A friend to help weather Storm

Sarah Wayne Callies was thrilled that her Into The Storm co-star Richard Armitage knows Walking Dead friend Andrew Lincoln

American actress Sarah Wayne Callies assumes all English actors know one other, she says.

She is being facetious, of course, but she hit the nail on the head when she discovered that her latest co-star, Richard Armitage, is in fact friends with her former The Walking Dead leading man, Andrew Lincoln.

Speaking to Life! in a telephone interview this week to promote her new movie, Into The Storm, in which she stars with Armitage, she says with a chuckle: "After Richard was cast, I called Andy (Lincoln) to ask about him and it turns out they really knew each other from when they did Strike Back (2010) together.

"Andy told me that Richard is such a gentleman and he's so talented and all that. Unbeknown to me, Richard had done the exact same thing about me to Andy."

She adds cheerily: "Andy shortened the distance between Richard and me because we had someone who cared so much about the both of us say such nice things about us to the other person. So working with Richard from day one felt like I was working with a friend."

Callies has been playing opposite several Englishmen onscreen of late. Other than Armitage and Lincoln, she also guest-starred in an episode of House in 2010 alongside Hugh Laurie and was paired with Bill Ward in the TV movie, Tangled (2010), and Rupert Friend in the film, Lullaby For Pi (2010).

She says with a laugh: "I'm not sure what's going on. I have quite a few talented American friends who are getting frustrated with me. Of course, all of these British leading men have been fantastic - and maybe it has something to do with the fact that they come from comprehensive training programmes in their field.

"Maybe it gives them a better background before they get into the business, so it gives them an edge."

In her new film, Into The Storm, now showing in cinemas, the 37-year-old actress plays Allison, a climatology professor who is hired to follow and advise a group of professional storm chasers on capturing massive tornadoes on their cameras.

The storm chasers often have to run for shelter and get caught in dangerous situations, which means that her role is stunt-heavy - but that is something she relishes.

"I'm a physical and active person, so I love that part of the work. Even before this, The Walking Dead was a stunt-heavy show and Prison Break (2005-2009) and Tarzan (2003) before that."

Into The Storm is her first project since her major character, Lori Grimes, was killed in The Walking Dead last year to prevent her from turning into a zombie. While she enjoys working across "all medium", her decision to sign on to a movie as opposed to a TV series was not entirely by choice.

"I knew that I would be leaving the show in Season 3 and, if I had signed on to a TV series, everyone would have known that my character was to die. So I wasn't allowed to audition for any TV roles. Doing a movie, however, is possible, because you can arrange your time to shoot the film around your TV schedule."

She remains close friends with her former Walking Dead cast members. At the San Diego Comic Convention, or more fondly known as Comic-Con, last month, she got the chance to catch up with them. "It was an amazing reunion. I was there for Into The Storm, and they were there for The Walking Dead, so we had a wonderful dinner together and just sat down to catch up," she says excitedly.

Given that she is always referred to as "Sara from Prison Break or Lori from The Walking Dead" due to the popularity of both shows, you wonder if she is hoping to break away from such associations.

Says the actress, who is married to a martial arts teacher with a seven-year-old daughter: "I'm still very proud to be associated with those shows - they were wonderful projects and brought me more success than I ever imagined, so I feel very grateful.

"Fans of Prison Break and Walking Dead stay in touch with you long after you leave the show. It's touching when they stick around and support you, even if I'm not playing those roles anymore."


Follow Yip Wai Yee on Twitter @STyipwaiyee

Into The Storm is showing in cinemas.