INTERVIEW: The Walking Dead’s Michael Cudlitz talks season 6 and incredible fans
After a winter break spent wondering what would happen after Alexandria’s walls fell in the midseason finale, The Walking Dead has finally returned to FOX.
One of the newer recruits to Rick Grimes’ misfit band of survivors is the former marine Abraham Ford, played by Michael Cudlitz of Band of Brothers fame. After saving Glenn and Tara at the start of series four, Abraham was determined to bring scientist Eugene to Washington DC in order to save the world. Of course, Eugene wasn’t really a scientist, and so Abraham’s plans went up in flames. In the sensational midseason opener last Monday, Abraham saved Glenn from almost certain death once more. It seems like the man has regained his mojo.
We spoke to Cudlitz at Walking Dead fan convention Walker Stalker in London about season six, the fan reaction to Abraham and that famous moustache.
Your list of TV credits is really extensive. How is The Walking Dead different to anything you’d done before?
In so many ways. When you’re doing the work, the work is the work. What you do not have any control over is what happens once you do it, and this is at a whole other level. I’m very fortunate to be involved in some really well done projects – Band of Brothers, Southland – stuff I’m very very proud of and had very intense fan bases and a lot of response from the media and the fans. But this level of intensity from mature people – it’s not like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Beverly Hills 90210 – these are adults. I’ve had grown women break down in tears when they see these characters or meet these people. The way they connect with the show has been fantastic and something I can’t wrap my head around.
My character was introduced in Comic Con in New York two and a half years ago. I thought I knew what the fan response was. There’s a shot of me floating around the internet where I walked up on stage after I’d been announced. There was so much noise coming from the crowd I thought I had to acknowledge it, so I raised my hand and it threefold increased. If you zoom in on my face on that photo, it is fucking terror. It’s like holy shit. It was this wall of sound and wall of support. Amazing.
It seems to be because of the characters. People really latch on to them.
It all comes down to story, it all comes down to characters, when you really get to the nuts and bolts of it. When you see shows that are very large and very successful, when they start to fall apart is when they start to lose character stuff. [The Walking Dead producers] know the stories they want to tell, and once a character’s story has been told they get killed. Which is a great way to cycle through and bring in new characters, new perspectives and new stories. The show is constantly renewing itself and staying fresh. As much as we hate to see these characters go, we love to see the new characters come in. I think the show has a lot of years left in it, there’s still a lot of stories to tell.
Moving on to season six, is there love in the air with Sasha?
There’s always love in the air.
He’s made his feelings known, but do you think it’s reciprocated?
Well yeah, she didn’t tell him to go pound sand or anything. She said you’ve got some shit to deal with, he said yeah I do. Maybe we go back and deal with the shit, maybe we move forward.
How is this relationship different with Sasha than it is with Rosita?
I think that’s one of the things we’re going to find out and hopefully enjoy watching. Why would he choose to leave a strong, sexy, beautiful woman? Or choose one over the other? Does he have to choose one over the other?
Abraham is pretty intense. How do you cope with that after the scene is done?
For whatever reason, that’s a part of me that is extremely accessible. I can very easily and very very quickly tune in and out of it, and it’s fun. I can’t really explain it. That’s what I do.
Is the moustache going to survive to the end of the season?
I have a theory on the way Kirkman draws his characters. Everything in the graphic novel is grayscale. He makes it very clear so you know who you’re looking at when you move from panel to panel. Michonne with the dreads, and Rick has a very certain look. So you move from panel to panel in your head, you know exactly in your head – that’s Abraham. So that’s why is hair is always pretty much perfect all the time. So yeah, this [gestures to moustache] is staying.