Five years ago, sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) awoke from a coma in a hospital. What should have been a cause of celebration instead became the flash point for five years of horror, personal sacrifice and one of the most popular television shows ever – AMC’s “The Walking Dead”.
On August 25, Anchor Bay Entertainment will release “The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season”, which documents the continuing struggle of a group of survivors in a post zombie apocalyptic world.
In addition to all sixteen episodes of Season Five, the 5-disc set also includes bonus features like audio commentary, deleted scenes and a video journey of deceased characters.
Fans of the series remember actor Chad Coleman’s portrayal of the tough but gentle Tyreese, who met an unfortunate demise in Season Five. I recently spoke with Coleman about his Walking Dead experience, his upcoming projects and more in this exclusive interview.
James Wood: What did you think after you read that final script and saw Tyreese’s exit from the series?
Chad Coleman: I remember thinking, “Wow! This is a bullseye!” I really couldn’t have dreamed it up any better. It was like, “Ok, Scott Gimple (Walking Dead Executive Producer), what are you doing rummaging around inside my head?” [laughs]. It was just the way I wanted to see it go. A poetic end with an incredible range of emotion and nothing left unturned. Tyreese fought hard for his life and was aided by his teammates. The gentleness of Tyreese and the way he was finally able to expire — Bravo! It was an homage to the man. Even if you’ve never watched the show before and didn’t know the whole backstory, you would know who Tyresse was by the time it was over and would probably be able to mourn for him too.
JW: When main characters of the series die there’s usually a backlash among fans as to how something like that could have happened. Do you think there was still more to explore with Tyreese?
CC: I was trying to rummage through my mind and come up with an argument to stay but the reality was there was nothing there. I think the most pivotal part for me was when we decided on how we would go in to rescue Beth and Carol. There’s a point where Tyreese says, “You shouldn’t do it that way.” and Daryl agrees with him. At that point, I knew that my days were numbered. There was nothing more for Tyreese to do. He had fulfilled his mission.
JW: Let’s suppose that Karen [Tyreese’s love interest] hadn’t been killed by Carol earlier in the series and had actually lived. Given that Karen was someone who was willing to kill others (ex. following the Governor into ambushing the prison), do you think her influence on Tyreese would have led him to develop a different code of ethics?
CC: That’s a great question. I think it would have been nice to have seen their relationship play out on that kind of conflict. Here were two people who really loved each other but, ideology speaking, weren’t on the same page. It would have been interesting to see who could have influenced who and shifted their thought process.
JW: A lot of dead characters on the show sometimes come back in different situations. How do you think Tyreese would be used in one of these scenarios?
CC: I think because you didn’t get a chance to see him with his sister (Sasha), it would be in a flashback from an earlier time. Life lessons that her brother and father tried to teach her. Even though everything was said in terms of what our father had taught us, maybe there’s something else there that was a game changer as to why she’s struggling so much now.
JW: In your opinion, what makes The Walking Dead such a great series?
CC: When you look at it, it has an appeal for everyone. It speaks to that kid in us with things like Halloween and the ghost under the bed. There’s always something to be scared of. It has that kind of quality to it. We usually only get that feeling with movies but these guys have created a television show with that same type of quality. The storytelling is great and the characters are so rich. For me, it’s the idea of wrestling with humanity and how human beings treat each other. It strikes so many different chords. There’s always someone to lock in on and root for because you see yourself in them. There’s something in it for everyone.
JW: What other projects are you working on now?
CC: “The Expanse” is going to be on the SyFy network in December. It’s a space ship drama starring Thomas Jane that’s set 150 years in the future. I play a badass commander, Fred Johnson. There’s a lot of action politics and intrigue. It’s going to be really exciting and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve also recently signed on to do “Roots” for the History Channel. It’s not a remake though. They’re revisiting some of the characters more intently and going a bit more in depth. I also have Treadwater, which is a trans-media franchise that’s a graphic novel and interactive video game that’s being developed into a television show.
JW: What do you miss the most about your Walking Dead experience?
CC: Definitely the cast and crew and the whole family atmosphere. It’s a great bunch of smart, passionate people who just love what they do!
JW: What do you think Tyreese’s message would be for the surviving characters?
CC: I think he would be opposed to having just one character be the moral compass. Let everyone negotiate that sense for himself or herself. Find the value and the necessity in continuing to develop that part of themselves and above all – do not lose hope!
“The Walking Dead: The Complete Fifth Season” is available August 25 on Blu-ray + Digital HD and DVD.