The Walking Dead has been treacherously overflowing with twists and turns for its characters. But for Michael Cudlitz, who portrayed one of those fictional personas, there was something that he feared even more than a dreaded zombie apocalypse. And that’s because Michael is such a fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead, along with the graphic novels on which they are based, that Cudlitz was more concerned for the storyline than his character’s survival, reported the Los Angeles Times.
It might seem gruesome to admit happiness over a death. However, Michael explained that when he focused on The Walking Dead as a true fan rather than look at the future of his character in the show, he cared more about whether his death detracted from the overall plot than survival of the zombie apocalypse.
“Being a fan of the show, I wanted to make sure that my death didn’t take away from Steven’s [Yuen] death. I was very concerned about that as a fan.”
Cudlitz also offered his views on Sgt. Abraham Ford in terms of the meaning of that character in The Walking Dead. At the end of Season 6, fan favorite Abraham was horrifically killed by Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The departure was seen as a sacrifice done for the overall group.
Reflecting on the meaning of the horrible death scene, complete with bat bashing, Michael clarified that he views it as a key part of The Walking Dead. But although it was essential to the plot, Cudlitz also had been concerned about the possibility that the death would overshadow the departure of another character.
Even though Abraham had been methodically woven into the plot of The Walking Dead, Michael contends that “Steven [as] Glenn made the show.” Cudlitz pointed out that he watched Steven “grow up as an actor.” When it comes to the storyline, Michael reveals that he cherished two actors in particular.
“Steven and Melissa McBride … I felt they had the greatest arc that I enjoyed following most,” said The Walking Dead star. “They were sort of the heart and soul — so far as the direction, the moral compass, always pulling everybody back, especially after Hershel had passed.”
As both a fan and a star of The Walking Dead, Cudlitz expressed satisfaction with how the death scene was crafted.
“I’m kind of happy that a majority of the focus leaned on Glenn’s death.”
Giving credit to the writers for their portrayal of how Abraham managed his fate with courage, Michael also revealed that he made the decision on precisely how Abraham would present himself to Negan, and it’s all about The Walking Dead character becoming the “ultimate” soldier for the group.
“That was him being a soldier,” summed up Cudlitz. “He knew. He had assessed this whole situation.”
As a result, because Abraham was aware that “someone in this group had to go,” as the “ultimate soldier” the character “was willing to take it for the next guy,” explained Michael.
While receiving a script and not knowing your fate when it comes to the zombie apocalypse could result in career-agonizing suspense (does your character live or die?), Cudlitz didn’t go through any death agony worries about The Walking Dead plot. The actor already knew his character’s arc because he was so familiar with Robert Kirkman’s graphic novels.
Michael’s awareness that death was approaching for his character got the ultimate confirmation when he received a call from The Walking Dead writer Scott M. Gimple. The actor knew the meeting meant more than a chance to eat doughnuts and chat about life in general.
“I knew, I mean, I knew it was time,” admitted The Walking Dead star.
“It’s always sad to leave a place where the working conditions are fantastic, the stories were great, the people were great. I understand that [he had to die].”
Although Cudlitz had “processed” the death, he still felt “sad” about leaving The Walking Dead group. But first he had to survive the technical aspects of seeing himself sent off. The actor revealed that there were “a lot of prosthetics involved up until the actual hit.”
And there was a lot of shivering as well. Shot in extremely cold temperatures, the exhausting 12-hour scene meant that the actors had to stay on their feet for about four straight hours. But it only took 30 minutes of filming for Michael to regret that he himself had decided to have Abraham stay upright.
As for how Cudlitz reacted to the scene, it wasn’t a “big deal” because there was so much technical work involved.
“For us, that moment is broken down into two nights of six hours each night of prosthetics,” explained The Walking Dead actor. “For us, [as actors], it’s a very technical thing.”
As a fan, however, Michael felt moved by his own favorite character.
“When I saw Steven get beaten, it was horrific, because he was my favorite character.”
As for the possibility of a crossover between Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead, Cudlitz offered up his own views on why it wouldn’t work, reported ComicBook.
Noting that his favorite aspect of playing Abraham Ford was the “fan reactions,” Michael credited the positive feedback to the fact that The Walking Dead has become known for being “way over the top.”
In contrast, Fear the Walking Dead takes a less fantasy-based approach to the zombie apocalypse. As a result, Cudlitz contends that if one of the Walking Dead characters showed up in the world of Fear the Walking Dead, they wouldn’t mesh.
“Fear is based much more in a realistic reality where I believe ours is a heightened reality because of the graphic novel,” summed up The Walking Dead star.
[Featured Image by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for AMC]