The Walking Dead Q&A: Chad Coleman Talks Tyreese's Trauma

Chad Coleman’s Tyreese was confronted by an unthinkable horror at the end of last Sunday’s episode of “The Walking Dead.”

Following a trail of blood, the sensitive strongman of the group headed outside of Cell Block A, where he saw a brutal and devastating site — the smoking remains of his girlfriend Karen and their friend David.

“I just felt like he was in system overload, just could not believe what he was seeing. He didn’t know how to process it,” Chad told AccessHollywood.com of what went into his performance at that moment. “So yeah, that was a tough one.

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“Melissa Ponzio [Karen] is a wonderful, wonderful actress and… when she knew she had to go, she said, ‘Make it count,’” he continued. “[When somebody has to] get iced off the show, people should always remember them and it’s her last love interest. I want people to understand the value of that relationship because you didn’t get to see but so much of it.”

With all the emotions of that big twist, this week looks to be a big episode for Tyreese’s character, as Chad hinted in a new interview with Access.

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AccessHollywood.com: Tyreese is the poet of our group, the sensitive guy of the show. What has it been like to show more of these layers to him this season?

Chad Coleman: They wanted to roll the character out in a particular way and so they wanted to take the time with him and this year was gonna be the year that you get to see a lot of who this man really is. I’m all for playing complicated characters and multi-layered characters. I think that’s what makes drama intriguing so I’m like psyched. Right now the rock is at the top of the hill and just about to get pushed over. It’s about to—

Access: It’s about to what?

Chad: You know… dot, dot, dot (laughs).

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Access: Tyreese saw what happened to his girlfriend and David. Tell me about filming that scene. It affected a lot of people, the stuff going on, on your face at that time.

Chad: Yeah, that was really, really, really intense… You just go and you just kind of sequester yourself and you just make that internal journey and then just allow it to then just release.

Access: Does it make the loss easier or harder that Tyreese and Karen hadn’t gotten intimate at this point in their relationship. She had that line in the prison library where she told him it was time for ‘that.’

Chad: Yeah, it makes it harder because… you had all that anticipation and we were moving in such a great direction. And more so than anything else I would say, is the vulnerability, it’s trusting another human being enough to be vulnerable with them in that type of world, because there’s always a cost to opening up yourself. And I was certainly opening up myself with her and so that’s even more devastating because trust is so hard to come by, so to be able to definitely feel that anticipation with her and see that willingness to step out and allow my feelings to show in that way and to get cut short like that, that’s even more — yeah, I think that’s even heavier.

Access: At this point, before we see the next episode, can Tyreese take any more?

Chad: That’s a great, great, great, great, great question… and it’s kind of like part of the through-line for him. How much more can I take? So, you’ll see how he works his way through it. But that’s a good place to be in your observation because yeah, when you see what goes on, you’ll get it.

Access: One thing we know from the preview clips is Tyreese’s sister, Sasha, is coughing, her lips are pale and she’s heading to the quarantine. How bad is it going to get?

Chad: Oh it’s gonna get really bad. No one goes unscathed and that’s the amazing thing about this season. Everyone is going to be carrying a heavy load… and a lot of themes are interrelated so you can only imagine what her illness, what effects her illness will have on me, but it’s gonna make for some outstanding television.

Access: And the clip they showed on ‘Talking Dead’ … you’re involved in a car scene… and the herd, or what we think is the herd is coming. What can you hint at about how bad zombies are when they’re in a herd?

Chad: Wow. You kind of saw it… It’s fight or flight in that situation, but there’s some other mitigating circumstances. You saw where he was in the back of that car. So yeah, this is all the part of no one goes unscathed and it’s huge and it’s epic and it’s gut-wrenching and that’s just what you get served up. So that’s what’s coming.

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Access: How big of an episode is this for Tyreese and is this going to kind of show us who this man fully is?

Chad: You’re gonna see a lot. You’re gonna know a hell of a lot more than you did going in.

Access: Do you know anything about why Tyreese is so kind and thoughtful and has such a good moral compass?

Chad: I just make up stuff for myself. Just use what I got. I’ve always been a person who’s interested in being fair and not being mean and just trying to get along with people. I don’t like the feeling of discord between people. I know that there’s innately a part of me, and there’s no absolute description for it but, that’s just something that I distinctly remember from being 5 years old, just kind of not understanding why people were mean to each other. And as far as [Tyreese is] concerned, I would say, as an athlete, he probably ran across a coach, maybe it’s his parents, maybe ran across a coach like a [former NFL coach] Tony Dungy, somebody with a high moral character, who impacted his life. But it’s not [something that creator Robert Kirkman has talked about] so I don’t want to give license to something Kirkman may not be coming from.

Access: If gender or age wasn’t a prohibiting factor, is there another character you’d want to play on the show?

Chad: No, you know what? Not to be politically correct, but I’m really, really happy with what’s going and with what I’m able to take on and I also love to be able to witness the work that my fellow actors do, so I’m always kind of just in awe or absorbed in their deal. Everybody’s doing an exceptional job. What David Morrissey did with The Governor… last year, I just saw so much [of] the pain… I thought he did a great job of with showing how this world can twist you up. … Maybe, The Governor.

“The Walking Dead” continues Sunday night at 9 PM ET/PT on AMC.

-- Jolie Lash

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