The CW’s Walker: Independence aired its season one finale earlier this month with an explosive ending to a captivating season. The prequel to The CW’s Walker, Independence takes place in the late 1800s, where the town comes together to help newcomer Abby and track down who killed her husband, Liam.
On the heels of the finale, we had the chance to talk to Philemon Chambers, who plays Augustus, and who had a pivotal role in Independence. We talked about the finale, Gus’ arc in the show, and some fun rapid-fire questions.
Editor’s note: This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Nerds and Beyond: Let’s start with episode 12. You narrated the episode as well. What was it like getting to explore Gus so deeply in that episode, and also lending your voice to everyone else’s stories?
Philemon Chambers: Nerve-racking. It was nerve-racking because I was like, “Are you sure? You want to hear me talk for 42 minutes straight?” They were like, “Of course.” You know, it fit very well. And I’m honestly not even saying it just because I played him, but it wouldn’t have made sense for anybody else to do it since Gus is the historian and he is essentially the moral compass of Independence. It just made sense. And I have to give credit to Seamus [Kevin Fahey] and our team because they did a hell of a job. Especially with the way … when we did the table read for 12, some things were different. But just the cadence of the writing really lent to Gus, his voice, and his gravitas that kind of comes with him and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I would love to do more. Hopefully, I get the opportunity to, it’s something that I think I wasn’t expecting, especially at the beginning of the season … me and Seamus had talked about it. I was like, “Hey, what do you think about Gus writing?” And then Seamus was like, “Writing? Okay, well, if he writes, do you want to like, say what he’s writing?” And again, it never popped into my head after that. But Seamus brought it to the forefront and it was great. I had a lot of fun with that.
N&B: So Gus has a tragic backstory as we saw in that episode. How far in advance were you aware of his story?
Philemon: Literally when we were shooting 11. We got the script for 12 and I read the script and I was like, “Oh shit. Okay,” because, the interesting thing about Gus … his backstory is we were going to explore his backstory if we had got the back five [episodes]. And a lot of people told me if this was any other like, time in CW history, we would have gotten the back five, we would have been approved for a second season … so now that everything is kind of in limbo, certain things are suffering behind it, and Gus’ backstory was one. We really didn’t get to see a lot of it. We got a glimpse into who he is and what makes him tick. When we were doing 11 I got the script for 12, and then I saw all the Gus stuff and I was like, “The hell?” So, you know, Seamus felt bad. Our writers felt bad. All of our executive producers felt bad because Gus’ backstory was kind of contingent on getting the back [episodes]. So, you know, it was what it was. We’re in the position that we’re in, but I do think that it was a great start to what will be if season two happens, a bit of backstory.
N&B: And in that episode too, we really get to see how Gus and Calian became friends and how they met. Can you talk more about their relationship and what you love most about it?
Philemon: I love the sense that they come from two completely different worlds, but can find the humanity in both each other and say that’s enough to create a friendship, to create a bond, to see where it goes. A lot of times, even in today’s time, you judge somebody based on how they look or if you find out their background, etc. and you never really get to see that person. When you meet me and Calian for the first time, you meet me hurt and Calian with an arrow pointed at me. That is me accepting my fate.
He actually was giving me time to finish my letter because I said, “Hey, let me finish my letter and you can do whatever you want.” But you know, I can’t speak to Justin’s thought process behind it. But for me, it was that common ground, and even in 12 when … lord, I’m not going to remember it all the way, But when Gus says, “There’s a thing that happens on the frontier when basically stuff fades away, and the only thing we have is the sky above our heads and the dirt at our feet.” It’s true. All of that other rigmarole, it just goes away and you are stuck person to person and I think that is a gem to take away, is going by person to person experience versus what you hear and what you’ve seen other people experience and go off of your own experience.
N&B: Reading the script for episode 12, was there someone’s backstory other than Gus’ that you were most surprised about?
Philemon: Hoyt’s. I will say baby Hoyt, because when we were reading it, I was like, “Wait, I think gonna have a baby Hoyt. Oh, yes!” And the kid who played baby Hoyt, he was so sweet, so nice. But he really captured it. He captured Matt Barr so well, and that backstory was interesting because Hoyt was brought into this world and continues to be in the world because of his Mom. It was very interesting to see that because a lot of times and again, it goes back even today that when we’re kids we are influenced, majorly influenced, by who our parents are, and where we grew up. It just shows that it brought it over into adulthood. And Hoyt now is starting to have a better moral compass and saying, “No, this isn’t right. Maybe I shouldn’t.” It was very interesting to see the story of Hoyt and to get that little surprise with Mr. Jared Padalecki.
