To the delight of Walking Dead fans everywhere, Chad L. Coleman appeared in the winter finale as comic book favorite Tyreese. With a calm demeanor and a cool head, we watched Tyreese lead this new pack of survivors to safety. Tyreese is going to face some major challenges in the next few episodes, but don't worry — according to Coleman, "The man has a hammer and he knows how to use it."
We spoke with Coleman in a recent phone conference where the actor tackled just about every question he could without giving away too much. But what we do know for sure is that there are only eight episodes of Walking Dead season three left, and Coleman has promised he'll be in five of the eight remaining episodes. Take that any way you want.
How the TV Tyreese will differ from the comic book Tyreese.
Chad L. Coleman: I'm not an inside-out student of the graphic novel. When I came on board I was told if we need to reference it, and this is in no way to diminish it. But the experience I'm having with the show is, just ride it out with us script for script. The humanity of the man is very much akin to what was done in the graphic novel. I believe his lack of skills as a rifleman is very much part of it. His desire to protect, his desire to abstain from egregious violence, his humanity, his strong sense of family, those are things that are resonating for me in playing this role.
How did Coleman got involved with The Walking Dead
For the most part the story that I get was that Robert Kirkman was a huge fan of The Wire and the character that I played on The Wire, that was the origin for me.
Tyreese and Rick BFF 4 EVA, still?
That's a dangerous question. All I can say is that forces collide on the same level. That's what I will say. [On his relationship with Michonne] I could not give you one iota about that. That is a cliffhanger to the third power. There is much that will surprise me as it will surprise you. But that's the pedigree of the show. It's gonna be juicy and awesome for all parties involved.
Did you know Tyreese was a fan favorite before you got the part?
Yeah as soon as I went online. As soon as I pulled it up, that's the icing on the cake. I've created an original role before, but to have something that was already present in another form. And to have to honor it... that's huge for me, that's my desire. To make the audience proud of what's happening in the television world of the Walking Dead.
How the Walking Dead compares to The Wire
Well, the differences right away are in the whole horror/zombie aspect. There's the technical aspect of it, what's done in post and the digital stuff, ways to position your body, things of that nature in order for the audience to experience what you're experiencing in that very real way. It's far more physical, even though I was training in the gym [for The Wire], I still found myself more winded than I was with The Wire . Not to say I'm out of shape! But it's a lot more physical... The similarities are in the intelligence, the creativity and the passion of the actors and creators of the show, that's the same. Sonequa [Martin-Green] who plays Sasha, she [says], 'Chad I'm tired of hearing how this reminds you of The Wire.' But I say this in, these are flagship shows to me that speak to the level of artistic integrity all actors pine for.
Thoughts on Walking Dead's habit of killing off African-American characters.
I have a very dear friend who I think is very much leading the online charge... I can't say anything there, but slow down, be easy, you're gonna be incredibly proud. [Exec. Producer] Glen Mazzara and all of these folks have the highest of integrity and character. We matter as much as anyone else, you're gonna see that played out on the show. I don't think there's any kind of agenda on their parts, it's just how storytelling unfolds sometimes. You guys are going to be incredibly proud of Tyreese and Michonne and Sasha. You're gonna be so satisfied.
How much are we going to get to explore Tyrese backstory? Are we going to explore his football history? He's a famous football player, will people remember him?
That I don't know... There's back history between my character and Daniel [Thomas May] who plays the character Allen [who was introduced on Monday]. And boy, was that an amazing day. So yeah I love that kind of love [the background] stuff. It just sweetens the pot.