We went on a roundtable with the 4 prominent cast members of AMC’s The Walking Dead, Khary Payton (Ezekiel), Callan McAuliffe (Alden), Elanor Matsuura (Yumiko) & Josh McDermitt (Eugene). In this exclusive interview, we spoke to them about everything that can happen in the upcoming, final season of The Walking Dead. From how they want their characters to die, to talking about the philosophy of their characters, they dished a lot. Check it out below!
Q. Khary, can we expect any flashback of Ezekiel and his time as a Zookeeper in the earlier seasons?
Khary Payton: Um, I would tell you to expect the unexpected. There’s so much story that we’re telling, none of which I’m going to tell you about (laughs). We all spent these last few months shooting all this, I just feel like it would be wrong of me to just tell you in a zoom call. So, how about this, why don’t we set up, pour drinks, get together, and I will tell you all about it.
Callan McAuliffe: Khary, is it episode 6 where they do the flashback and you fall in the panda enclosure?
Khary Payton: Oh my god, you know the crazy thing is, a panda is much harder to do CGI. So obviously, we had to just go ahead and go with the panda that I keep here at the house. And although he’s not as bubbly, you know, we just don’t have the bamboo here…
Callan McAuliffe: I still can’t believe you managed to outbid Nicolas Cage for that. It’s crazy.
Khary Payton: It’s incredible. I’m excited.
Q. How many episodes are yet to be filmed? Or have they all finished?
Khary Payton: Oh its far from over? I don’t know if we are quite halfway done, but we’re nearing the midway point. But we’re going to go shooting well into next year. So I feel like there’s just a lot of story, you know, yet to unfold and yet to be told, and yet to even be decided upon in a lot of ways.
Q. Do they tell you ahead of time, whether your character is going to make it through the end of this show or not?
Khary Payton: You’d like to think that (laughs). You know it’s funny to be on a show like this one that when you get on a hit TV show and you pop the champagne and you’re thinking “Oh, it’s time to it’s time to celebrate”, this is one of those shows that you get on and you are just waiting for that phone call around the corner to tell you that all of your dreams and aspirations are about to be dashed and the limousine that drove you here is not taking you back, “Take the Uber app off of your phone because you are going to need that get back to wherever you’re going”. So this show is a cruel mistress in that way. It gives a lot but it can take it all the way in a heartbeat.
Callan McAuliffe: Did you guys all save Angela Kang, in your phones with the skull and crossbones emoji, its terrifying every time she calls.
Khary Payton: Which is funny cause she’s got such a brilliant happy little smile.
Callan McAuliffe: It’s true.
Eleanor Matsuura:I never say hello to Angela. I just say, Am I dead? Okay, how’s it going? (Laughs)
Q. This question is for everyone. Would you rather your character have the glorious Braveheart death? Or would you want to be in the series as still a living member of whatever society looks like in the end?
Callan McAuliffe: If I had it my way, the character’s death would be so unremarkable as to be remarkable. I would want him to trip on some puddle and bang his head on the corner of a marble counter and for it to never go mentioned again. Or in mid conversation just a heart attack.
Josh McDermitt: Yeah, I personally I want Eugene to die of old age, that would be my hope because I feel like he deserves it. I feel like he is a guy that everyone just expected to, even myself included, be gone after two episodes because it’s like there’s no way this guy’s living, but he’s figured out a way and has been a little cockroach about it. I would hope that he dies of old age but, look, if they do decide that it’s time for him to go. I would at least hope they do justice and give him a hero’s death just because I think he does deserve it, just based on who he was and where he’s been and kind of how far he’s come. He’s certainly been the hero many times before, so it’s not, you know, out of the realm of possibility that he would have a hero’s death. I just hope that if it came to that they would at least do that for him.
Khary Payton: Yes, jumping off a cliff, dreadlocks flying in slow motion in the wind, a full orchestral score.
Callan McAuliffe: Did I tell you about the way I hope to die, that sounds remarkably similar. I like to tell 100 friends that I’d died or have them told, have them gather on a cliff top and then emerge dramatically from the coffin to the gospel choir and leap gracefully into the sea.
Khary Payton: You know, we’re closer than we think, man. I had not heard you tell that but it does not surprise me. And I hope to be standing on the same cliff one day.
Callan McAuliffe: The convoluted aspect is that I wanted there to be a shark tank at the bottom so that I dived into the sea, but landed into Shark Tank, it ate me. And then we piece up the shark and fire the sharks ashes into space. After it’s reconstituted my flesh.
