Last October, about a week before The Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere, I met Michael Cudlitz at an event. Cudlitz, who played fan-favorite Abraham Ford in the AMC series, was being inundated by fan questions regarding his fate as he was heavily rumored to be Negan's upcoming first victim.
When it was my turn to spend a few moments with the actor, I couldn't help myself so I made him promise me that he would survive the first episode of the season. I knew deep down that he was of course required to lie regarding major plot details but when he said he would be fine, I tried to believe him. Like everyone, I witnessed the bloody truth play out on screen about a week later, but couldn't help but laugh thinking about the kind of secrets Cudlitz had to keep within the months prior - and now he is speaking out about the secrecy he had to endure regarding his character.
Abraham still had a major impact on Season 7 even though he only appeared in two episodes. The first is obviously the premiere episode where he met his death, but the second came at season finale in a sequence of flashbacks when Sasha was hallucinating.
Even after his character's death, #MichaelCudlitz had the difficult task of of hiding the truth from fans about it, but more importantly, his character's late season return. Cudlitz spoke to ComicBook.com regarding the steps he had to take for his surprise Abraham moment:
"For me, the biggest thing was the look. You know, keep the red hair and keep the mustache."
The red hair and mustache was a staple for Abraham and fans would have been quick to judge if it seemingly disappeared and then returned. Cudlitz was required to hang on to a the look a little while longer. He also had a few other techniques up his sleeve to distract fans from the truth of his return, one of which included the actor having to travel quite often:
"I had pictures saved up that I would put out on my Twitter account and I'd talk about Atlanta when I wasn't there. When I was there, I would make sure I photographed and tweeted and be seen as much as possible. Especially the airport -- the one place where I do not use the lounge...or didn't use the lounge. I would make sure I was in line at the food court, and eating out in public. You make a big deal of it when you are there. If you're at a hotel for the night, whatever, you make sure you at least walk out a little bit, be seen. It only takes one or two people to put it out their social that they saw you, or whatever. 'What's he doing there? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.' And they take it and they run with it. They do all the work."
Cudlitz sure went to a lot of trouble to keep his return a surprise but clearly he did it for #TheWalkingDead fans. He wanted Abraham's return to be a special one and it certainly was a treat to see him once again. Cudlitz may not have had a lot of screentime last season but Abraham still has a significant impact on the series, even after his death.
The Walking Dead season 8 premieres October 22, 2017 on AMC!
What do you think of the steps Michael Cudlitz had to take to keep his return a secret? Tell us in the comments below!