Following the four Entertainment Weekly covers we showed you earlier today, the magazine has debuted a first look photo from Season 5 of The Walking Dead, featuring Seth Gilliam (Teen Wolf, The Wire) as Father Gabriel Stokes. In the comic books written by Robert Kirkman, Stokes is introduced in Issue #61, where he provides shelter for Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his group of survivors. While it remains to be seen if the AMC series will follow the comic book introduction to Gabriel Stokes, you can take a look at the first photo below, then read on for more information from Seth Gilliam.
Seth Gilliam admitted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he hadn't watched the show before being cast, and revealed that he only read the comic book issue where his character was introduced.
"I only read the comic book where Father Gabriel was introduced, which I think was episode 61 in the comics. I didn't read anything before that, and I haven't read anything after that. I discovered from reading about the show that often times characters' names and journeys are kind of crisscrossed and mismatched, so I thought if I did read too much I might be giving myself a lot of information that would be useless, or just outright wrong. So I figured, like with everything, I'd just take the script and try to fill him out the best I possibly can."
He also talked about binge watching the first three seasons on Netflix before arriving on the set, and catching up on the fourth season while on the job in Atlanta.
"I watched the first three seasons on Netflix in a week. And season four was not available on Netflix at that time. I watched season four on a weekend when I got down to Atlanta and started working. And I actually started working before I was able to watch the fourth season. The binge was intense, man. It was intense. I thought, well it's a zombie show. It's a show about zombies. And then I watched and I was like, this show is not about zombies at all, really. The show's about a whole lot more than just zombies, which I was really excited by."
The show also marks a reunion with Chad Coleman and Lawrence Gilliard Jr., who co-starred with Seth Gilliam on The Wire. Here's what the actor had to say about how showrunner Scott M. Gimple broke his promise about never hiring another actor from The Wire.
"We definitely did have a Baltimore bonding session when I got down there and saw Chad and Lawrence. I had dinner with Scott M. Gimple when I first got down there, and he said, 'You know, after we had cast Chad, I made a promise to myself that I wasnt going to cast anybody else from The Wire. But I love the show so much, and, you know, they just turned out to be the best people for the jobs. So I guess I've gone back on that.'"
The actor also spoke about how welcoming the cast was, particularly Andrew Lincoln.
"It was pretty intimidating because it's a well-oiled machine. But Andrew Lincoln was the first cast member that I met. And the guy has got a heart the size of the Grinch at the end of the Dr. Seuss story where it just grows and grows and grows. So he made me feel instantly welcome, and instantly a part of it. And everyone after that, I mean, they're the warmest people and they've done everything they possibly can to make me feel like I've been part of it from the very beginning. But yeah, I was pretty intimidated by it, by the immensity of the show, the popularity of it, and also the depth of it."
While fans won't get to see him in action as Father Gabriel Stokes until October, when Season 5 debuts on AMC, Seth Gilliam revealed he's already gotten a brief glimpse at the show's massive fan base.
"I have an Instagram account that had maybe 29 followers on it before I got cast on The Walking Dead, and I think I'm now at 3,859. [Update: now 4,071.] And it grows daily. You know, there are some times the fans camp out outside locations where we're shooting, waiting for people to come by. And they're rabid for it, but they're lovely people. So it's interesting because a lot of people that stop me on the street now and they talk about The Wire, and they all have the same question: 'How come they took that show off the air?' Because you guys weren't watching it when it was airing! [Laughs] And you come to it On Demand or on Netflix or whatever else. So this is the first time I've actually been on a show where it's popular while it's airing. And I was not prepared for that, and I'm not sure that I ever will be actually."
The actor has also had to deal with early photos that have been taken from the Atlanta set, before it was announced who he was playing.
"I did see them. And I spent the first week kind of creeping around from my trailer to the set, trying my best to cover myself. But then I noticed, some of those shots look like they were taken from, like, six blocks away with telescopic photo lenses. There's really nothing you can do about covering that. I mean, I could look down the block and see that there's nobody there and go, 'Okay, I'm gonna step out now.' And then see a picture of myself stepping out, and be like, 'Where did that come from?' There's got to be somebody planted on a roof somewhere five blocks away. I don't really get that, the whole spoiler thing. It's kind of confusing to me why you'd want to give things away."