When I told people I was interviewing The Walking Dead's Michael Traynor, the reactions I got were clear: People still do not like the guy. His character, Nicholas, that is. It's my pleasure to tell everyone this: Traynor himself is funny, cool, and a damn nice fellow.
At the Walker Stalker Convention in Tulsa earlier this month, I was given a few minutes to talk to Traynor about some stuff and things, as Rick Grimes would say. We spoke about the aftermath of Nicholas getting the much-loved Noah killed. And then there was that entire month where viewers thought he was responsible for getting the really much-loved Glenn killed. When I brought up that dumpster scene in #TheWalkingDead, the conversation naturally turned to the internet backlash he received. How he reacted to his online death threats, compared to how his co-stars reacted to theirs, is fascinating.
How did he react to his death threats, exactly?
You'd think that Traynor would steer clear of threats to his life, and certainly steer clear of the people making them. Instead, he chooses to dive in:
"I like to embrace it. I like to try to engage people who do the death threats, because I feel like maybe they have an enthusiasm about the show that's clearly misplaced."
It's a different approach than what we've seen from costars Josh McDermitt and Alanna Masterson, who (totally understandably) chose to leave social media after being on the receiving end of body shaming and death threats. McDermitt became fed up with having his life threatened by some misguided fans, to put it nicely, after his character Eugene jumped ship and joined #Negan's team. And after giving birth to her daughter last year, Alanna had to deal with some very hateful trolls.
But Traynor chooses to face these nasty fans head-on. In an interview with MTV back in 2015, Traynor had this to say about how he and his family handled the trolls, which he reiterated at the convention.
"My family and I made a game of following the death threats on Twitter, and seeing who had the best ones, like ranking the death threats for originality."
How did some of those seemingly unhinged fans respond when Traynor actually replied to their threats?
"A lot of times if you respond to the most heinous of death threats, they just kind of write back to me, 'Oh my God, I am so impressed you even noticed me! I'm so sorry! You're awesome!' It's just that illusion of anonymity, and once you shine a light on them, a lot of times, they break down."
That's the kind of reaction you would expect from #MichaelTraynor, who, during one of the panels at the convention, jokingly admitted to having rewritten the dumpster scene in his head to where Nicholas lived.
Nicholas may have died two seasons ago, but (most of) the rest of the survivors live on. See them again this October when Season 8 of The Walking Dead comes to AMC!