N&B: In the finale, we see Gus get saved by Abby. Then you have a great storyline where there’s that whole big epic shootout, and the last shot is fired by Gus. Can you talk about filming that big shootout scene and the kind of justice it brought for Gus to get that last shot?
Philemon: I wasn’t there when they were filming that big shootout scene. The funny part was they filmed that earlier on in the morning and I came in midway through the day. So I was able to get sleep [laughs]. But I think it was the culmination of what everybody character-wise in Independence had wanted. You know, fans may have a different outlook on it. I do know that there are some diehard Tom Davidson fans, so I’m not gonna say anything to upset them [laughs].
N&B: [hides face].
Philemon: [laughs] But, you know, I think the cathartic thing was as you watch the series or season 1 progress, you see how intentional Tom is to kind of get under Gus’ skin and how intentional he is with manipulative tactics and you know, Gus finally coming to that point where he’s in the barn and he handcuffs Tom, even though Gus is at the brink of dying, he’s like, “No, I’m gonna get you, this is gonna happen,” and then bam, he gets knocked out. But, I think for Gus it was, in a weird way, cathartic. Like, “Finally, finally!” When I read 13 and I saw that I actually take the shot at him, I was like, “Whaaaaaat?!”
N&B: Gus has had some pretty epic lines throughout the series. What has been one of your favorites?
Philemon: It would be one that got cut [laughs]. Me and Matt, we … if you get me and Matt, and the same for me, Matt and Katie, and the same for me Matt, Katie and Kat and Justin, it’s a mess … it is totally a mess [laughs]. And we are so comfortable with each other that we will just throw random things out there. But notably, there was a moment and again, it is not in the final cut. Maybe they’ll put it out in the gag reel, I don’t know. But Matt is talking about … he was gonna go to the Undertaker’s and I was gonna go do something … and I’m walking off and I say, “Won’t be necessary – you got a date with a skeleton.” It was so funny. But it never made it.
N&B: I know one of my favorites was towards the beginning of the season, where you’re talking to Tom and you’re like, “You care to take that tone with me again?”
Philemon: Do you know what? That was improvised.
N&B: I was going to say, I remember you saying it was improvised.
Philemon: That was improvised. You know with our cast, it’s so comforting to be able to play on the day. We’ll rehearse our scene and go about it that way, but when you’re in the moment, things just come out. It’s so interesting to see what happens and that was not planned at all. Greg did turn around and was like, [makes side-eye].
N&B: It was all perfectly in character. I know this is going to be hard to pick, but what is one of your favorite moments on set?
Philemon: It wouldn’t be anything for filming. It would be … we were on stage one day, and they were saying that they were going to play the episode for the crew. So during our lunch break, we all went to go get our lunch and then we were coming back to the studio, and just to be with everybody watching it, and to see the crew’s reaction to what we were doing … I felt full in that moment. Because they were able to see [it] and honestly I think them seeing that put even more of fire under their asses, not in the sense of even work harder, but they saw what we were trying to do and saw what we were trying to create and they showed up and showed out every single day. Yeah, so that would be one of my favorite moments. I have many, but I will say that one because that one has not been spoken.
N&B: If there is a second season, what would you want to see for Gus? Is he going to be the Sheriff now?
Philemon: Sheriff, that’s a given.
N&B: With Hoyt as his deputy?
Philemon: Me and Matt, we’ve talked about that. And the dynamic of Gus and Hoyt is so interesting. I was like, I didn’t know that I needed this but I think that maybe with a second season if it comes, fingers crossed, we’ll be able to explore more of who Augustus is and why he is such a mystery still. I think that Gus is the only character besides Tom in a sense of trying to get into his head, who is still very mysterious. You don’t really know that much about him. You know certain things, but you don’t know certain things. So it’ll be interesting to see where the writers want to go … where we can merge ideas and collaborate on where we want to take Augustus. I am very interested to see. I do know that if second season comes, there are going to be some things in the second season that are going to throw everybody for a loop.
