Chad Coleman might be best known for playing the character Dennis “Cutty” Wise from “The Wire,” but that role is taking a back seat to his role on “The Walking Dead” as the character Tyreese. Coleman joined the popular AMC show last year during Season 3. Chad and the rest of the crew are gearing up for Season 4 which will air on Sunday, October 13th.
From film to TV, Chad has been part of many great movies and shows. I had the great pleasure of sitting down to talk with Chad about “The Walking Dead,” Comic Con, and fatherhood.
Art Eddy: You joined the cast in Season 3 playing the character Tyreese. You and your small group of survivors reach the prison where Rick and his crew set up camp. You don’t get that great of a welcome. What was Tyreese’s first impression of Rick?
Chad Coleman: Well, initially considering the rest of the group and understanding he was the leader, Hershel and everyone else presented themselves in a very formidable, community oriented way. So, the possibility of being part of that community was exciting.
Then of course Rick comes in and throws everything off the rails, but I didn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. I was trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. Based on everything I saw before me, and everything we assessed, this guy couldn’t have been just a crazy maniac and an effective leader.
From what we saw I was just trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but I was also going to protect my people. Better to live to die another day than just lose my head and get us into a much deeper and much more precarious situation.
AE: You guys were thrown out of the prison by Rick as he was hallucinating. Do you think your character would rather take his chances with zombies than a crazy guy with a gun?
CC: Absolutely. That was the bottom line. When we were assessing the situation we had done okay. We were dog tired and ready for safe haven for sure, but we know we could handle ourselves out there in those woods if it was called for. Even though we were trying like hell to get out of it we at least knew what we were up against. We would rather deal with that opposition than to deal with a guy that was (laughs)… I don’t really know what was going on.
AE: Then you and your sister Sasha end up in Woodbury with the Governor, who is able to hide his crazy. Did Woodbury seem too good to be true for Tyreese and Sasha?
CC: I think initially. I think that was what we were trying to go for when we first met him. It was very much about “hey let’s not fall into temptation”. We know the world that we are living in. That’s why when we shot that scene and Greg Nicotero directed it we took a lot of time with that scene. It was very important that we just didn’t go, ‘Hey whoo-hoo free showers and food! Yea!’
It was like where are we? What are we dealing with? This guy has encountered (Rick) as well. There had been casualties. We had to make sure that we built that into that scene. When he was asking me how to get into that prison I had called up the producer, at the time it was Glen Mazzara, I said “hey man how do we do this?” I don’t want to feel like I am just throwing these people under the bus because of Rick.
I felt a good connection with Hershel and even Carl. I know that he is a young kid with a gun, but he was rational. He was level headed. I said “hey tread lightly”. There is nothing going on here that can’t lead us here to the security and safety that we are looking for. We have to be precautious as well. That scene was a hard decision for me to make.
AE: Towards the end of Season 3 you and Sasha join Rick’s crew. What was Tyreese’s feeling on joining them?
CC: If you go back and look at it Hershel presented himself in such a manner. The humanity was there. I felt like if that guy had spent that much time around Rick, Rick could not be that out there. I guess we caught him at a bad time. As things would have it, it did turn out that way. As the situation unfolded it is like, okay now coming back and Rick accepting us, I pretty much could say alright this guy was just having a bad day.
To see (Rick) allow the rest of the Woodbury community to come as well I was very happy. Andrea played a pivotal part in our decision making too, when we ran into her at the top of the bus. What she shared with us, stayed with us. That played into our decision to not go with the Governor and to see who he was. When we got to that gate and we were trying to get Carrie back Rick stepped out first. He showed what a man he really was. So for us right now it is like how do we fit into this community?
AE: Season 4 airs on October 13th. Can you give me a little bit of info on what we can expect from Tyreese?
CC: You guys are going to get to know Tyreese in a way you haven’t seen thus far. It is epic. It is gut wrenching. That goes across the board for Season 4. No one goes untested. No one goes unscathed in a post apocalyptical world. It is just not going to happen.
Look at Hershel as the voice of reason and look at what happened to him. Look at where his character started from and the arc his character took. Tyreese has a sense of that. He is a voice of reason. He has a certain moral compass and a right way to do things. Everybody gets put into the blender. That’s the way it goes. When you witness what happens it is some jaw dropping stuff.
AE: I love the show “The Talking Dead” that follows “The Walking Dead.” You have been on that show. How much fun did you have on that show and also how did it feel to see the reactions of the fans since the show has a live audience?
CC: That is one of the biggest pleasures of doing that show. You are right there with the audience. You are right there with the fans. Right there with the people who made it. You are talking 12.5 million people a week. You see that passion firsthand, and you get to have fun with it. You get to learn about the insight of other people watching the show. You also get to have a spooky phone call on the live show. That call was incredible and bizarre. The producers cut the phone call with the caller pretty quickly.
AE: Yea! (Chris) Hardwick was ticked that they cut him off. You were with Norman (Reedus) at the time right?
CC: Yea I was with Norman and some comedian. I think she was from “Community.” She was a great guest. People on Twitter were putting up pictures saying “hey this is what your face looked like”. It was funny. I was messing with Reedus. I asked him if that was one of his friends. It was appropriately bizarre. You couldn’t have planned that any better.
AE: What are some funny things that happen on the set between filming scenes?
CC: It is always hard to remember. We joke around, that’s for sure. We have fun with each other like doing a silly dance right before we go on and we will say crazy stuff to each other. It is more like locker room humor. It always depends on what scene that we are working on. Sometimes just the crazy mishaps that happen when we are doing physical stuff. You miss, and end up stepping on a zombie by mistake. These things happen. Some of the stuff is is the type where you ask are you okay, but it is still kind of funny.
AE: Switching to fatherhood, you have a daughter. What are some of the fun things you and her like to do together?
CC: We love scary movies. We love eating sushi together. We love taking walks in the park and bird watching. Just looking at the plants and taking a leisurely stroll together. We love travel. She loves going into the pool. So things like that.
AE: What is your favorite scary movie right now to watch with her?
CC: The movie right now is the latest “Paranormal Activity.” That one hit home for us. That one was scary.
AE: Does she watch “The Walking Dead?”
CC: Yea. I let her. Her friends are big fans of the show. She loves it. Since we have been doing the scary movie thing with her mother would be like, “What movie are you doing to see?’, and we would say “The Simpsons.” Then we would go see a scary movie. I knew that SaCha could handle it. She never had nightmares or anything. She just loves to be scared. It is fun and I think that it is a connection that we have.
AE: What does she think of your acting career and does she want to follow your footsteps?
CC: She already has. She has been on Broadway already. She was on Broadway with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in “Fences.” She is an actress. In 2009, I made my Broadway debut in “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”
In 2010, SaCha made her debut just a year after me. When I was on Broadway my buddy told my daughter, ‘See your daddy up there? Would you like to do that?’ She said, ‘Yea.’ One year later there she was on Broadway, in a major way.
AE: What are some of the principles that you teach her about life and hope that she keeps those as she grows up?
CC: I just tell SaCha to be herself. Don’t be a follower. Be a leader. Be kind. I also tell her to understand that she has her own personality and she is not trying to change who she is just to fit in. I tell her to be confident in herself and just have fun.
AE: What is the best thing about being a dad?
CC: Laying back with her head on my chest watching a movie.