INTERVIEW: The Walking Dead stars on Carl’s death, gay romance and what to expect next
After last year’s shock cliffhanger, The Walking Dead is back for the rest of the season – albeit without one familiar face.
The death of long-term season regular Carl, played by Chandler Riggs, has completely changed the tone of the show. It’s a death that didn’t happen in the original comics and struck fans completely off-guard.
As the Alexandrians and allies inch closer to victory over the Saviours, the new season of the Walking Dead looks to be one of the most intense ever. We sat down with series regulars Austin Amelio (Dwight), Tom Payne (Jesus) and Ross Marquand (Aaron) to discuss the impact of Carl’s death, what’s still to come this season and a certain gay romance that takes place in the comics.
How do you feel Carl’s death has affected you on and off screen?
Tom: It’s a big diversification from the comic books, so it throws a hand grenade into the show from that respect. You can predict certain things from the comic books and certain things have happened and played out, but [Carl’s death] really does change everything up for everyone. I definitely said in the past I thought Carl was the future of the show, and that made absolute sense. It’s a big change.
On the show, when people leave, the group dynamic changes obviously, on screen and off screen and just to not have a young voice… We’ve got Katelyn [Nacon, who plays Enid], but to not have a young voice who’s been there from the very beginning, it’s kind of a weird thing.
Austin: He was one of the original pillars on the show. I think especially for Andy, it’s very tough for him.
Were you surprised then?
Ross: I think I learned about it when I first read the script. I was like, ‘oh my gosh!’. We all thought he was the future of the show, so it’s definitely a massive departure from the comics.
Tom: It’s definitely one of those things you hear and you’re like wait… no… like wow, okay.
What is Dwight’s long-term plan now? Nobody trusts him and his only playing card is the fact he knows how the Saviours work.
Austin: I don’t think he has a long-term plan right now. He’s kind of living day to day. He knows that he could go at any moment, with the moves he’s making. He’s a good guy and a bad spot. If he knows his time is coming, he wants some redemption and he wants to do some good for the world and I think that’s getting rid of Negan. That’s consuming his mind right now.
There’s no thought of finding Sherry?
Austin: I mean, long-term, sure. A nice honeymoon with Sherry would be nice. He would like to get back to his wife, but we’re living in a pretty dangerous world so I think he’s just focusing on what he can do right now.
Could we talk about Aaron’s personal journey in season eight?
Ross: I think the loss of [Eric] – I think it hit him like a ton of bricks. It’s affected him in that he’s living with more immediacy. I think he’s taking in every moment as it comes and just realising if he leaves that community, the Oceansiders, without them getting on board, he will have failed. The whole mission was to get them on the side of the Alexandrians so that we could all fight. He needs to get them on side so they will win this.
Otherwise, his life has no purpose right now. Gracie was a mission, he had to take this baby somewhere. Now he’s done that, he’s like, ‘what else can I focus on?’ because he can’t focus on the loss of Eric right now. He needs to focus his energy into something positive.
Aaron and Jesus have a romance in the comics. Is that something you would like to happen in the TV show?
Tom: We just chatted about that at lunch! First of all, [Aaron’s] boyfriend just died. We both find it funny when people approach us about that, it literally just happened, his boyfriend just died.
We also thought it might be quite lazy if that happened. It might be fun, actually, if we did a kind of a riff on it and had a funny conversation about it and just be like, ‘you know, everyone kind of thinks we should like…’ and just put it in the show. I think that would be quite funny. Not everyone on the show has a romantic relationship, there aren’t that many. It’s like Michonne and Rick and that’s it right now?
Austin: Dwight and Sherry.
Tom: She ran away. She’s gone.
Austin: In my eyes, she’s out there somewhere.
What can you hint about the rest of the season?
Ross: I think the conclusion to the war is the thing that’s most exciting to me, because the communities do come together at the end of the season in a really cool way.
Tom: Yeah, the war does end this season. Can we say that?
Ross: We can say that.