The Walking Dead's Chandler Riggs Talks Carl's Big Moment and How It Almost Happened Very Differently

Chandler Riggs opens up about his character's big moment in the AMC hit's midseason premiere

By Billy Nilles Feb 15, 2016 3:00 PMTags
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Warning: The following contains major spoilers about last night's midseason premiere of The Walking Dead. Proceed with caution.

Have you recovered from the sight of poor Carl Grimes getting his eye shot out? Because we're not sure we have.

In our quest to find some sense of normalcy after watching Rick's big plan to escape Alexandria's walker infestation by hiding in plain sight fall apart in the worst way possible (To recap: Two people eaten, one kid sliced in half by a sword, and his son shot in the head) on The Walking Dead, E! News got Carl himself, Chandler Riggs, on the phone to talk about how the iconic moment made its way from the comic books to the AMC hit.

"Almost a year ago now, I was out in L.A. for episode 15 of last season for Talking Dead and [showrunner] Scott Gimple was out there and wanted to sit down and [he] kind of briefed me on the season," Riggs tells us. "And when he told me I was going to have my eye shot out, I was ecstatic. I was so excited because it's been something I've been looking forward to ever since the issue came out back in season two. It's definitely been something I've been looking forward to."

For fans of the comic books who'd been anticipating this moment, Riggs admits that his hair growth over the last few years—a move some saw as foreshadowing for last night's big twist—wasn't part of some master plan. "I actually had my hair long when I was nine and they made me cut it when I got the part, and I was really mad because I enjoyed my long hair," he says. "It was kind of coincidental. Good thing that I do like having long hair because otherwise it really wouldn't have worked out so well."

As for that fateful moment, which does play out a bit differently from the comics, Riggs says that it was originally conceived of in an entirely different way. "Originally, the way we shot it and the way it was scripted was that Carl took the bullet for Rick," he reveals. "Ron was aiming at Rick and Carl jumped in front of the gun as he was getting up to take the bullet so it didn't kill Rick."

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Riggs says the horrific accident will have a profound effect on his character. "He definitely sees the world a lot differently, both physically and emotionally, because the things he experienced that night are really traumatic in the first place," the actors admits. "He saw a kid around his age get eaten and devoured alive, and then watched his mom be devoured, and then one of his friends gets a sword through his chest and shoots his eye out, on accident, obviously. Not the best experience for him…Losing the eye kind of hardens him a lot in a ways."

Naturally, Carl's personal tragedy isn't the only major concern staking claim on the second half of this season. Not when Negan (Jeffery Dean Morgan) is coming. "Negan's pretty messed up. He's not cool in the comics because he's such an annoyance because he just takes half of everything from you and there's nothing you can do about it because he doesn't have a problem with killing all of you. He's just an annoyance in the comics," Riggs says. "I think it's going to be the same way in the show because there's nothing that can stand up against him because he has an army of Saviors on his side that will easily take down any single thing they want to."

We can hardly wait to see where the show goes from here—though just the thought of it has us queasy already. It wouldn't be The Walking Dead if it felt any differently, though, would it?

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.

Watch: How Have "The Walking Dead" Stars Changed?