It’s no surprise that producers told actor Michael Cudlitz his character was going to die, but Abraham’s death was actually filmed over a year ago!
As we all know, “Big Red” Abraham met his end on Sunday’s Walking Dead premiere. One of the big questions fans always have is “when did you find out you were going to die?”
As it turns out, actor Michael Cudlitz has known about Abraham’s fate for a long time now.
A Death Long in the Planning
“I found about a year and three months ago,” Cudlitz said. “They told me that they were going to take me out. [Producers] were talking about the end of season 6 and the beginning of season 7. They weren’t sure how they were going to do it, Scott [Gimple] wasn’t sure how he wanted to structure the storytelling for the greatest impact.
“Our whole big thing was wondering how we could possibly keep this secret because of the people out there whose only jobs in the world are to ruin everyone else’s television viewing experience. They had to balance that knowing that there were people who were trying to get that information out there and also knowing that we had some sort of in-house leaks so far. And also because of the very real nature that the show airs all around the world at the same time. A lot of eyeballs are on the show.”
Lies, Lies, and More Lies
It makes sense that producers would let Cudlitz and Yuen know ahead of time. It’s a different story when it comes to the filming. Most fans assumed those two death scenes were filmed earlier this year when production began on Season 7. Cast members had all said they wouldn’t find out who died until they started filming this year. Turns out, that’s all wrong.
“We filmed the scene about a year ago,” Cudlitz said. “It was literally the last episode of last year. We usually finish filming just before Thanksgiving and we had finished filming that one just before Thanksgiving. I had been sitting with it and Steven Yeun had been sitting with it — it’s been sitting with the rest of the cast for a year now.
“One of the good things was that we were able to spread a rumor that not even the cast knew what was going to happen and that they were going to find out when they came back and they filmed everybody’s death scene just in case. And they said they were re-doing contract negotiations for some of the cast — all that was a lie. But what it enabled us to do was not have to defend who was dead or hide who was dead for at least five months, which was great.”
How to Keep a Hollywood Secret
Cudlitz hasn’t actually been filming The Walking Dead for over a year now. So what lengths has he gone to in order to hide that fact? A lot, as it turns out.
“I went in to the guy who cuts my hair, and I had gotten my hair dyed and he said, ‘Aren’t they doing it on the show anymore? What’s going on?’ I told him that if I do it at home, I get to stay home an extra day because if I go out there, then they have to bring me in a day or two early because they’ve got to get it done before I shoot. Sometimes it wraps around a weekend so that one day could be three days. I told the guy who cuts my hair that, ‘If you do it, they’ll allow me to stay in LA a day longer and I can hang out with my family longer.'”
As hilarious as that is, Cudlitz even had to hide out from the gym in order to keep his secret!
“The guy at the gym at the desk said, ‘I’m getting a little concerned because you’ve been in for a lot of days in a row now,'” Cudlitz said. “I would say to him, ‘Oh, no, I’m actually leaving tomorrow,’ and then for the next two days, I would go to a different gym.”