Just when you thought you'd seen it all on The Walking Dead, they go and do an episode that not only emotionally guts you, but makes it so you will NEVER LOOK AT A SOUP CAN THE SAME WAY AGAIN.
Spoilers Ahoy for anyone who hasn't yet seen tonight's installment, but we got the backstory for Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), which wasn't pretty: He decimated some "bad guys"with a soup can and his wife and small children were so terrified they fleed him, only to be found later on devoured by walkers. He put a gun in his mouth and was ready to pull the trigger, but found new purpose in meeting Eugene, who said he knew a cure that would end the Zombie Apocalypse.
Only problem: Eugene was a liar, liar pants on fire. And Abraham nearly killed him.
Michael Cudlitz's performance in this episode was stunning and effortlessly multi-layered (all the awards, please!). Here he talks about what comes next…
Congratulations. I'm throwing away all my soup cans.
Ha! I saw on Twitter that they think I opened a Can of Whoop Ass, which is so funny and that they think I have gone completely ABE S--T. Which is my favorite thing I have seen in a long time in social media. #ABES--T
Well, the episode was gut-wrenching. Poor Abraham is in a very bad place. What did you think when you got the script?
Hellll Yessss! That was my first thought. No, it was awesome. I knew it was coming but I didn't know how specific it would be. When I got the role I asked [executive producer] Scott Gimple, ‘Is there any benefit for me to read the comics, are we going to be drawing anything specifically from the comics, or is it better for me to not read them?' And he said, ‘No absolutely read the comics. The emotional thrust and the emotional weight is going to be exactly the same. Whether or not this specific story is going to be exactly the same remains to be seen.' And he hit it pretty darn well on the head. There's a couple more graphic things that happen in the comics, that I don't think we needed to see on the show. But I was excited and could not be more happy with the script. I saw it two days ago and I don't think I could be happier with the end result.
I love hearing that because this is kind of a derail, but when you were cast, there was a rumor that the producers really wanted you but you were hesitant to take on the role. I think maybe because your name was out there but it took a while for you to sign on. Can you speak to that?
No, I can't. Because I wasn't hesitant! There's always a little bit of truth in there somewhere, though, so let's find it. I wanted to do the show and there was an initial discussion that they weren't sure if I, an actor coming off of Southland if I was um…How do I say this without sounding like an ass, because I am not an ass! They didn't want the things that I had done prior to affect the show in any way in the sense that I would take away from it, in the sense that I might be too recognizable because of my previous work. And there was concern on AMC's part that it might distract from the show. But ultimately Scott really wanted me and some of the AMC execs really wanted me and so they figured it out. I was thrilled to even be considered once I knew what it was. At first I didn't know what the role was because that's how they do things, but when I found out what it was I said, OK we've got to make this happen.
Well, I'm glad it did. After tonight's emotional bomb, what is Abraham's mindset at this point? Because we know he lost his family, he was not only suicidal but was ready to pull the trigger and has now lost his reason for living all over again. Can he cope?
That's what we're gonna see, what does he have left to live for? How have his circumstances changed since the end of the flashback to now? Is there anyone in his life, is life worth living? But we've seen him meet people who are passionate about their dreams and find life worth living. We've seen him experience love again. We've seen him be proven wrong specifically by Glenn looking for Maggie. He's had a lot of growth in that time. So how does that affect him now that there's basically the same loss again but the circumstances are different? Eugene talks about all the people who have died along the way, and Abraham is processing that, all the people he has killed to keep Eugene alive. So there's a lot for him to process. And had he not been stopped, he would have killed Eugene.
Obviously the fans will be hating on Eugene. And ya know, for good reason. Is there any chance for redemption for him?
There's always a chance for redemption for everybody. Human nature is to forgive. You can see, he kind of explains what it is. And that's one of the good things about the way Scott writes is you don't have to like everybody at every time. And that's life. You walk around and sometimes people who are close to you really piss you off. You know? And it's good storytelling. Conflict is good storytelling. Can you imagine the show without conflict? Hey, everybody we're going to DC! And the next week it ends because everybody's cured! You're the best, let's just clean up and go home! High five! Group hug! That would just suck. That's a road map for sh--ty TV.
We saw hints of Rick and Abraham getting closer, as they did in the books. Will that happen?
That may take some time but I would hope so. I would love to see that dynamic of two strong men who have different visions at times but ultimately hoping for the same result in the sense of making things work. But right now if Abraham is ever going to get to that point, he has a tremendous amount of healing to do and has to get right with purpose in life. He is completely purposeless.
Spoiler Alert, but Abraham is one of the characters who dies in the books. And we don't know if the producers will go that route with the show, but do you ever feel like you're living on borrowed time?
When I started the show, I was like, ‘I'm going to die. Everybody dies.' And I just put that in my mind. In the book, he dies. And they're not following it, so they could speed things up or they could slow things down, but you know. Andrea is dead on the show and not dead in the comics. Tyrese is no longer around by the time Abraham comes around but in our world it is. So there are a lot of things that are different. The DNA is taken from the comics, but the actual storylines and what trajectory all these characters are on is not. But I try to keep it in the back of my mind, because you never know, and I don't want to pretend that I'm going to be around for a long time because I'm having so much fun that it would be emotionally…crappy. It's gonna suck when I get the news but the news is coming and that's gonna hopefully soften the blow.
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
I miss Southland. Do you keep in touch with Ben [McKenzie]? And now happy are you that you both landed on such strong shows?
Ecstatic. I just saw Ben at the Rangers game. We went to the Rangers opening night, the same weekend as Comic Con in NY and it was the night before he got the news of the pickup of the back half and I could not be more happy for him. He deserves it, he just plain out deserves it. Really good guy, really talented and I'll work with him again. Our paths will cross. There will be something in the future. Gotham needs to have me on as some crazy arch villain we just see here or there and then 5 or 7 years from now I come in and do half a season and big his big nemesis. I would love that.