SPOILER ALERT: Do not read on unless you've seen The Walking Dead, series five, episode nine, which aired on Sunday, February 8.
We were still reeling from Beth Greene (Emily Kinney)'s death two months ago in The Walking Dead's midseason finale. But as the winter season premiere of the hit AMC series returned to our screens on Sunday, Feb. 8, there was, naturally, another devastating character departure ahead!
The episode, entitled "What Happened and What's Going On," turned out to be the last for Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman), who joined the show back in season three. And for Coleman the biggest difficulty has been keeping the secret since October of last year!
"I’ve been having to lie to people," Coleman told Us Weekly in an exclusive, top-secret interview days before his final episode aired last night. "There are conspiracy theorists, people see me doing some work on another show [and say] 'Oh, that must mean Tyreese is going to be killed.' I’ve been trying to beat ‘em back as hard as I could," he added, laughing.
Tyreese leaves his sister, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), behind in the episode which is both powerful and potentially controversial for the show. But while some costars (like Danai Guirira) were outraged to find out it was the end of the line for Coleman's character, the actor (who also memorably appeared on HBO's The Wire) insists he totally understands the decision, and is excited for his life beyond The Walking Dead.
Q: How did you find out that Tyreese was going to die?
A: Three episodes prior to shooting that episode is when I found out. And I thought Scott Gimple, the showrunner, was joking!
Q: What did he say?
A: He said, 'It’s time. The time has come for Tyreese to go.' I said, 'You’re joking. You’re playing.' And I looked at him, and he teared up. And then I just kept going, 'Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.' And then when I finished saying wow, we gave each other a big hug and then I said, 'Hey, I had an amazing time on the show.' If I only did the episode of The Grove, I would walk away feeling very proud."
Q: The episode where you forgive Carol?
A: Yes. The episode with Melissa McBride. The Melissa McBride. If I only did that episode, I would have been fine. Then Scott proceeded to tell me exactly what the episode entailed, and it was amazing. I was like, 'Let’s go, let’s shoot it tomorrow.' So it was an amazing deal.
Q: How was filming that last scene?
A: It was intense and exhausting and I was torn inside out. It was all of that and then some.
Q: How did the rest of the cast find out?
A: I called Danai. She was like, 'That’s bullsh-t man! You should tell them, man! You gotta fight it, man!' I was like, 'Naahh! I don’t have an argument.' I really think it is time for me to go. I can't come up with what to say. Everybody had an aversion to it. Nobody wanted me to go. [But] I was resigned to it. I couldn’t come up with an argument why I should stay. I felt like I’ve done everything I can do on the show.
Q: The cast always has these big dinners when someone leaves. What was yours like?
A: Oh, it was beautiful. It was around a campfire. It was the first time we had done that. It was outside at one of the producers’ homes. Just to receive that love from the execs down to the directors to the cast was an amazing thing.
Q: Lots of tears?
A: Absolutely. Just beautiful, heartfelt stuff. We did Beth and I together. [Beth Greene died in the episode before]. It was wonderful and beautiful.
Q: Did you take any souvenirs from set?
A: I definitely have the hammer! They gave me the hammer for sure. It was two plastic [ones] and one real one. Very seldom — and for obvious reasons — did I use the real one. I wanted the plastic one, because that’s the one had the most relationship with.
Q: Who are you keeping in touch with now that you’re off the show?
A: I see more of L.G. — Lawrence Gilliard. But I kick it with them all. I hit [Norman] Reedus up, I hit Andy up, there’s, you know, Scott Wilson… everybody’s on my radar, but I probably talk with L.G. more than anybody else.