Exclusive: Michael Cudlitz talks „The Walking Dead“ Season 7, Negan & many more

Michael Cudlitz (Photo Credit: Gene Page / AMC)

„The Walking Dead“ Season 7 has returned October 24 in Germany. Actor Michael Cudlitz talked with german news site Serienfuchs.de about the new episodes, Abraham’s love life and why Negan is the final enemy for the survivors.

Note: This interview is also available in German.

„The Walking Dead“ left its fans hanging with a cruel cliffhanger in April. Since then theories and speculations have been flooding the fanbase, all looking for an answer for that one big question: Who did Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) kill on the „Walking Dead“ season finale? The answer will be revealed on October 24, 2016 in Germany when FOX will show the first episode of „The Walking Dead“ season 7. Actor Michael Cudlitz, who’s currently in Moscow, talked with Serienfuchs about the new episodes.

SERIENFUCHS: In the last episode we were introduced to a new villain. What do you think sets him apart from the other antagonists of the series? What makes Negan so intimidating?

MICHAEL CUDLITZ: Well, I think at this point we’re figuring that out as well but one of those things that Abraham notices, is that this is someone who has a sort of understanding to a degree of some sort of military — not maybe background. Abraham understands in the middle of the last episode that they’re dealing with something that’s a formidable you know, sort of mind. That there’s somebody who’s tactically and very specifically toying with them and he has a tremendous amount of numbers, meaning there’s a lot of them. And they have a lot of equipment. So he’s very quickly becoming very nervous.

So basically, the episode is about them noticing that Negan went from just the normal villain to somebody who is bigger than anybody they encountered before?

Yes. And also at the start of the episode, we feel like we’re in complete control and by the end of the episode we’re completely out of control.

What were your thoughts when you first read the script for the Season 6 finale and the start of Season 7?

Ah, I thought it was fantastic. … I thought the character development was amazing. It’s a fantastic sort of reset for the show. The launching point. You know, we have these characters that are coming in, that, you know, the audience is going to follow up with, you know, and love to hate or hate to love. You know we’re going to be parting with some favorites throughout the season. It’s a lot of stuff going on.

Ok, sounds good. Well, the cliffhanger left us biting our nails and on the edge of our seats. Fans are waiting to be put out of their misery since April now. What can they expect from Season 7?

Expect the unexpected.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The last episode of Season 6 is titled “Last Day on Earth”. How would you personally spend your last day on earth?

Umm, I don’t know. I would say: with family. With loved ones.

Speaking of the End, what would you consider the perfect ending for “The Walking Dead”?

That, you know, I’m not sure. I hope it’s whatever Kirkman decides he wants it to be. I hope that when it is time to end and that everyone knows in enough time that they can actually end the show. Not that it just sort of stops. Because the viewership started waning.

You are visiting many conventions, right now you are in Moscow and many fans visit the set during filming. What do you think was your most memorable fan moment you like to remember?

All the moment with the young kids. We all have wonderful moments where we get asked all sorts of questions and they share with us. We’ve had people do proposals in front of us. We’ve had people take pictures of us and get tattoos of us. Its all had been great. And it’s all positive, it’s all supportive. The fanbase is incredible.

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

In Season 6 we can see Abraham falling in love again — with Sasha! What did he find in her that Rosita couldn’t give him?

I think, when it really began it was a relationship of convenience for both, Abraham and Rosita. I don’t think it started out as a romantic relationship. I think it started out as a practical relationship and if you go back to the comics, which is what we base everything of, Rosita talks about how in the past she has used her beauty and her body to get to protect herself. And she always had said that Abraham was the first person she had met in the apocalypse who never wanted anything from her. So I think that they early on saw the strength in each other and the capability. She was very capable as it was but she was also open to learn from a military and tactical standpoint what Abraham had to teach her. And through that, just the closeness of that, and basically war they had found each other, you know, for physical comfort. Now he’s in a position where he has, where Abraham has actually found somebody that he can see spending the rest of his life with. You see that the moment after Abraham and Rosita are intimate, Rosita professes how much she’s falling in love with Abraham and he realizes at that point that they’re both in this for different reasons at this point. And he cannot keep going on hurting her. Which he realizes he is cause he’s not there fully and he has found someone who he wants to spend the rest of his life with and have a future with.

Our fans would like to know how much of your own personality went into the role of Abraham. After all we already saw you in the role of a hardened and somewhat badass soldier in “Band of Brothers”.

I think a very little part of everybody goes into every role they play. It sort of takes one little aspect and it magnifies it. I’m nowhere near as direct as Abraham. I wish I was! I think everybody could use a little Abraham. So, you know, I would say a little bit, just a little bit. (…)

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Is it about portraying extremes or stereotypes so people can better identify with the characters?

Yes and no, but I think that they are much more complicated and layered than that. I think that there’s an aspect that is amplified in me that is Abraham but there are people that walk around that have that aspect and it’s amplified all the time, so I think that’s how I hook into it. I don’t think they (the characters) are very stereotypical at all, at a first glance they are iconic.

How did you prepare for the role of Abraham?

Mostly it was with research and that’s how I prepare for all my roles. Research for this involved going back in reading the comics, pulling everything emotionally and socially from Abraham’s world and pulling that from the comic book. It’s such a wonderful layered tragic history that he has to draw from. Taking that and you know sort of infusing it as his backstory. Kirkman has been phenomenal. He has created this story and characters and the way they’re layered. That’s why I’d say they are not stereotypical, you know they are something you can identify with iconically on the surface. But once you start digging deeper they’re fully formed, well rounded people.

Special thanks to FOX and especially Lukas Doerfer!