The confirmation, along with the first official image above, comes in an interview with Entertainment Weekly after months of speculation, about half of that time featuring a set photo that showed Gilliam in a priest's uniform and seemingly blew the secret.
"I did see them," Gilliam said of the photos. "And I spent the first week kind of creeping around from my trailer to the set, trying my best to cover myself. But then I noticed, some of those shots look like they were taken from, like, six blocks away with telescopic photo lenses. There's really nothing you can do about covering that. I mean, I could look down the block and see that there's nobody there and go, 'Okay, I'm gonna step out now.' And then see a picture of myself stepping out, and be like, 'Where did that come from?' There's got to be somebody planted on a roof somewhere five blocks away. I don't really get that, the whole spoiler thing. It's kind of confusing to me why you'd want to give things away."
Gilliam, who has never seen the TV series before being cast in it, binge-watched all four seasons in a matter of a week or so, but has still only read a single issue of the comic book.
"I only read the comic book where Father Gabriel was introduced, which I think was episode 61 in the comics. I didn't read anything before that, and I haven't read anything after that," he said. "I discovered from reading about the show that often times characters' names and journeys are kind of crisscrossed and mismatched, so I thought if I did read too much I might be giving myself a lot of information that would be useless, or just outright wrong. So I figured, like with everything, I'd just take the script and try to fill him out the best I possibly can."
In the comics, Father Gabriel is a tortured soul: a preacher who turned away members of his flock and holed up alone in the church in the hopes of surviving the zombie apocalypse. Gilliam says that his audition script was a school guidance counselor who was having trouble with two of his students.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC in October.