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    Viva la Merle kristenicole's Avatar

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    Under the Radar - Walking Dead Week: Michael Cudlitz on Playing Abraham

    Formerly the star of acclaimed AMC series Southland, where he spent five seasons as Officer John Cooper, Cudlitz is a TV veteran and a familiar face for anyone who has watched Band of Brothers, Lost, or any number of highly-rated shows from the past 25 years. But if he was disappointed by having to share the spotlight with The Walking Dead's ensemble cast, it hasn't shown in his bravura performance as Sgt. Abraham Ford, the mission-minded ex-military man. One of the only characters who seems to be enjoying the zombie apocalypse, smashing in walker skulls like a child popping balloons, he's single-minded in his mission to get to Dr. Eugene Porter to Washington, D.C. so they go down in history as the men who saved the world. Like his character, Cudlitz is concise in conversation, dropping the occasional colorful one-liner into his speech when he gets rolling on a topic. But where Abraham seems eager to explain his assignment to whoever will listen, Cudlitz speaks like a man who keeps most of his thoughts to himself. Fortunately, he agreed to share some of his thoughts with us, opening up about his long career, his feelings toward his character, and the art of saying nothing in interviews.


    Had you been a fan of the show before you joined the cast?


    Yeah. I wasn't caught up, and I wasn't the biggest fan, but I had read the pilot before it came out and thought it was fantastic. I had high hopes for the show, and they were realized. What drew me to it as a fan was that it wasn't ultimately about zombies but about how these people make their way through this world to rebuild their lives and recreate society. I was shooting Southland at the time [The Walking Dead] was airing, and we were just going into production when The Walking Dead was starting to air. I wasn't able to watch it when it aired, but before I started I was all caught up. I read the comics, and I could see definite similarities with the source material and the characters and what they'd become. Obviously, they have an opportunity to flush out the characters and make them different than they'd been in the graphic novel, and they've done a great job with it. Some liberties are taken and some things are changed, and Robert [Kirkman] has a chance to say, "What would happen if this character hadn't died? What would happen if these two characters were in this world together?" That's what happens with Abraham and Tyreese. They weren't together in the comic like they are in our version. Our characters have a past that is still in the comics, which is great, because you still have a sense of the broad strokes of where we're going, but you're not locked into anything specifically because things do change a lot.


    Did knowing that characters on this show die regularly change the way you think about this show, knowing your time could be limited?

    When shows are picked up, they are picked up by the network, and then months later the actors are either picked up or not picked up for the show. A show getting picked up doesn't guarantee you a place on it. It's highly likely you will, unless you shit in somebody's cornflakes or you're difficult or completely unaware about how much of an ass you are—which happens—but you expect it and hope that you'll get invited back if the show gets picked up. Going into this show, you know exactly what it is, so I don't know if you approach it that way. I do know I could be killed at any moment, so it changes the way you lease your apartment. Maybe the way you make some long-term life plans, if you're going to be out of town. There is a little bit of unknown to it, but it's a known unknown. It's how you are hired, so for anyone to be surprised when your time comes, they're kidding themselves. That's not to say I won't be sad when the time comes, because I'm having a great time. But that's the job we're doing here, so hopefully I'll be around for a very long time. I know it's not up to me.



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    Governor reckon's Avatar
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    Another informative, funny, straight-shooting interview. And great guns. Looking forward to more Abe in season 5.

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