SPOILER ALERT: read on only if you have already seen the mid-season finale of "Evolution" on Sunday The Walking Dead.
Jesus is dead And unlike both his namesake and the zombies that plague the post-apocalyptic landscape in The Walking Dead, you should not expect it to rise from the dead in the short term. Jesus (a.k.a. Paul Rovia) came to an end at the end of half of Sunday's season when a zombie who planned to behead unexpectedly dodged his swing and then eliminated the Hilltop leader. It was later discovered that the enemy, known to fans of comics as the Whisperers, was actually human beings with zombie skin masks on their faces. (More information from the showrunner Angela Kang about these mysterious new enemies here.)
How does actor Tom Payne feel about killing his character? Pretty good, actually! It turns out that Payne had been frustrated over the past few years by seeing Jesus relegated a little to the sidelines and not being able to perform some of the spectacular action exploits of his comic counterpart. He even suggested that the producers kill him to raise the bet during the war with the Saviors.
But Payne loves the farewell that Jesus received: a scene of old school terror that culminated with a spooky cemetery, a great fight scene and then a shocking and emotional farewell. We contacted Payne to have a complete view of Jesus' last position and everything that led to it. Read the two pages of the full interview and also be sure to check out our interview with Kang.
ENTERTAINMENT ONLY: When and how did you receive the news of Jesus' untimely death?
TOM PAYNE: Well, you discover a previous episode, because that's when we received the scripts, so just before we started recording episode 7, I think it probably was at the end of July? In fact, I missed the first call from [showrunner Angela Kang], and I was sending a text message with my girlfriend and I said: "Oh, I just missed a call from Angela, maybe it's the call, ha ha ha ha". I returned the call and I was the call. I was like, oh, it's okay. I was quite relaxed, I had reached a point in the show where I was a bit ecstatic, and I like: "Well, you know, I have to do more with my character, otherwise, I'm fine with being killed. "
Then, when Angela told me, I think she was a little surprised when I said, "Oh, it's okay, great." I like "How is it going to be?" Because in my heart I'm a storyteller, so as long as it's great and tells a good story, I agree. When I discovered how we were doing it, I felt super happy and excited to tell that story.
Michael Satrazemis, who filmed the episode, sent me a text message a couple of times: "I still want to come and be sad with you and give you a hug and those things, but you look very happy all the time." And I was! I had a great time filming that episode, because I felt like I was going back to the roots of the show. It was horror and it was so atmospheric, and then the turn in the story at the end was so incredible that I am very happy that we could tell a great story that was unexpected and shocking. That's what you want in this program, and I'm glad we can provide that for you.
All that episode felt like the horror of the old school. You know this is happening, you know it's coming, and then you walk into that foggy cemetery, I felt like I was watching an old horror movie from the 70's.
Yes, the whole episode. That final sequence was shot on a stage, but before that we were in the fields and there is a high shot where we are approaching the barn where Eugene is. It seems that there is CGI, but here it was not at all. We flooded those fields with smoke and it was so spooky and great, it was a fun episode. You really felt that we were making a movie. It was really great and we all had a lot of fun doing it.
It was nice for me to go back to work with Ross, Josh and Norman, and have a great story. They are not just men on a mission; It was like a kind of murder mystery, as if we were "Let's go look for Eugene", and then Eugene tells us this strange story. There was a time when we were at the crossroads, and we are trying to find out what is happening and we are on the edge. It was very fun to film because we could feel the energy of the episode and the spooky weirdness. It was great.
Yes, but finally they give you the man's bun and then they take you out!
[Laughs] Oh, I know. I was pretty focused on that, because I found the comics and I wanted to get that. I wanted him to have the tall man's armor, sword and bow and to do the Samurai thing. So I'm super happy that we've come to that. That was before we knew he was going to die. I know the costume was super excited, and then they say, "Oh, you're just going to use it for an episode and a little." But I'm happy that we have to do it, that we have a good fight sequence outside of it, and I got some great moves.
That's another part of what was so great, that the audience will be watching it and saying, "Oh, yes! Jesus is kicking ass! This is amazing! What?"I love that, that's what I want to hear, we're going to tell a good story, and I think Angela has been killing her this season and there's been a lot of work from everyone, and everyone is very excited about the way that the show goes this season.
And the death of Jesus certainly is a big surprise, because Jesus is still alive and kicking in the comic, so it's a big surprise.
Yes, definitely. This show is a beast different from comics. That was definitely the source of much frustration in the last two years, because Jesus can do some great things in the Savior's war. [in the comic]. As he has a fight with Negan, he grabs this grenade and throws it back. He is the most capable fighter of all, and he did not get used to it at all, apart from fighting with someone who is on his side. So, for me, that was a little frustrating because behind the scenes I've been working hard on all the martial arts and all that, and I've really wanted to go. But I'm happy that, in the end, we put everything there and that's great.
You know, you're usually happy in the program if you have something good to do, and I had a very good start and a very good ending, and that's enough for me. It is exciting to be part of this legacy show and then have really great moments in it. And I love that my character introduced the Saviors and now he is presenting the Whisperers in a really cool, rare, terrifying, unexpected way. I'm happy with that, definitely.
You mentioned that Jesus is an incredibly skilled fighter. So, how do you get it here? Is it the element of surprise that ultimately leads him to the conclusion that he can not even figure out what he is fighting with after the zombie crouches under his sword?
I think it really helped sell the moment. It was in the script at a time when the Whispers began to run in the group, and it was mentioned that maybe one of them runs for Jesus, but I think his instinct would not have captured him like that. If he had seen someone running towards him, even if it was a walker, his natural instincts would have dodged him and killed him.
But the fact that, for him, those who walk are nothing now, especially when he has this sword, so he is actually having fun. He goes out and kills those walkers, he's walking back and he sees those two and he says, "Oh, I'm just going to take this," he's not even concentrating. He says: "I'm going to get this out, and then I'm going to …" and it happens very fast and it's so unexpected at that moment.
That's the only way I could have gone, I think. A total surprise, as no one at that moment expected a walker to move like that, or certainly not kill him that way. I think that's probably the best way for him to leave. Otherwise, it was that or being overwhelmed by 20 men or something. The element of surprise is great because it configures that group as really terrifying and I love the end of the episode when everyone looks towards the fog, wondering what is coming out, what comes to get them. I really liked that there is a big surprise like that, and that prepares them very, very well. (The interview continues on the next page).