Last weekend saw the now annual Walker Stalker Convention come to London. This year the event had a new home at the Excel London, but still gave fans all the same interaction with their favourite stars of The Walking Dead. In addition to autographs, selfies, and professional photo shoots, fans could also attend panels featuring the cast. For those that couldn’t attend, here are some highlights.
All three of the men in Rosita’s life – Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) and Siddiq (Avi Nash), were present for a panel. As we know, Rosita is dating Gabriel, is pregnant by Siddiq, and is the woman that Eugene is in love with. When asked who would raise Rosita’s baby, the group all agreed that it should be Eugene. Josh McDermitt said, “I hope Eugene raises this baby because I think he’d be a great father. He’d be a much better parent than Carol, I mean she can’t even keep her kids.”
Not only is Carol now famed on the show for being terrible at looking after children, but it seems that she really likes killing off the same family of actors. Avi Nash pointed out that “they’re all family in real-life. It’s like she has it out for the Lintz family!” Madison Lintz played Carol’s original daughter Sophia whom wandered off only to be found reanimated in Hershel’s barn. Her two brothers, Macsen and Matt Lintz, have both played Henry – one before the time jump, and one post the time jump, and whose head recently turned-up on one of Alpha’s pikes.
This season after the time jump it was revealed that Daryl was living in the woods with only a dog (handily named Dog) as company. It’s the closest we’ve come to seeing ‘pets’ on The Walking Dead, and being a nation of animal lovers it seems that this was something that had captured the attendees attention. In panels with both Chandler Riggs and Cailey Fleming, and Alexandrians Avi Nash, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, and Josh McDermitt, pet related questions arose. Cailey was asked what pet her character Judith would have and she replied, ‘dolphin’, while Chandler whom played Judith’s older and now deceased brother Carl, opted for a tiger just like King Ezekiel. In the Alexandrian panel the question of will we see anymore animals as pets in show was met with a sad answer from Josh McDermitt:
“When you film with an animal it’s very difficult. Even a trained animal. We just try and limit our exposure to that. I mean the horses are great but whenever we have a horse day as we call it, it just takes a lot longer and we don’t have a lot of time. When you see Daryl with his dog, the dog is always running away because it’s easy for the dog to just run to the trainer.”
Another theme that ran through a few panels was bringing deceased characters back from the dead, either on the show or in their own series. Josh McDermitt picked Jon Bernthal’s Shane due to his character being ‘a bit of a troublemaker.’ Cailey Fleming, whom hasn’t seen any of the previous seasons, opted for her big brother Carl so they could hang out. But it was the unlikely character of Gareth from the Terminus group that captured the imagination of both Aaron actor Ross Marquand and Chandler Riggs. Marquand actually originally auditioned for the role of Gareth and really liked the idea that “you would turn to cannibalism to survive.” In his panel Chandler went into a little more in-depth;
“I don’t know if you remember, but the trailer for season five they edited to mislead that the people from Terminus were going to come join the group and go to Washington together to try and cure the disease. I really like that story-line. I thought that actually sounds awesome. I would love to watch a season of that and then died in like episode two. I think it would be kind of cool to bring Gareth back and see his story arch changing to this completely different person, and not be a cannibal. I think it would be really, really cool.”
Siddiq was the only character to survive Alpha’s brutal attack on the Kingdom’s fair in the penultimate episode of season nine. He was also the only survivor of the walker attack that claimed the life of Carl Grimes. When asked if Siddiq would be feeling guilty again, Avi Nash had the following to say.
“In the show it’s been two years since Carl, but in his life there’s been eight years between those two massive guilt events. I think he’s going to have to deal with a massive amount of survivor’s guilt going forward. I don’t know what that’s going to look like. In many respects I feel like he gave a beautiful touching speech and then he gets off of that stage and really has to question how much of that he can really believe himself. I’m probably going to be really depressed in eight months.”
One head that wasn’t on a pike, but is in the comics, is that belonging to King Ezkiel played by Khary Payton. Payton was very ‘excited to miss out on the pikes’. He also shared that it’s been killing him keeping his survival secret, ‘There’s always like thirteen year-old boys who come up to me and say “I know how you’re gonna die’. I had to hold it in for months because I was like, ‘no you don’t. You have no idea. I’m not gonna die!”
