Major spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 7 premiere follow.
Upon revealing Negan's kill in The Walking Dead's Season 7 premiere on Sunday night, AMC gave the cast of the show the greenlight to open up about the dark days on set and how long they have known the day was coming.
With both Abraham and Glenn bowing out in the opening hour of the show's seventh year, both Michael Cudlitz and Steven Yeun are finally able to discuss their exit from the AMC series. As it would turn out, they have known they would meet their demise during Negan's introduction for over a year - well before The Walking Dead's Season 6 finale created the mystery of "Who did Negan kill?" for fans.
Furthermore, Cudlitz and Yeun weren't alone in their knowledge despite the casts insistence on being unaware after the finale's airing back in April. Speaking to Cudlitz on Monday morning in the wake of brutal Season 7 premiere, ComicBook.com heard the full story.
“I found about a year and three months ago," Cudlitz said. "They told me that they were going to take me out. They were talking about the end of season 6 and the beginning of season 7. They weren’t sure how they were going to do it, Scott [Gimple] wasn’t sure how he wanted to structure the storytelling for the greatest impact. Our whole big thing was wondering how we could possibly keep this secret because of the people out there whose only jobs in the world are to ruin everyone else’s television viewing experience. They had to balance that knowing that there were people who were trying to get that information out there and also knowing that we had some sort of in-house leaks so far. And also because of the very real nature that the show airs all around the world at the same time. A lot of eyeballs are on the show."
When the sixth season ended, the cast and crew insisted that the death scenes had not been filmed yet. Cudlitz, however, claims Abraham died long before then.
“We filmed the scene about a year ago," Cudlitz said. "It was literally the last episode of last year. We usually finish filming just before Thanksgiving and we had finished filming that one just before Thanksgiving. I had been sitting with it and Steven Yeun had been sitting with it — it’s been sitting with the rest of the cast for a year now. One of the good things was that we were able to spread a rumor that not even the cast knew what was going to happen and that they were going to find out when they came back and they filmed everybody’s death scene just in case. And they said they were re-doing contract negotiations for some of the cast — all that was a lie. But what it enabled us to do was not have to defend who was dead or hide who was dead for at least five months, which was great.”
MORE on The Walking Dead season 7 premiere:
Kingdom Preview Released / Norman Reedus On Daryl's Future / Season 7 Premiere Recap (SPOILERS) / Who Is King Ezekiel / Where's Daryl Now? / Negan's Comic Book History /Twitter Reactions to Negan's Kill / Was the Premiere Too Violent?
The only person Cudlitz was willing to spill the beans to was his wife - until his kids started asking why he was home in Los Angeles everyday. The actor even lied to a hair stylist back home when he asked for the red hair to be renewed.
"I went in to the guy who cuts my hair, and I had gotten my hair dyed and he said, 'Aren't they doing it on the show anymore? What's going on?' I told him that if I do it at home, I get to stay home an extra day because if I go out there, then they have to bring me in a day or two early because they've got to get it done before I shoot. Sometimes it wraps around a weekend so that one day could be three days. I told the guy who cuts my hair that, 'If you do it, they'll allow me to stay in LA a day longer and I can hang out with my family longer.'"
Even the guys at the gym were starting to worry.0comments
"The guy at the gym at the desk said, 'I'm getting a little concerned because you've been in for a lot of days in a row now,'" Cudlitz said. "I would say to him, 'Oh, no, I'm actually leaving tomorrow,' and then for the next two days, I would go to a different gym."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. For complete coverage and insider info all season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.