Eleanor Matsuura:Don’t do that to space. Space has got enough trouble with all these rockets going.
Callan McAuliffe: It will be biomass debris and wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous as flying metal. (Laughs)
Eleanor Matsuura:I think, of course everyone, if they’re going to go, wants the big spectacular glorious death. Of course you do. Like these are our characters we’ve lived with them and they’ve been a part of us for so long. If that’s the way you want to go, you want it to do justice to the love you have for your character. I feel like I want for Yumiko I want her to have this long and happy life. We’ve only just discovered or we’re about to discover this whole other side of her past life that she had. I think we always forget, in The Walking Dead, because the seasons are so long, that actually a lot of the action happens only over a few days or a few weeks. I mean, there’s time jumps and stuff. But a lot of the story happens in these condensed moments. So we sort of forget that they’ve actually had these huge lives behind them. I mean, we learned that Yumiko had this extraordinary education. And she’s basically lived the life that my parents wish I had if I was smart enough to go to Oxford and Harvard, which I am definitely not. And I’m not saying that makes her a better person. I’m just saying that it’s this discovery of all this stuff that she still has to give that I think it would be a real crime to not have her live that out in all the ways that she could
Callan McAuliffe: I think she should be killed in a fight with someone wielding a judge’s gavel.
Eleanor Matsuura: Yeah, like in the courtroom. Gavel’s thrown at my head. It knocks me off. I grab judges wigs as I fall. Fell on the courtroom floor and then I get eaten by walkers.
Q. Is that the penultimate episode of the series?
Eleanor Matsuura:Listen, I can’t give anything away. (Laughs)
Q. This question is for Khary. One of the big thing that happens in season 10 is that we discover that Ezekiel has cancer, and he has to deal with some really dark things like a terminal disease and even suicidal tendencies. Is there a possibility that this character might attain some sort of peace or serenity throughout the run off season 11?
Khary Payton: I hope so, for Ezekiel sake. I want so much for him to define that inner light that seems to, you know, gravitate people to him, but you can’t have victory without adversity and so here we are, trying to tell a story that’s still captivating. I had this push and pull because I so desperately want him to be okay and to just be at the forefront and be the big leader guy. But the thing that has drawn people to him is the fact that his life is messy and he’s had all of this loss, but he does keep his head up. I mean, he’s lost so much, that I think it’s enough to break a lot of people and it’s been nice to know that the journey of this character has resonated with a lot of people and helped them when it comes to dealing with adversity. To kind of set themselves aside and find a companion or a character to be able to live through and say, “You know what, if Ezekiel can do it, I can do it.” It’s meant a lot to me over the years, to have been a part of telling the story of a character that can be that person for anyone.
Q. This question is for Callan, Alden is more hard and likes to build things, is it safe to say that he grew up in a house where he had to take a lot of responsibility at a young age. And also my second question is does he feel like Maggie is getting too cold to other survivors?
Callan McAuliffe: To the first question, yeah, it was always an understanding between me and the showrunners. That he, in the early part of the apocalypse had been going around with his brother, I believe he was his younger brother. And I imagined that the dynamic there was that the Alden had to become something of, not necessarily a builder or a blacksmith, but certainly someone that you can trust to get things done and to bring things together. So that’s certainly been a part of his life. Given that we see him building all manner of weapons and catapults and that sort of thing. We can assume he had some kind of a training. To the second question, I think he’s definitely seeing a side of Maggie that perhaps he didn’t expect? And she has, for so long, been the fulcrum around which his stability swings, especially in the beginning. And I think he finds that contrast disturbing. Yeah.
Q. My question is, again, for Callan, your character Alden was Team Negan in the beginning, and now he is with Maggie. And if there is a war to happen in season 11, Which side do you think would prevail considering Alden’s experience in both those factions?
Callan McAuliffe: I don’t think he was ever Team Negan. I think he was, as most people in life are, a victim of ugly circumstance. And he went where the winds blew. But I like to think that he’s kind of alighted in the right place. So, his allegiance should be clear, even when there’s a conflict.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
The Walking Dead had an amazing run, but The Walking Dead fans need not worry as there are many upcoming spin-offs for which we all are keenly waiting. The Walking Dead Season 11 premieres on August 22 and it really feels weird to see this humongous show finally coming to an end.
Stay tuned for our review of the first two episodes of The Walking Dead Season 11. As mentioned The Walking Dead Season 11 premieres Sunday, August 22 at 9pm ET/8c on AMC, and all 11A episodes will air one week early on AMC+, beginning August 15.