Khary Payton Talks The Walking Dead Season Ten

Khary Payton Talks The Walking Dead Season Ten

Uneasy Lies The Crown

The Walking Dead returned for its tenth season a couple of weeks ago and here’s Khary Payton who plays Ezekiel talking about the new series to Warning: spoilers ahead

Q: Having lost his son, his Kingdom and his wife, where is King Ezekiel in this half of the season?

A: He’s in a pretty sh—tty position, I would say. You lose everything you can possibly lose when the apocalypse takes everything away. He tries to stay positive, but any person would crack after a while and I think he’s found himself at his breaking point when Michonne found him. He’s in a pretty low spot. He’s trying to keep his head up, but it definitely sucks to be Ezekiel right now.

Q: Speaking of which… what did you make of the kiss that he shared with Michonne?

A: He’s definitely reaching out for someone… a connection of some kind, on a very intimate level. Fortunately, he found someone who is a good enough of a friend to walk him through something like that. Someone else other than Michonne may have made that very awkward, but being someone who’s lost quite a bit herself, I think she could see someone in pain and was able to navigate him through it.

Q: A lot of the weaponry and defenses have changed on the show. Can you talk about playing with some of these elements as you geared up for the big battle with the Whisperers?

A: It’s funny because I started using a sledgehammer in the middle of the battle. One of our Kingdommers had been walking around with a sledgehammer on his back and I was like, “That’s going to be fun to swing!” and then when we shot the scene, they gave him a big shield to push the Whisperers back. So, I was like, “Well if you’re not going to swing that, I’m going to!” In the middle of the battle, I stick my sword into the walker’s body and it gets pulled out of my hand and I look around and see that sledgehammer and start whacking. We just went with it. [Laughs] This is a battle and crazy things happen. I love my sword, but I wanted to swing that big ass sledgehammer until someone told me to stop! And no one told me to stop. It was so fun.

Q: Ezekiel has come face to face with the fact that he suspects he has cancer. What has it been like for him navigating that?

A: What I was fascinated by was the idea that it’s not so black or white – how you respond to this information. In one sense, he becomes more sullen and more stone-faced and grim in his outlook. On the other hand, he’s desperate to tell someone – especially Carol – but she’s the one person he’s most conflicted about telling. He wants that and needs that, but also respects the fact that she walked away. Maybe she doesn’t want the burden of that information. There’s a lot going on there and a lot to unpack.

Q: What did you make of his reconnection with Carol and the moment they share? Does it further shift his outlook on where he is right now?

A: I think it was really good for him. For him to laugh a little bit at the absurdity of the situation. I mean, here he is in the middle of a zombie apocalypse where you can die at any minute and he’s got cancer on top of it. It’s like, “who gives a sh—t?” You can get bit on the ankle and be dead tomorrow. He’s also about to face an army of walkers and Whisperers. What demise would you rather have? It’s a choose your own adventure. Is one worse than the other? It’s hard to say. With it being revealed to Carol, I think she handled it in a way that is really unexpected. It’s like, “We’re here together. We can die tomorrow, so who cares?” Enjoy the moment. That’s something we all need to remember at the end of the day. That’s The Walking Dead in a nutshell: You’ve got to enjoy the moment and keep swinging that sledgehammer until they say stop! [Laughs]

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