'Walking Dead' star Tyler James Williams on 'Spend' shocker
[SPOILER ALERT: Read on only of you have already watched Sunday’s “Spend” episode of The Walking Dead.]
Another one bites the dust. And this time, due to no fault of his own. Noah and Glenn found themselves trapped in a revolving door surrounded by zombies on Sunday’s “Spend” episode of The Walking Dead, with scaredy cat Nicholas stuck on the opposite side. But when Nicholas decided to save himself rather than stick to Glenn’s plan that would have freed all three of them, Noah was grabbed by the walkers and eaten, while a horrified and helpless Glenn watched through the glass.
It was a death that was as emotionally disturbing as it was physically disgusting. We chatted with actor Tyler James Williams to get all the behind-the-scenes scoop on Noah’s final days, and he revealed how he predicted his own demise, what his final day on set was like, and why he’s excited to get back to watching the show as a fan. (Also make sure to read our exclusive Q&A with Steven Yeun as well as our take on why this latest episode changes everything.)
EW: So, how did you get the grim news about Noah’s demise?
TYLER JAMES WILLIAMS: You know what’s interesting? I called it ahead of time before anyone told me. So I had read the script for [a few episodes back] and I noticed there was something that Rick did that I don’t think actually made it into the episode that was a tip-off, and I was like, “Oh, I’m going. I’m done” in that episode. I think it was where we first all get into the house in Alexandria and we’re sleeping. And in that script, Rick was supposed to lay a blanket over Carl and kind of tuck him in. But in that moment he also lays one over Noah. And I went, “Oh, that’s it! I’m done! I’m gone. That’s it.” So I had kind of spread the rumor around set, and I was talking to Norman about it quite a bit and he was like, “There’s no way. You haven’t been here long enough yet.” I said, “Watch, that’s it.” And then when [showrunner Scott] Gimple called me, I was like, “Yep, I had a feeling.” And then he calls everyone else up to let them know, and they were like “Yeah, he knew. He was already saying it.” [Scott] said that had nothing to do with the death but for some reason that was the tingling in my spine—it tipped me off.
Your Spidey sense was tingling.
That was it.
No one has had a great time in the zombie apocalypse, but Noah’s story seems especially tragic. He goes back to help Beth get out of the hospital, she dies. He returns to his home and is distraught to see his family gone, but Tyreese gives him a pep talk, and then Tyreese dies. And now he gets eaten in a revolving door due to no fault of his own, but a cowardly move by Nicholas. That’s a pretty raw deal, man.
It is. You know, what I loved about Noah is there was nothing that he actually did wrong. He was just getting terrible breaks in the world. And I think that’s something that we don’t see often in this world. There can be great people with great intentions who don’t really do anything wrong on their own, and stuff just isn’t working out. And that’s what I thought was kind of beautiful about him is that he got brought into this terrible situation like everybody else did. And as he met these people and they kind of became a family, the way they became family is when other family members of theirs died. In [episode] 513, there’s a whole bit where Maggie and Glenn come up to Noah and say, “You’re family.” But the only way that he became family to them was because Beth died—her actual family. So there’s this whole interesting dynamic with Noah being in the midst of terrible things happening, but still having that glimmer of sunshine that ultimately just doesn’t work out. But I thought that was a beautiful way to tell that story.
But we actually saw that glimmer of hope at the start of the episode where he tells Deanna’s husband that he wants to learn how to build things and that he plans on being around for the long haul. I guess that’s his mistake, that nobody should plan being around the long haul. That’s when my Spidey sense started tingling.
Oh, yeah, there’s a lot of smiling at the top of the episode and that’s when you know something bad is about to happen. Whenever people appear happy and hopeful, somebody’s about to eat it.
On one hand I’m sure as an actor it’s great to get a big, heroic death scene that you can hang your hat on. But on the other hand, even though this death is not that, it must be nice knowing that this is a death that’s going to move the story in a big way.
Yeah, we’ve spoken about this before. I was a fan of the show, so it was weird reading these scripts. Being the person who’s in Noah’s cheering corner the most having been him—I love him. I really want the best for him. But being a fan of the show, I was like, “You’ve got to go.” He’s an omen, essentially. He’s got to die. But one of the things that’s really interesting—having gone through the death and all that—is that it allows me to be a fan of the show again. And I know it’s gonna propel huge storylines. Which is so exciting being a fan again, like with Steven and Glenn—this is going to propel something huge for him. Because Glenn has never lost anybody that closely before. He and Noah were similar in that way. They were the two who kind of showed up into this group without a family. So for [Glenn] to lose him that closely, it’s just going to send him on this incredible journey I can’t wait to see.
Tell me about filming your death scene in the revolving door. What an intense experience that must have been. What was that like?
The interesting thing about this show as an actor is that to pull it off, we have to make it hyper real. So in those moments, for us, it was real. It’s difficult to kind of explain that—mainly because as an actor we have to pull references from things that happened in our lives and create scenarios to pull it off. In a situation where you’re stuck in a revolving door and somebody is going to be ripped apart, clearly there is nothing to pull from. So even in that whole episode me and Steven became incredibly tight, mainly because 1) Noah was functioning kind of as his right hand in a way. I was like one of his soldiers. And 2) For me, Noah had to be in a place where he was available and ready to die because some many people had died because of him. And shooting in those moments, we were breaking down a lot of times. We shot that one scene in the revolving door all day long. It was a 12, 14 hour day. And we were breaking down, literally. It was very, very emotional. But that did something for us personally as well professionally.
You weren’t on the show for that long in the grand scheme of things, but I know you got very close to the cast. Tell me about your last day on set.
It was a really, really sad day. That sequence was really just me, Steven, Alana, and Josh. But still, everyone came. Everyone had come to set to say goodbye and see the final scenes and all that. Of course, tears were shed. But the good thing about this is it’s never goodbye. As people have seen since if you check Instagram and all that, we’ve been in each other’s face ever since. We shot this in November and had to keep this secret, but we’ve just been around each other ever since. So that’s the good thing about it. When they talk about the TWD family, it’s real.
Also make sure to read our exclusive Q&A with Steven Yeun as well as our poll on where the Noah death ranks in terms of the show’s most brutal moments. And for more ‘Walking Dead’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.