Whether they’re fans of The Walking Dead or just think it’s the second coming, Tom Payne is already used to people yelling “Jesus” when he walks by.
It’s one thing to play a character on a popular television show named “Jesus.” It’s another thing altogether to both play that character and closely resemble religious icon, Jesus Christ. For actor Tom Payne, who plays Paul “Jesus” Monroe on The Walking Dead, it’s a blessing and a curse.
Image Credit: AMC
“It’s the funniest thing ever,” says Payne. “People say, “Oh, are you tired of the Jesus jokes yet?” I can’t get tired of the Jesus jokes because this is the rest of my life! I know that for some people I’ll always be Jesus, and people are calling it out to me and stuff, and you just have to go with it. Never in my life did I think I would be walking down the street and people would shout “Jesus!” at me in the street. It’s quite amusing.”
He may be used to the Jesus jokes, but Payne is easing himself into the rest of the Walking Dead fandom. He hasn’t met yet with the throngs of screaming fans that conventions can bring. In fact, he wasn’t even at The Walking Dead panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year.
The Beginning of the Rest of Your Life
“No, I wasn’t, and actually I was kind of happy with that,” says Payne.
“The hysteria around the show is so crazy, and I’m enjoying the slow burn into it right now, because I know what it is for all the other guys who have been on the show for longer. Now that last Sunday’s episode has happened, and once the rest of the season happens, I know that things will change a bit [for me]. So I was glad not to be plunged straight in, because I’m quite recognizable with the long hair and the beard!”
The closest Payne has gotten to the insanity of Walking Dead fandom was in New York City.
“I took my girlfriend to the premiere of Season 6 last year at Madison Square Garden, and I honestly got a bit scared by the whole thing,” he says. “It’s so insane, and everyone’s screaming, going crazy, and I know none of the cast could walk around in New York at all.
It was scary, but I was at the point of no return, and it’s that feeling where you’re getting everything you ever wanted, but there’s also an adjustment period. It’s all going to happen very soon and I’m prepared. I’ve had that time to prepare myself.”
If you saw Tom Payne on the street, would you shout, “Jesus,” at him?