The Walking Dead's latest newcomer is a sure-thing to be a fan-favorite as his character develops on AMC's hit series. Tom Payne is already a heartthrob on Twitter and this past Sunday's The Next World episode was one of the most fun of the entire series thanks in large part to his Paul "Jesus" Rovia character.
Fans of the comics, however, may have been a bit thrown off for a moment when Payne delivered the line where he said his name for the first time. In the comics, though he still goes by Jesus, the character's real name is Paul Monroe. There's no relation to Deanna Monroe and it seems that the showrunners at AMC decided to rule out any possibilities of confusion with the name change.
"I have no absolute answer on that but my understanding of that is it's purely for the people who don't read the comic books to not be confused," Payne says. "I think because you have Deanna and her family and I think it's just about, 'What do you mean? Are they related?' At the end of the day, the most important name is Jesus! Honestly, I don't think you're going to hear that name again. I think it's just going to be Jesus now. I think that's the thing which is great and I'm really glad they stayed with that because there was a lot of speculation about 'Will they keep it Paul because Jesus is controversial?' and 'Blah, blah,' but I'm really happy that it's, 'My friends call me Jesus.' I read that line like, 'That's cool!'"
As for his character, we can look forward to much more development. In fact, Payne says this Sunday's "Knots Untie" episode is his favorite he has been a part of so far. We are wondering, though, how closely will AMC's Jesus follow the Image comics version? Luckily, Payne was willing to share some insight.
"I would say that, obviously, there's more to come but also, I went close to the comic book," Payne explains. "I went close to the script and what I was given and what I was told but from my understanding right now is what we went for right now was, I want to say, a little bit more light (although lighter is the wrong way because he's not a light character, still) but it was nice to inject a different bit of color into the show and a different energy and I think that was what was most important. It was like, we have to give him a bit of a different attitude towards stuff."
"Actually, since watching the show, the show is super serious, obviously. A lot of the time you want some kind of levity and some kind of lightness. I really enjoyed the fact that I could come into the show and inject that. He kind of has that in the comic books but we brought it up a little bit for this episode and made it a bit more, not outright comedy, but a bit more something to smile at with my entrance. You see it after they tie me up and I have a little chuckle with myself after they drive off. Everything that happened in that episode for me and my character wasn't like, 'Oh, no! I hate these guys!' Everything was like, 'Oh, they tied me up. Okay, that's funny. Now I'm on the top of the truck! Now I'm running around!'"
Payne's further description only matches comic book Jesus even more. Sure, his introduction changed, but that doesn't change the character. He's still a bad-ass and possibly on the path to becoming Rick's right-hand man for good advice.
"Nothing with that character is too much," Payne went on. "He can deal with a lot. That's in the comic books. He's a very steady hand. You always go to him to see how he feels about things. I read the most recent one and there's a cut away to what he feels about Rick's big speech, what they're going to do about the situation that they're in, and there's a cutaway to Jesus and he's kind of that steady hand in those situations. I'm looking forward to how this character might develop in the show because he definitely adds a new color to the group in the show that I'm looking forward to seeing, and you don't know if the show is going to follow the comics because sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, but when I came on the show, I was like, 'Oh, this is fun. This definitely brings a new energy.' I'm excited to see it help with that!"
Keep it locked to ComicBook.com as more of our chat with The Walking Dead's new star, Tom Payne, will be coming up throughout the week!
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 PM ET on AMC.