If they have any choice in how their on-screen counterparts die, Ross Marquand and Seth Gilliam both have very clear ideas about how they want Aaron and Gabriel to go. Marquand doesn’t want to ‘go down swinging and saving people’ like most other folks respond, no he wants to die in ‘the most ridiculous fashion.’ His ideal scenario? “I want to slip on a banana peel and crack my head open.” Gilliam has something more subdued and serene in mind for Gabriel, “A peaceful, quiet death in his sleep would be good for Father Gabriel, at the age of ninety-four.”
Rather than die, if Khary Payton and Cooper Andrews (Jerry) could decide how to end the apocalypse, they both had a similar line of thinking – some sort of music show or festival near a volcano. Andrews put it like this – “I was thinking of having a rock concert on a volcano, just play really loud music, bring all the walkers into a volcano pit. I just really want to see lava on The Walking Dead, is that hard to ask?”
Cailey Flemming joined the show this year, post time-jump, as an older version of Judith. Her character is pretty bad-ass for a youngster, and more than lives up to her ‘Lil’ Asskicker’ moniker that was coined for her when she was a baby. In preparation for the role, Cailey shared that she had gun training, katana training, and horse-riding lessons. She went on to share that the training was mostly about how to be safe and commended the crew on their safety standards:
“They always make sure everybody is kept in a place where they can be safe. They’re not just making us use the sword, they make sure everything is where it’s supposed to be. It’s really good to have trainers like that.”
This season the Kingdom got their movie theatre projector back up and running just in time for the fair. The choice of film picked on the show was decided by showrunner Angela Kang, but what films would Cooper Andrews and Kahry Payton pick? Payton would watch The Big Lebowski over and over and over again. Andrews’ choice was influenced by a recent re-watch, “I just watched it the other day, True Lies. I think T2 [Terminator 2], True Lies and Predator for like the best action film. But I like True Lies because you get all of everything.”
Chandler Riggs’ Carl left the show in season eight. His death lead to Rick standing down on his mission to kill Negan, opting instead to imprison him. When asked whether if she thought Negan had changed, Cailey replied that she thought he had, and that it was through his relationship with Judith and Carl that he changed. She also commented that if he were ever reunited with Lucille, he’d be very handy with the Whisperers.
Negan and Judith’s relationship on the show fills in the relationship that Carl and Negan have in the comic books. While he might be dead on the show, Carl Grimes is very much alive in the comic world. This obviously lead to a lot of panel questions to Chandler about how it feels seeing characters like Judith and Henry take over Carl’s comic book plot strands, his response was that it was ‘super-cool’ to watch. He has been friends with Matt Lintz who plays older Henry for years, and while he had been excited to play out the Carl and Lydia story, he was excited that he could see his friend do it. Riggs also pointed out that he’s really happy with the time he had on The Waling Dead, but is very happy he can now pursue other projects:
“For eight years from May to November out of the year I couldn’t do anything else. There’s a lot of things that shoot between May and November so I couldn’t audition for that many things. I was pretty tied down with school and now it’s really great to be able to have an open world and do whatever I want and now I’m on a new MTV show and it’s great to be able to do other things outside of The Walking Dead.”
If the King and Jerry were to be able to do anything, Khary Payton loves the idea of the duo having a ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in the apocalypse’ recreation. “We’d go to the museum, kill some zombies. We sit down at a nice restaurant, kill some zombies. We steal his dad’s car. We skip school. I think it would be an awesome time.”
The final episode of season nine saw winter arrive on The Walking Dead. Given that Game of Thrones is back in just under two weeks, and several stars of the show were also at the convention, the question was inevitably asked about who from The Walking Dead would end up on the Iron Throne. Ross Marquand thought that although Negan was an obvious choice, it was more likely to be Alpha and Beta. “I’ll be honest, I’m pretty scared of Alpha and Beta. They’re pretty bad-ass. I think they’ve got a real good shot.” He went onto say that he didn’t think it was likely that any of the people within his panel would end up on it, with the exception of Eugene, “Eugene might only because he’s very conniving, kind of like Littlefinger.”
The Walking Dead returns to television screens for season ten in October 2019.