer Banks, read on.

Bam Smack Pow: You're the only actor so far to appear on three different Walking Dead shows. Other than it's obviously nice to have a job, what keeps you coming back to Jadis?

Pollyanna McIntosh: She's one of the most grounded and fun characters I've gotten to play in my work. She's fascinating. She's maddening. That's always fun. I'm quite a hyper person in my own life. I'm quite all over the shop as far as my focus sometimes, and I'm very childlike and exuberant and getting to play somebody who's so grounded and so purposeful, singularly purposeful, but still has a lot of fun with people, just has a beautifully calming effect on me. Odd to say that someone doing such terrible things is calming.

[To] expand on the reality of what brings me back is that the show is extraordinary and the writing and the acting and every collaborative element of the crew is just a bunch of very, very talented people who've created something quite magic, which is a television world that the fans are entirely committed to and it's very, very connecting for people, and that the found family element of this world is true to form of great horror, which is sort of outsider based and celebrates the underdog and has a bigger meaning than the gore involved in it.

…But the gore is really fun.

Given that you've been on all three shows, did you find anything different just technically set wise, doing The Ones Who Live? I believe it was shot on digital versus film. I don't know how that affected you necessarily.

Again, they've just brought such an extraordinary group of talented people together and the directors are beautifully chosen and the look of it is really, really strong and it's different from what we've seen before, but it's got [showrunner Scott M.] Gimple at the helm, where it's got that Walking Dead world of nuance, of dark wit and of truly human characters going beyond what most of us at home would be able to do in an apocalypse, and that's exciting and hopeful to watch.

So yeah, there's differences, but Andy [Lincoln] is so informed as Rick and Danai [Gurira] is so informed as Michonne, and our casting directors are extraordinary in the choices that have been made, obviously with Gimple and others involved, as to who's playing these new people entering into the world and true to form, they're diverse, they're soulful, and we want to see what they do, what happens next.

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Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: AMC /

Jadis has been so many different things at this point. Different voices, different looks, different haircuts. As an actor, how do you approach the continuity there over three shows? Or is it mostly about trusting the writers and directors?

Oh, I'm super anal about the continuity. It's one of my things. I'm lucky enough to have a very collaborative relationship with Scott and with [Matthew] Negrete on World Beyond, and even people like Mikey Satrazemis who came in and directed on this iteration of the world.

We're all gatekeepers of that continuity and of things making sense and things feeling that they're right in this world. And so yeah, I love her constant capacity to surprise, but I'm also very conscious of ensuring that she's acting true to form, true to who I see this person as she develops in this world.

When we see her at the end of episode two, and in episode three, what is her position now? Because Kublek is out the way at the end of World Beyond, is Jadis moving up the ranks in CRM? Does she hold the same position?

So she is warrant officer Jadis Stokes. She sniffs out the rats, she keeps people in line, she keeps the course of what the CRM are trying to do in line… that's her whole purpose is to ensure that despite the sacrifices she has to make, as she says in episode two, her hands are bloody and they couldn't get any bloodier and that's the choice she's made, not the most pleasurable.

She's not sociopathic or enjoys others' pain in any way. We saw that in how she viewed Negan and people like Simon. She didn't approve of that way of working, but she's willing to make sacrifices for what she believes in. And in this case, she really feels that they are the last light of the world and that she's helping bring back a freer and a more joyful existence for humanity. It's just that it costs her a lot to do it.

Jumping into spoilers for the episode, Jadis makes a very bold statement in the flashback scene said at the market. She says, and this is the exact quote, "Fries are good, but onion rings are living." Do you agree?

[Laughs] Yeah, I do, actually. There are days when a fry is what you want, but if onion rings and fries are on the menu, I'm getting the onion rings.

She has long hair again in the flashback scene. Do you prefer that look for Jadis or do you prefer, what Rick refers to as, "her s*** haircut" later on in the episode?

I prefer a s*** haircut. Yeah, I prefer a little edge because I think that she's truly in her element when she's making people a little on the back foot… It is easier to read people when they're uncomfortable, when they're under some duress, and her hairdos are designed in order to make people feel that way. They don't really know what they're dealing with here.

