“The Walking Dead Is Like Theater” An Interview With Chad L. ColemanMarch 23, 2015
[Spoiler alert!] If you were one of the many fans that almost shed a tear during Tyreese’s suffering and death, you aren’t alone. It was hard to say goodbye to a man that has spent so much time both in the Walking Dead show and comic as Rick’s right hand man, and he was one badass with that hammer. Now that he’s gone though, actor Chad Coleman has begun the convention circuit as many past and present Walking Dead cast members do to meet adoring fans of the show. I had the chance to sit down with Coleman (also known for his role on The Wire) while he was in town for Toronto Comic Con, talking about many things including past projects, the world of the Walking Dead, upcoming projects and acting in general.
So how did you get into acting? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Well you know I always say I didn’t get into acting, acting got into me. I can’t explain it, it’s a gift, something inside of me is just drawn to it, I can’t really explain that part of it. I guess part of it is the love of language; I love to read and then I started to read out loud and you know, if you read out loud and people like it, it certainly lends itself to “oh, you should be an actor”, but I never really pursued it in that way. Inevitably, my very dear friend Edward Brotis, he was the thespian in our class, and he said “Chad, you’ve got to do it” and he was the reason I got into it. They always had the after school drama program and I would go and sit and just watch them; tell them how they should say their lines so I was kind of in already. Eventually that moment came, someone dropped out of a play and my friend went and told the director I wanted to do it and I was all in from there.
On The Walking Dead, when people die it is usually very brutal and horrific. However, your character Tyreese had a very peaceful, almost dreamlike death. What are your thoughts on that and how did you react when you read the script describing your death?
Honestly, I felt a huge adrenaline rush and was like “come on, let’s shoot this tomorrow.” I was very proud of Scott Gimple and incredibly proud of Greg Nicotero. He directed it beautifully; there was not one missed moment, it was right on point and I felt like I was at peace, I was happy. I thought “yeah, this is exactly the way he should go out,” I was really very simpatico on that, and I was very happy to be part of another show that’s going to down in history.
You’ve been a part of two TV shows, The Wire and The Walking Dead, and both of these shows have some brutal and difficult scenes in them, both physically and mentally. As an actor, was there any time where you had a scene that was very tough to do?
No, not really. I mean that’s why they call on me because they know that’s what I do. I like taking on the tough stuff like human behavior scenarios; they’re going to call me and I always want to rise to the occasion. That truth of human behavior is tantamount and we need to experience that level of truth, I think it helps us all. It also helps to be working with some incredibly gifted actors who bring out the best in you and then some more, you know? Somebody asked me just yesterday, ‘was it hard to focus on those scenes in The Walking Dead when you had the fake baby with you’, carrying her in my arms or on my back, and I said no for two reasons. One, the scenes are always pretty tense to begin with so it’s not hard to get into the moment and two, a lot of those scenes were with Melissa McBride, and man when they say action, she brings it. That woman is intense and just an incredible actress so yeah, it wasn’t too hard to forget about the fake baby because I had to bring it myself to match her intensity.
You mentioned your latest project The Expanse, can you tell me a little bit about that?
It’s based on these New York Times bestselling novels, Leviathan Wakes. We have a tremendous international cast, an amazing group of actors, the writing staff is incredible, and having been on The Wire and The Walking Dead, it feels like we have something here, it feels like something special is going to happen, but we’ll see. We don’t have that spaceship drama and we always need that; it’s just another way of examining human behavior, the visuals are amazing and the acting is incredible. We wanted to have it out in July but it’s looking more like December now. They want to roll it out the right way, they want to give it that push to see if it can make it.
As an actor I’m sure you always want to challenge yourself. Is there a role or part out there that you really want to go after?
I would love to play Iago from Othello on screen, that would be incredible. It’s an amazing, amazing role, and a very complicated dude; I’d like to take that on. Actually I can say that really, that is one of many great things about The Walking Dead is the material really rivals the theater. Some people might say ‘I don’t know about that’ but no, the work I was doing was almost like being on stage. The stakes were very high and fulfilling and the emotional commitment with the character is just as strong as being in the theater, it’s that heavy.
[Images via AMC]