Scott Wilson’s Death Fueled The Walking Dead Co-Star Sarah Wayne Callies’ Council of Dads Performance

The death of Sarah Wayne Callies' The Walking Dead co-star Scott Wilson from leukemia fueled her performance in family drama Council of Dads, where Callies' character loses her husband to cancer. Wilson, who co-starred opposite Callies in The Walking Dead as sage farmer Hershel Greene, died in October 2018 at the age of 76. When it came time for Callies to shoot a pivotal and emotional scene in the Council of Dads pilot, where Callies' character Robin feels she failed to save husband Scott (Tom Everett Scott) from his grim diagnosis, the actress "couldn't do" the scene until she conferred with her late co-star and friend.

"I'd just lost Scott Wilson to leukemia, and my father-in-law was dying of brain cancer. He passed away in-between the pilot and the series. Actually the last thing I did with him is I curled up in bed with him in his hospice room, and I showed him the pilot," Callies said on The IMDb Show of the new NBC series. "So it hit a lot of personal notes that I really was looking for."

Asked how she tapped into emotion for the tearjerker drama, Callies explained, "Honestly, for this one, I flew by the seat of my pants more for this job than I have ever before. I did less of the 'this is my technique' preparation work, because it was right here. It was so close to my life."

In the scene where Robin, a doctor, apologizes to her husband for failing to catch his cancer, "I have a big piece of news to tell him. There's a lot of emotion underpinning that news, but the point of the scene is that I feel like a failure for not being able to save him, and not being able to cure him."

"We got to the scene and I couldn't do it. I couldn't do it. It wasn't there at all, and I couldn't even fake it," Callies said. "I saw the look on the director and the crew and the actors' faces going, 'The pilot doesn't work without this scene.'"

Callies then excused herself to consult with Wilson.

"I was like, 'I can't do this because I feel like I couldn't save you. And I can't touch it. I just can't touch it,'" she said. "And Scott and I had a whole conversation. Him dead, me in that weird actor rabbit hole, and the crew just sort of waited patiently. I came around the corner, and the director took one look at me and he went, 'Let's roll.' They cross shot it, which was really smart, and we were out of there in seven minutes."

Callies was among the Walking Dead stars in attendance at Wilson's memorial, where former co-star IronE Singleton captured mourners jointly performing a rendition of Bill Withers' "Lean on Me" in honor of Wilson.

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New episodes of Council of Dads return Thursday, April 30 at 8/7c on NBC. New episodes of The Walking Dead Season 10 premiere Sundays on AMC. For all things TWD, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.

Photo credit: Andrew Chin via Getty Images