He has been the gentle giant of The Walking Dead, but not so gentle that he can’t take on an army of zombies if need be. However, there is no doubt that Tyreese has struggled with the new rules and level of violence often necessary in the post-apocalyptic landscape. And according to actor Chad Coleman, that struggle will continue when the show returns on Oct. 12. We chatted with Coleman about what’s coming up for Tyreese, getting back together with the cast, the mini The Wire reunion happening, and the new urban feel of season 5.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So let’s talk some Tyreese. I’m curious how he’s going to be dealing now with all the stuff that happened to him last season — his girlfriend being killed, Carol confessing to it, having to watch Carol put Lizzie down. And, on top of all that, he’s a sensitive soul. So how’s he dealing with the violence of this world and some of it by the members of his own group?
CHAD COLEMAN: Well, you know, we pick up right where we left off, so there’s no jump in time. You catch him right in the middle of it, in the tug-of-war of emotions, just wrestling with it, the push and pull. On one level feeling a connection with Carol for sure with all that we witnessed together, and just the pull of the pain of losing someone who meant so much to me. So he’s still struggling. He’s still wrestling. And then, on top of that, they’re trying to make their way to Terminus, so it’s just a push-and-pull and still trying to hold that weird little community, trying to hold it together to get to a larger safer place. And hopefully reconnect with the rest of the group.
We do know that at some point you are going to reconnect and Tyreese is going to hear about this mission to Washington that Eugene and Abraham are on try to cure the zombie plague. How does Tyreese feel about that mission? Is he on board with that?
In the back of his mind at all times is the belief that things are going to get better, we’re going to get back to normal. So I would imagine hearing that, once again, everything has a push and pull to it. I’m sure he will want to believe in it. If there’s any real possibility to restore life to the way it was, I’m sure he’s down for it. But at the same time, incredibly cautious and fearful of another false hope. This world is so unforgiving that it’s hard to try to hold on to anything. He was holding on to Lizzie and Mika and Carol, and look what happened. I think, though, that without hope you die, so he would cling onto that and hope for that brighter day.
Yeah, he’s one of those guys who really misses the way things used to be and really sort of struggles to adapt emotionally…
He just doesn’t know who he would become. If we make it back, and you do all this horrendous stuff, then who are you when we get back to “normal?” So I think that’s why he fights so hard, because doing those things has to change you. So I think he’s just really afraid of who he will become if he didn’t hold on to his core values and the way he believes a human being should go about their lives, especially in relationship to the violence.
It’s interesting, because Tyreese to this point hasn’t met some of these new people before that he’s going to be joining up with: Abraham, Eugene, Rosita, Tara. He doesn’t know these guys. So what’s his reaction when he meets new people? Does he try to think the best of people? Or is he cautious? How’s he going to react when he meets some of these new folks?
He tends to take his cue from Rick and Michonne and Glenn and Maggie. If they’re going for it, then he’s kind of going there with the crew but keeping a real serious eye out for how this person is trying to operate, you know? So I think he would proceed with caution with the hope that it’s going to be good, and to trust that they have read this person the right way, but at the same time, staying really cautious and aware.
What’s it like, Chad, to welcome yet another Wire cast member to the show with Seth Gilliam?
[Laughs] Yeah, that’s a pretty good picking field over there, huh?. It’s awesome because I didn’t get to work with Seth that much, either. You know, I didn’t work with Lawrence at all. Seth is an incredibly talented man, and he’s cool, and it’s great to see him and the phenomenal work he’s doing. It’s awesome.
We’re going to be seeing most of the group together for a good chunk coming up. Tell me about getting the gang back together after you were off in these smaller groups the back half of last year. How’s the vibe a little different when you have the big group story as opposed to the smaller ones?
Yeah, we all get really excited and amped about it, you know, because we all want to work together. We all like being around each other. So, it’s a lot of fun. It’s back to school. [Laughs] You know, the gang’s all back together. It’s been a long summer, and we’re coming back to wreak havoc. We love it. We miss each other when we go off in that kind of splinter storytelling. We love it. It’s a lot of fun.
You guys are shooting out on location a lot more this season. What’s it like having that experience and filming more in urban environments that we haven’t seen since season 1?
It’s always visually compelling, and it’s great for those of us who weren’t on that journey at that point, to experience that. It’s really cool, it’s just, logistically, it can be a little bit of a nightmare. You know, you deal with the crowds a little bit more, because everybody’s obviously curious about what we’re doing. But it’s a different experience. It’s cool for me. I think everybody is kind of like PHEW, just happy to get out of the woods for a second. [Laughs]
It’s a look the show hasn’t had for a long time.
Definitely. And a nice edge, too. I mean, the show was always edgy. But just when you add that urban element, it raises the stakes even more.
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