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Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: AMC /

That gets to the next thing I was going to ask you, which is about her relationship with Rick. How do you see Jadis' relationship with Rick, or how do you think Jadis views it? Is it all about needling him at all points, getting him uncomfortable like you were just saying, or is there something else there?

Look, Jadis would like nothing more if Rick was just happily on his way, and she'd like him to succeed in being happy. The way she views it is like "You've got this great opportunity here to be part of something truly important. You kind of claim to be the guy who believes in that, and yet here you are about to sacrifice possibly everybody you love, everybody at home," for what she perceives to be a rather selfish act. Love is great and everything, but she can't afford it. She's got bigger fish to fry. She's got more important work to do.

And she views his behavior as a little boyish at this point. She's way beyond the idea of having a fellow around or being able to have friends or being able to love even. But the work that she feels she's doing is to ensure that people do have that opportunity. It's not that she doesn't see it as important or valid, it's just that there isn't a place for it in this world that she's trying to make a difference in.

So I do think that, talking about s*** haircut, one of the reasons I designed that haircut for World Beyond was because I thought I saw her as quite Joan of Arc-ish about really, really believing in this cause and suffering to ensure what's needed to be done is done. That the truth, it may be a hard pill to swallow, but you got to break some eggs to make an omelet type thing.

On the same note though, she is, or comes off as extremely flirty and propositioning Rick several times in the episode. Do you think she means that or is she kind of just playing with him like a cat?

She knows it makes him uncomfortable and there's a certain success in that because the more uncomfortable he is, the more threatened he is, the more likely he is to behave as she wants him to. But also Jadis may not get to have a relationship or get to have an easy life, but she's sure as s*** going to have as much fun as she can along the way, otherwise she really would be the Walking Dead.

Well, what about her take on Michonne? We don't get to see them interact, but we do get to see her sort of glance in her direction and tease her presence a little bit.

She respects the hell out of her, as she does Rick, and she certainly knows the capacity that the both of them have, individually, but also as a pair that's a little threatening to her.

So when she says, she says, "Oh no, oh no, she's seen me." She's sort of toying with the idea that there's no place for jealousy or foolishness in this world. Again, there are bigger things to deal with, but if there's going to be it, she's going to point it out and she's going to play with it.

And  she's kind of calling both of them out in that moment. For me as a fan, watching it or reading it, I'm like, "Oh no," I love Michonne and I love Rick and I want them to be well, but as Jadis, it's like she's always been a bit regal and a bit headmistress-y with the both of them.

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Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 3 - Photo Credit: AMC /

It seems like we're heading in the culmination of the season towards this summit that they keep teasing. How involved in that, potentially, will we see Jadis?

Well, as I've already said, she fully believes in the cause and she's not immune to a bit of pride as well. And like I say, she doesn't get to have an easy comfortable life as far as her morality is concerned, but she likes the benefits of the whiskey on the side and a bit of the pomp and circumstance directive in her direction. She's not immune to that. So she feels quite, not only purposeful, but also a little bit prideful in her place in the summit.

We haven't seen Jadis interact with Terry O'Quinn's Beale yet. And as a fan of both of you as actors, are we going to see that at all coming up? Are we going to see them butting heads or working together in any way?

One of my favorite shows I ever watched was Patriot. Did you ever see that?

I think I saw the first episode, but I should go back.

It's a really good show. Terry O'Quinn plays the father of the spy who's coming in to the corporate world in order to get what he needs to do in the spy world. And I hadn't really seen much of Lost, so I didn't know him from that, but I know him from Patriot and when he was cast, I was just so delighted. He's amazing.

So I, like others, are looking forward to seeing his performance in the show and to seeing how he plays as Beale. As far as Jadis' interaction with him, I mean she's made it quite clear she respects him and she's excited by his capacity, so were they to meet, it would be a pretty interesting thing to see.

Now that you've played Jadis on three different Walking Dead shows, will you also be playing Jadis on Outer Banks?

[Laughs] That's a really good question. Definitely not. But also every character's a bit of yourself in there or how [you] interpret certain choices in life, and just as Jadis is complicated and a thorn in the side of the good guys in the Walking Dead, Dahlia is a little bit of trouble as well in Outer Banks. So I'm very glad to be playing a bit of trouble again.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live airs 9/8c on AMC and AMC+.

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