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The Journal Gazette

  • McBride

  • James

Sunday, February 25, 2018 1:00 am

'Walking Dead' moves on without fan favorite

George Dickie | Zap2it

Ask just about any member of the cast of “The Walking Dead” how they fend off inquisitive fans seeking nuggets on upcoming storylines or cliffhangers, and chances are you will get a hearty laugh.

“You mean spoilers?” says Melissa McBride, who plays empowered woman and zombie apocalypse survivor Carol Peletier on the wildly popular AMC horror drama. “I have to be very vague, or sometimes I'll just throw out something completely (outlandish) – just being playful and 'Everybody dies this season.' You know, that sort of thing. Or 'Carol finds a yacht and she's living in a parked yacht somewhere and you'll see that in episode seven.' Not really. I just make stuff up and they know I'm making stuff up because I can't tell them.”

As the second half of Season 8 opens tonight, the all-out war between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) has wrought devastation on the communities of the Washington, D.C., area, with Alexandria destroyed, the Hilltoppers trapped and the Kingdom – or what's left of it – under the control of the Saviors. Carl (Chandler Riggs), bitten by a walker at the close of the season's first half, is apparently dead – or is he? – as are Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson), Shiva and a lot of Saviors.

Also gone from the scene is Morgan and the actor playing him, Lennie James, who will be headed west to join the cast of “Fear the Walking Dead” when it begins its fourth season on AMC in April. Calling in from the Austin, Texas, set of “Fear,” the English actor could neither disclose any details of Morgan's departure from “TWD” nor reveal what is ahead for the character in his new surroundings. The hope is that this fan favorite will bring viewers with him from the original show.

As for his most memorable fan encounter, James recalls one that left him as the one agape, when he ran into one of his musical heroes, R&B legend Smokey Robinson, in an airport lounge.

“As I walked toward him, he said to whoever he was with on the phone, 'Can you just hold on a minute? I have to say hello to this guy,'” James says. “And Smokey Robinson knew who I was, stood up, gave me a big hug and turned out to be a big fan of the show. And that completely knocked my socks off. ... I'm not sure of who was the bigger fan of who, but I think it was me being the bigger of fan of Smokey. But the fact that he had any idea who I was just blew me away.”