To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.
Ross Marquand is best known for his role as Aaron on The Walking Dead, but his real life skills aren’t limited to zombie apocalypse survival. In fact, the Denver-born actor has an impressive pre-apocalyptic résumé that includes everything from Matthew McConaughey impressions to video game voice roles. He’s also a seasoned stage actor and he has a scout ranking that only four percent of its members ever achieve. Read on for five things you need to know about Marquand.
1. He portrayed Paul Newman on Mad Men.
Marquand was no stranger to AMC when he landed the TWD role. Two years before he signed on to play Aaron, the series’ first gay character, the actor played screen legend Paul Newman on an episode of the AMC period drama, Mad Men. The episode was Season 6’s “The Flood,” and Newman was the keynote speaker at an advertising awards dinner that the Sterling Cooper Draper Price employees attended on the day that Martin Luther King Jr. was killed.
2. He’s a proficient impressionist.
In addition to his obvious acting talents, Marquand is a master at impersonations. He has impersonated dozens of celebrities, including Kevin Spacey, Al Pacino, and Matthew McConaughey. Spacey himself has given Marquand a thumbs-up for his impression of him, according to the Coloradan.
The actor also turned his impressionist talents into a lucrative career as a voice actor for video games. Marquand told Gaming Conviction he voiced about 25 characters for the popular game Battlefield Hardline, voicing Russians, Bulgarians, “Florida swamp redneck guys,” and more. But Marquand draws the line at one type of impression. “I get asked to try and do women voices, but my tone is so low that I just can’t get there,” he revealed.
3. He landed the role of Aaron on TWD on his 33rd birthday.
Talk about a birthday present! On his 33rd birthday, Marquand got a call from his agent, telling him he had landed the role on AMC’s zombie hit. At the time, Marquand had been living in L.A. for 10 years and had just about given up hope of ever making a viable living as an actor. “Going from being a broke fan watching on my couch to actually being on it — there’s nothing better than that,” Marquand told Out of that fateful phone call. “I couldn’t pay bills a year and a half ago. I said, ‘I don’t know if this is going to work out for me.’ Then, luckily, I got the biggest break of my life.”
4. He’s an Eagle Scout.
Marquand joined the Boy Scouts and achieved the coveted rank of Eagle Scout, according to the Coloradan. “It’s really changed my life,” the actor said of his training, some of which later helped him for his stunts on TWD. Marquand actually started impersonating celebrities at campfire ceremonies with his troop.
5. He starred in a TWD co-star’s play.
In 2015, Marquand, who earned his BFA in theater at University of Colorado, starred in his co-star Danai Gurira’s play, Familiar, at Yale Repertory Theatre, playing the fiancé of an African American woman who decides on a traditional African marriage ritual. Of working with TWD’s Michonne in such a different environment, Marquand told AMC, “I just love Danai’s brain. She writes the most beautiful, human plays and it’s been a real thrill getting to work with her as a writer. It’s so interesting to see how she formulates ideas and writes from an actor’s perspective.”
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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