N&B: So I have some fan questions for you. From Irena: she said in a similar scene in the first season of Walker, there’s a mirror between what happens with you and Tom and also Liam and Clint, who’s Walker‘s first season’s villain. Liam gets shot, and then he ends up getting up and shooting the villain and saving the day, which kind of mirrors you shooting Tom. Was there any talk of any sort of mirroring of Walker? Or is that do you think just a coincidence?
Philemon: Honestly, Seamus is so calculated. It could be a thing of it was a mirror… idea behind it. But Seamus is so calculated, you’ll never know. Seamus even… there’s an episode where he gives Mark Sheppard, who I absolutely adore, I adore that man, he gave Mark Sheppard … because Seamus was one of the writers on Battlestar Galactica … and Seamus gave Mark Sheppard the first line he wrote for Battlestar Galactica to say on our show. So Seamus is full circle. Yeah, I wouldn’t put it past him.
N&B: From Mihaela: If you were to have a cameo in Walker, would you play a good guy or a villain?
Philemon: I would want to play the bad guy. That’s another thing you know, Gus hasn’t had his moment to like, let everything out. So I would definitely want to play the bad guy.
N&B: From Almudena: Was there a specific moment or scene that made you fall in love with Gus as a character?
Philemon: Yes, my love for Augustus has grown throughout the season because when we first came on for the pilot, you get a glimpse of who Augustus is, and even me as the actor, I’m trying to still feel him out and see who he is and what he’s about. But you’ve always gotten this sense of him being very strong and very not combative, but you’re not going to get your way. So as the season progresses, there’s a couple moments when Tom tries to get under his skin and he just doesn’t do anything about it. He takes it because he’s biding his time and just as it progresses, you see Gus get a little bit more and a little bit more and a little bit more over Tom’s BS. As in when we were shooting 5… in the moment that you were talking about where I was like, “You care to take that tone with me again?” Certain moments weren’t planned but as the character, it was little things … like we’re out on the frontier, if something happens to you, nobody will know. Then even when digging the grave for Griffin when he was like, you know, “Maybe you’ve done this a couple of times.” Gus does not miss a beat. You just have power and subtlety. And that is who Augustus says he is, a very powerful, subtle human being. You don’t see him go off the rails and even when you do like in 5 or 6, 6 or 7, one of the two, where Calian finally comes in, he’s just like, Tom Davidson shot Liam Collins and Gus has his little thing like, “Damn, does everybody think I’m a fool?” He’ll let it out, but again his moral compass, it’s just so strong. That is the one thing as the actor I am enjoying the most of, is just playing a character who is strong, but who also was flawed. Which again we’ll explore in a second season.
N&B: From Alex: What’s your favorite Gus and Tom Davidson moment?
Philemon: When I shoot him [laughs]. I love Greggy, I call him Greggy. But I love Greg Hovanessian. He is so sweet and nothing like his character. It’s so funny, our executive producer when me and Greg would first do scenes would be like, “I don’t know how you guys do it,” because once we cut, it’s me and Greg, just holding each other and playing and like being in each other’s spaces, it’s so weird. And once you hear action, we’re back at it. We’re locked in. I can’t pick a favorite moment. But if I had to, I would say the beginning of 4. Gus and Tom are walking down the street and Gus is telling him about how the town came to be and then Pax Romana. But, we’re having that conversation … but it does gear towards what Gus wants for Independence, which is the reign of Augustus. So it’s like a little thing where Gus is like, I kind of see you now, let me… and Tom was like it’ll be a while before we get to that Pax Romana. Yeah, sure. [laughs]
N&B: I have a few rapid-fire questions to end it.. are you ready?
Philemon: Let’s see if I can do it, go for it.
N&B: What color would your lightsaber be?
N&B: Favorite childhood cartoon?
Philemon: Rolie Polie Olie.
N&B: What is your favorite word?
N&B: What is your favorite holiday?
N&B: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Philemon: Hell no.
N&B: Finally, what’s your favorite Girl Scout cookie?
Philemon: I hate Girl Scout cookies.
Philemon: No, I’m just joking [laughs]. I love a Samoa.
N&B: Team Thin Mints!
Philemon: I do not like them, I do not like a Thin Mint [laughs].
The first season of Walker: Independence is available to watch in its entirety on The CW app for free. You can keep up with all of our coverage of the series, here.