‘The Walking Dead’ Showrunner Previews New Characters

In porting over a group of fan-favorite characters from creator Robert Kirkman’s comic books, The Walking Dead will soon add a diverse and remixed lineup of survivors to its ranks.

“It’s been really fun for us to work on this new group that comes in. Magna and Yumiko are fan favorites. And then we really were into the idea of having an interesting group that’s with them. Luke, Connie, and Kelly,” showrunner Angela Kang told EW.

“Those are all characters in the comic book. It’s our sort of take on them. And what’s been great is obviously [Kirkman] is so generous about how we adapt his comics. None of these characters are literal to the way they are in the comic book, but they’re still true to the spirit of these characters. And we really like the idea of having a group that felt kind of different from the other groups that we’ve seen come up on the show.”

The group feels “quite international,” Kang said, pointing to Germany-born Magna (The 100’s Nadia Hilker), who is also of Middle Eastern descent and who speaks with “a little bit of an accent because she grew up in Germany.”

Yumiko (Wonder Woman’s Eleanor Matsuura), who in the comics was Magna’s girlfriend, is “of Japanese descent but she grew up in the U.K., so she has a British accent.” And of Luke (Fantastic Beast’s Dan Fogler), Kang teased, “he’s sort of a different type than the Luke in the comics, and he brings great comedic chops and warmth and fun to the role.”

Then there’s sisters Connie (Children of a Lesser God’s Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (newcomer Angel Theory). The show makes two big changes when bringing the pair to screen: Kelly in the comics was Connie’s boyfriend, not her sister, and both Connie of the show and the “wonderful” Ridloff are deaf.

Because Kelly also has hearing loss, “both of them sign with each other,” Kang said.

“And we thought it’d be really great to have a group that knows how to communicate in a different way. All of these characters in some ways know some [American Sign Language], and they sign to each other. They’re just so tight. They have leaned on each other.”

TWD magna group
(Left to right: Kelly, Yumiko, Luke, Connie, and Magna. Photo: Image Comics.)

The tight-knit and “tough” group will bring with them their own shared history and set of challenges.

“That’s been really fun for us from the writing side, to have this different grouping of characters,” Kang said.

“It’s almost if you followed a parallel story of The Walking Dead, that this could be another group you could have followed because they’ve been through a lot of the same kinds of difficulties that our characters have, but they have found each other. They found themselves on the road much longer than our characters have, and so they have some different skills, and they’re tough. They’re tough and they love each other. And these actors are really sweet. Our cast who was already on the show absolutely has embraced them, and loves them, and so it’s been really fun for everyone to have this new energy on set.”

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Magna and her group will be introduced after Andrew Lincoln’s Rick Grimes exits the series.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.