Abraham Ford actor Michael Cudlitz says the hardest part of leaving The Walking Dead was saying goodbye to co-star Josh McDermitt in their final episode together. In the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth,” Eugene volunteered to act as decoy when repeat Savior roadblocks prevented a pregnant and ill Maggie (Lauren Cohan) from reaching treatment at the Hilltop. Abraham, who served as the cowardly Eugene’s protector when he claimed to possess knowledge capable of ending the apocalypse, told Eugene he was wrong in a heartfelt scene that ended in a hug: “You’re a survivor. You always were,” Abe said. “We just didn’t know it. Me and you both.”
“For me it was saying goodbye to Josh, Eugene, at the motor home. Because we knew that was the last scene we were going to do together, so I was really saying goodbye to my friend that I had known for a few years on the show,” Cudlitz said of his most difficult TWD scene at German Comic Con Dortmund. “So for me that was the hardest, because it was not just the character saying goodbye, it was actors saying goodbye to each other. And that’s also my favorite scene on the show.”
It would be Abraham and Eugene’s final conversation. Ending a cliffhanger that carried over into the Season 7 premiere, a captured Eugene was forced to watch Abraham’s execution at the end of a barbwire-wrapped baseball bat swung by Savior leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
“When I came on the show — myself, Josh and Christian [Serratos, who plays Rosita] — there was a very sort of specific effort being made to go back to the world of the comic. And that was my journey, that was Abraham’s journey in the comics,” Cudlitz said. “We went a little bit longer in the show than in the graphic novel, but that story had come to an end. There were so many other characters that had come into the show, into the world, and it was sort of an emotional launch for everybody else to go into the next phase of what was going to happen.”
He continued, “No, I’m not sad. I wasn’t sad at the time. I was fine with it.” Added Cutliz’s former co-star Alanna Masterson, who played Tara, “He cried.”
“I wasn’t sad to leave. I was happy because I had left the show before Ryan [Hurst] came on,” Cudlitz joked of the Beta actor, placed just a few seats down. Hurst joined in Season 9, where Cudlitz made his directorial debut with episode 9x07, “Stradivarius,” before directing Season 10 episodes “Silence the Whisperers” and “Open Your Eyes.”
“I loved it. Coming back to the show was like coming home,” Cudlitz said. “A wonderfully talented cast that I got to work with and act with when I was on the show, and then to direct them afterwards was amazing. The biggest thing for me was the sort of love that I got back. I was very much welcomed back. And the work that everyone did to support me when I was just starting out directing, still figuring out what it meant to be a director, was amazing. Because the cast and the crew made that process very graceful. I’m happy to be here and I love working with these guys and helping them tell their stories.”
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TWD Season 10 resumes with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.