For Conan O'Brien, who has become close with former The Walking Dead star Steven Yeun, tonight's Conan appearance by Yeun's onscreen wife Lauren Cohan was an opportunity to look back at the history of the show, as well as forward to what Cohan would like to see for Maggie in the end. That particular answer -- plus or minus a few minor details -- is something she's given before...and so is the tale of Yeun and fellow star Michael Cudlitz's "death dinner" -- the celebratory sendoff each actor gets on The Walking Dead when their character shuffles loose the mortal coil and they're allowed to leave Atlanta.
Cohan and others have related part of the story before -- that some of the cast serenaded Yeun and Cudlitz with a karaoke rendition of The Backstreet Boys's "I Want It That Way" -- sans the tarmac -- while wearing orange handlebar mustaches, a la Abraham (Cutlitz's character). There were not only some new details tonight, though, but more significantly a behind-the-scenes photo that O'Brien showed off, depicting the group of singers posing with Cutlitz and Yeun after the song.
"It was the moment that I think was still the hardest goodbye we've ever had on the show," Cohan told O'Brien. "I won't even talk about it so much. It's interesting because his onscreen son being back has brought up so many memories for people, of Steve being here. We do these 'death dinners' for everybody, so we'll have sort of a civilized thing, and everybody will give nice speeches. We knew for Steven and for Michael Cudlitz, who left in the same episode, we wanted to do something extra special. As you guy know from your KPop days, you and Steven, he is really into [karaoke]. We basically got together, I think it might have been Danai [Gurira]'s idea, and all the girls sort of thought, 'what's the best way that we could send these guys off?' So we had a party at our producers' house, and we all disappeared to go and get our costumes on and learn the final pieces of our absolutely atrocious dance routine, to slowly re-enter the house one by one, verse by verse, to perform Backstreet Boys's 'I Want It That Way.' Steven was actually crying. We were dressed up as Michael Cudlitz's character with orange mustaches and orange wigs."
You can see Cohan tell the story below.
While the mustaches were clearly meant to celebrate Cutlitz and his character, the t-shirts worn by the Backstreet Abes were designed to elicit a laugh from Yeun.0comments
"That t-shirt is a photo that Steven took, his favorite zombie on the show," Cohan explained, repeating a well-trod concept from prior interviews. "It's a zombie just sparking a cigarette and smoking, which is one of the best things on our set is seeing a zombie with a Dr. Pepper or a zombie vaping or just the most random things that they'll do."