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Walking Dead: Tom Payne on whether Jesus has secret plans

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Where the hell is Jesus? That has been the question on the minds of a lot of Walking Dead fans. The favorite from the comic book was introduced in dramatic (and funny) fashion in episode 10 last season, but we then did not see a whole lot from the character for the rest of season 6. And now, due to the structure of the current season 7, devoting different episodes to different communities, we have only seen the bearded ninja once, in the Hilltop installment.

However, that could all be about to change. When last spotted, Jesus was secretly on his way to scope out the Negan’s compound, and some of these disparate communities may start to connect. “He’s on his way to the Sanctuary,” the man who plays Jesus, Tom Payne, told us when he stopped by Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) the other day. “There was a sneak preview on Talking Dead the other night where you see him jumping out of the back of the truck, so I guess you can figure out that him and Carl don’t arrive at the same time at the Sanctuary.”

Payne points to that last scene in the back of the truck as a pivotal one between the two characters. “I loved the end of that episode and I love that they kept it in that Jesus is looking at Carl with the attitude of like, Oh, okay. Cool. What’s going to happen now?” says Payne. “He’s not judgmental. He’s not in any way, oh, you shouldn’t be here. He’s just, cool. I respect you and this is your decision and let’s go see what happens. So that will play out in the coming weeks, and the different ways that Jesus and Carl approach the Sanctuary is going to play out.”

Payne also brings up a very interesting point. While we know that Jesus has connected the Hilltop to Alexandria (with pretty disastrous results so far), is it possible that he may have connections to some of these other communities we’ve been meeting as well? “We’ve got the new community that was introduced last week,” says Payne of Oceanside. “And it will be interesting to see how everything ends up — like, why did that storyline play out? There are lots of threads which happen. And the Kingdom is there, and has Jesus been to the Kingdom before? Maybe he has. Maybe he has relationships there. But who knows?”

The way Payne sees it, Jesus could have had bigger plans for longer than we realize. “Actually, I find it interesting myself,” he says. “Like, how many communities has Jesus been to? How many are out there and how many does he know about and how much of a plan has he been putting together in his head? Because I think when he met Rick’s group, he was definitely thinking, well, things are going to have to change at the Hilltop at some point and Gregory is the leader for now but it’s kind of an imperfect situation and maybe something can change. And in [episode 5] you could see that he got the strength through Maggie and Sasha being there and he was like, okay, yeah, this is the time. ‘Cause also, things are getting much more serious. And so Sasha sent him to the Sanctuary to check it out and I think ideas are going through his head about other steps they could take to move forward.”

To hear the entire interview with Payne about playing Jesus and life on The Walking Dead set— along with our chats with The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes, and Survivor contestant Zeke Smith — click on the EW Morning Live podcast below. Or subscribe for free and take it on the go with you right here. And for more EW Morning Live podcast updates, follow @EWMLPodcast.

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