The Walking Dead star Dan Fogler was "99% sure" his character, former music teacher turned apocalypse survivor Luke, was going to be one of the victims murdered by Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton) in the penultimate episode of Season 9. Fogler's comic book counterpart was one of the dozen characters slain by Alpha in The Walking Dead issue #144, where Rick Grimes, Michonne and others discovered a border marking Whisperer territory with the decapitated heads of Alpha's victims placed atop spikes. Tara (Alanna Masterson), Enid (Katelyn Nacon) and Henry (Matt Lintz) were among those killed in Season 9 episode "The Calm Before," sparing Luke and the group of survivors who first appeared earlier that season in "What Comes After."
"[Showrunner] Angela Kang called me up one day and she said, 'Do you want to play Luke?' And I was like, 'Yes! Absolutely,'" Fogler told Skybound's Talk Dead to Me podcast. "Because I'm a fan of the comic book, and just the idea of playing a character that exists in the comic book, for me, just makes the child in me very happy."
"I knew he's supposed to be, in the comics, he's supposed to be one of the heads on those spikes," Fogler continued. "So I thought, 'Okay, this is cool, I can come in and just do one season, and I'm out.' And I had a really great time. I really enjoyed bashing zombie heads [laughs]. I always wanted to be in a zombie movie, and so I get that, and I always wanted to be in a western, and so I get that, too."
Now 13 episodes into Season 10, the tight knit group of Luke, Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), ex-girlfriend Magna (Nadia Hilker), and sisters Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Kelly (Angel Theory) continue to survive. Connie remains missing, but the group of five has so far been spared being cut down to four.
"I was 99% sure that I was gonna be one of the heads on those spikes. Because that's what we had discussed," Fogler said. "We were just like, 'You're Luke, and you know he's one of the heads on the spikes.' I'm like, 'Okay, great, awesome.'"
When some Walking Dead cast members were called in to cast facial molds that special make-up effects artist Greg Nicotero would use to create the zombified heads discovered in "The Calm Before," Fogler realized he was never notified for the process.
"I sent an email to Angela and Greg Nicotero, and I said, 'Hey guys, I don't know what you're planning. My head's ready to be put on a spike [laughs]. But if for some reason you guys are considering keeping me around, that would make me very happy,'" Fogler recalled. "'Because even though I knew I was only supposed to be around for one season, I would just be so happy if I was able to continue living on as Luke in this parallel universe. And I know you guys don't always adhere to the comic, so let me know.'"
He continued, "So then here we are today, they were just like, 'Yeah, we'd love to have you.' And it was always really a question of my schedule."
Fogler famously appears as muggle Jacob Kowalski in Harry Potter spinoff series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a role that has so far not conflicted with his commitment to The Walking Dead.
Revealing a spoiler, Fogler also says he's due to return in Season 11, currently being developed remotely amid the coronavirus pandemic that pushed back physical production for up to four weeks.
"It's amazing, because there's time in-between the Fantastic Beasts movies, and I'll be done doing the third one, I'll be finished in July. And then I'll just go and I'll do the rest of July, August, September, the rest of the season on The Walking Dead, for Season 11," Fogler said. "I'm excited, man, this is really cool. I hope I can go for as long as they let me."