[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only if you have already watched Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead.]
Beth woke up in a hospital Sunday night on The Walking Dead and found herself surrounded by people hitting in her in the face, sexually assaulting her with lollipops, and tricking her into killing patients. But there was one person who got her back. Fellow orderly Noah took the blame (and the beating that came with it) for that dead patient, and the two hatched an escape plan together. However, only Noah made it. We spoke to former Everybody Hates Chris and Go On star Tyler James Williams about being the latest addition to the Walking Dead universe and whether he kind of ditched Beth there at the end of their big hospital escape. [Also check out our interviews with Emily Kinney (who plays Beth) and Christine Woods (Dawn).]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So first things first, Tyler. How did you land this role?
TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS: I had always loved the show and had been watching it since season 1. When the call came in that they wanted me to put something on tape, I really jumped at it. So I put something on tape and then two months later, they said “Be ready to fly out to Atlanta next week.”
I know they’re very coy and cagey when they are casting. So how much did they tell you about the character when you first read for him? And then how much more did they tell you when you landed the job?
When I first read for him, it was a little bit of a mislead. The sides suggested that he was a bad guy, so I kind of read it in that way. And of course, there was some scene that had nothing to do with the show. And then when I actually got the real script, the character scenes were a lot different as far as what his intentions were. He wasn’t a terrible person. Then when I got there they gave me an arc for the first three episodes and then just let me roll with it.
And you mentioned you were pretty familiar with the show when you got the part.
Yeah, I loved the show. I was kind of a zombie apocalypse guy. I loved Dawn of the Dead and any kind of situation where the dead is coming back and trying to rip your flesh apart.
Once people figured out you were going to be on the show, everyone had their theory on what you would be doing and whom you would be playing. What was your favorite theory?
My favorite one was I was Michonne’s long lost son. That actually was pretty good. I was like, okay, I can see why somebody would actually say that, although I don’t know if we already established that she has a son. There was also speculation that I was Heath and some other characters from the comics. There’s a lot to speculate about. They were all solid. Nothing was too outrageous.
So you join the show, but then your first episode is with only Emily Kinney and other newbies. I assume we’ll be seeing you eventually with other cast members but was it nice to sort of ease in this way?
It was. I was really intimidated going into it, going, “Is my first scene going to be with Andy and Norman? And am I going to be ready for that?” So it was cool that we shot this almost like a pilot and Beth was the only character I was familiar with and everybody else was just new. So that was a good way to ease my way into it.
So give me your perspective on Noah. He’s a guy that appears safe from walkers in that hospital, but that positive I guess is outweighed by the negative of being trapped by these cops gone bad.
I think Noah is to his core a survivor. He’s at the hospital now because it’s his best move, but he has plans to get out. He’s one that at the end of the day, he will do what’s necessary, even if it means sacrificing himself and his body, for the people he cares about — like creating a unique bond with Beth, to the point that he will take a beating for her.
Why does he take the blame for killing that patient? Why do that for this person, Beth, that he hardly knows?
I think because he doesn’t believe that she can take it at this time. You have a girl who’s coming into this situation, doesn’t know all of the rules, doesn’t know who these people are and what they’re capable of. And he knows that he can take the beating and then get back in Dawn’s good graces at some point. She may not be able to. At the end of the day, he’s down to sacrifice that for this girl that seems pretty innocent.
He tells Beth that he wants to get out. Is his main desire to get out due to the dangerous situation and lack of freedom he has? Is it to find his family? Or is it a combo of the two?
Noah wants to get home. He originally left to find his uncle, but that’s not happening. And he’s lost his dad. He needs to get back home and update his family. I think he just wants to just survive this thing with people that he knows: his people. So, ultimately, he needs to get back home, and it’s about finding the right time to do so.
I was watching that escape scene and it kind of looks like you ditched Beth there a little bit at the end, Tyler. Even with that limp you just bolted right past her and those zombies. What’s up with that?
[Laughs] I actually had the same thought when I read the script. I was like, uh-oh…he turned. Now that they have a better understanding of each other, Beth knows that if he doesn’t go first, he’s not going to make it. With his limp and having had the fall, and it’s aggravated and all of that, so if he just goes, then we’ll be fine and we’ll make it, and now here come the cops. And that’s just the way it played out and it’s really sad that that’s the way it happened. But Noah has some loyalties to him and I don’t know if this will be the last time they see each other.
And she seems happy he got out. I spoke with Emily Kinney about it and she talked about how Beth is happy enough with that result as we see that smile on her face as she sees Noah getting away.
I think at this point in time, any victory in this world is a good thing. If one person gets away, if one person leaves, it’s a good thing. And that’s what’s driving these people are these little victories here and there that continue their hope.
Now seeing what happened at the end of this episode with you escaping and Carol — who was with Daryl — ending up at the hospital, I’m guessing that’s you in the woods with Daryl at the church. I know you can’t tell me one way or another, but I’m thinking Tyler James Williams is about to show up at that church.
Ummmmm…you know, everybody has their speculation. And I can neither confirm nor deny that you’re right. So if that helps you at all — I’m not saying no, but I’m definitely also not saying yes.
Also make sure to check out our interviews with Emily Kinney (who plays Beth) and Christine Woods (Dawn), as well as Kyle Ryan’s episode recap. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
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