'The Walking Dead' star Michael Cudlitz talks about the big mission to Washington, D.C.
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead.]
The man is persistent, give him that. Sgt. Abraham Ford wants to get to Washington, D.C. and is pretty insistent on recruiting Rick and Co. to join them. But, as we saw on Sunday’s “Strangers” episode of The Walking Dead, that persistence may have paid off as Judith kinda, sorta convinced daddy to sign on. However, there is now the whole Gareth situation to consider. After losing Terminus to zombies, Gareth and a few of his cannibalistic cohorts kidnapped Bob and feasted on his leg. How much is Abraham responsible for that since he and the others would not let Rick go back and finish the job? We asked the man who plays Abraham, Michael Cudlitz, about that, the mission to D.C. and more. (Also check out our interview with ‘Walking Dead’ star Steven Yeun.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Man, you are working these guys hard about this trip to Washington. Yada, yada, yada… Does this Abraham guy ever give it a rest, for crying out loud?!
MICHAEL CUDLITZ: What is more important than saving the world? Come up with a better answer and I’ll stop with the yada, yada, yada. [Imitating Glenn] “Oh, my girl, I love her.” Yeah, okay, we’re talking about SAVING THE WORLD!
Even that toast you made in the church — at first I was like, Awww…this is nice, he’s laying off the D.C. thing for a second, and then…
He brings it right around!
Yeah, that was a super passive aggressive move there.
[Laughs] Like I said, if you can show me and prove to me that there’s something else worth doing that’s more important than saving the world — please, take the floor! You make the next toast! Talk me out of it.
Okay, let’s play hypothetical Walking Dead here: How do you think Abraham reacts there if Rick does not agree to go to D.C?
We go anyway. The mission is that important. If he were to say no, maybe we spend more time trying to convince him because obviously Abraham does know that there’s strength in numbers and this is an extremely qualified team of members to be with. So if he was able to convince them all to come with him that would be fantastic and a coup on his part. But it is not necessary to the mission: The mission comes first.
If Abraham is so intent on getting these people to join his mission he must think pretty highly of them.
They’re a bunch of badasses. He’s seen them operate. And they’re also family-driven and family-oriented. From what he’s seen, everything that they do revolves around taking care of each other. He followed Glenn, who was searching for Maggie. Abraham was trying to talk him out of it and it turns out Glenn was right — she was still alive. They got back together. He gave them a moment to pause. He has had things happen in his past that we’ll come back to and explain why those things are so important to him. But he sees people who genuinely care about each other. They’re not just a group that happens to be thrown together.
I noticed in the premiere especially how protective both Abraham and Rosita are of Eugene, almost a bit defensive to a degree. They don’t want anyone questioning the importance of the mission and getting him to Washington. Why is that?
It’s none of your business. It’s a need to know basis and right now you don’t need to know. Every piece of information that we’ve given up has come back to haunt us, so now there’s more value in protecting everything about him. And I would argue there’s a large value in keeping it mysterious because people don’t know, and the more that they don’t know the more they are willing to buy into it — with just the idea. Because we’re not here to explain what is going on. Abraham doesn’t want Eugene to tell everyone everything. He won’t anyway, because the more that it gets told the more questions that are asked. Its like, “You know what? Shut up. Don’t talk to him. We’re on a mission. You’re either with us or get out of the way.”
So, let’s talk about the big climactic end to this second episode: Gareth is back and eating Bob’s leg. And I’ll tell you the same thing I told Steven Yeun which is: It’s your fault! You guys wouldn’t let Rick go back and finish the job! You’re to blame here, mister.
Yeah, we’re gonna see a lot of situations like that come up and choices that everyone makes — either individually or as a group — that come back to haunt them that really do shape the way that they move forward from this point on. Terminus was a huge, huge turning point with that. Nobody can be trusted and that is going to play a lot into how they deal with everything and everybody moving forward.
You see that with the way Rick deals with Father Gabriel when he meets him. Not the way that Rick would have dealt with a stranger in the past. He almost looks at him with disgust and he just almost assumes people are bad now.
Yeah, he’s a guy standing on a rock. He’s got nothing to offer, It’s almost more of a pain in the ass, like, now I gotta deal with you? Let’s just kill him. It’s almost easier at that point, as opposed to the potential danger that someone new coming in can represent. And what secrets does he have? What’s going on with him? Who else is really with him? Is anyone else really with him? It’s like, ugh, really, again?
The show is posing these questions and showing the results of good intentions leading to bad results to lead the viewer to almost understand why people would be doing these horrible things. And the flip side would be, well, what if this whole thing does get solved and can you then go back?
Well, I always equate it with — and I very rarely talk religion, and it’s not a religious conversation — but I bring up the fact that if Jesus would come back today, how would that entry be? How would you convince people? There’s that sort of thing where you look and you go, there’s no way. There’s no way people would believe anything. How do you wrap your head around something like, everything’s going to be okay now. And their world, when everything has been negative with them and every encounter with other people has been profoundly negative — who do you trust? Why do you trust? And then it brings up all these things that Robert Kirkman does so well. He deals with the processing of humanity and where is humanity lost and how can you regain it if it has been temporarily suspended?
What about Abraham and Rosita? We know they are a couple in the comic. We saw a bit of that in the truck last season. Is that something we’ll see more of going forward? I know there is more romance in general this season — and we saw that with Bob and Sasha in this last episode.
Yeah, I think everyone will be moving forward in their personal relations, because they are so isolated in so many ways. There’s only one way to go, which is since we’re not going out, we’re gonna go in.
I saved the most important question for last: Let’s talk mustache maintenance, Michael. What do you do to keep that thing so sweet looking?
Well, we actually address it in the show. It’s coming up soon. I think it’s funny because people say, “You’re in the zombie apocalypse, so how could you possibly maintain that mustache and that hair?” I actually find it very refreshing because it means people are paying attention. And that may sound like an obvious statement, but what I think the looks of Abraham and Michonne and Daryl with the crossbow — you can argue that the crossbow is not necessarily the most effective weapon to have — they are these iconic looking characters that have these iconic weapons that at some level remind you that it’s an alternate universe. This is what Abraham looks like. This is what Michonne looks like. This is what Tyreese looks like. They don’t change too much.
If we were actually living in a zombie apocalypse, and had lost all the amenities and were not necessarily taking care of ourselves, everybody would look like cavemen and smell like urine. That story is not necessarily interesting for the stories that we’re telling. It’s a different story, but it’s this progressive thing. Everybody would literally have hair down to the middle of their back with massive amounts of facial hair. But we’re telling people this highly dramatic, elevated story and anchoring it in reality, but peppering it with iconic figures that remind you, Oh, he’s like Superman except he doesn’t have super-powers. He’s a specific iconic character in the comic book. And there are other specific comic book characters that are coming that have other specific looks.