The Walking Dead and Prison Break alum Sarah Wayne Callies nearly gave up acting before she developed a connection with new NBC drama Council of Dads, a tearjerker different from the violent and often bleak apocalypse-set Walking Dead. Callies starred on the AMC zombie drama between its first and third seasons as Lori Grimes, wife of Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and mother to Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith (Cailey Fleming). When promoting the upcoming Council of Dads during the Television Critics Association press tour, Callies said she wanted to participate in a more hopeful show that was lacking in violence:
"I've been waiting for this show for a long time. I hit a point a couple of years ago where I thought maybe I don't want to act anymore, and part of that was because I felt that I had put a lot of violence into the world," Callies told press. "There was a time where the world felt like a relatively safe place, and so to tell stories that were more dangerous and a little bit more bleak felt right."
Callies last appeared on The Walking Dead in 2013. After Lori's death four episodes into Season 3 in "Killer Within," Rick was subjected to recurring hallucinations of his late wife.
"I kept getting letters from fans about, 'My name is so-and-so, and I'm suffering from anxiety and depression, and I'm struggling in the following ways,'" Callies continued. "And I realized I wanted to be a part of something storytelling-wise — whether it was as an actor, director, producer or writer — that left people with the sense that they could do it. They could get through it, they could be there for someone else, they could challenge the parts of themselves they didn't like, they could uplift."
"I was neck-deep in a year where I had a bunch of directing gigs lined up in episodic television, and then I read the script, and the next thing I knew I was on a plane, cancelling jobs and shooting in Savannah," Callies said.
Inspired by Bruce Feiler's best-selling book of the same name, Council of Dads also stars Clive Standen, Tom Everett Scott, J. August Richards, Blue Chapman, Emjay Anthony, Michele Weaver, Thalia Tran, Steven Silver and Michael O'Neill.
"Family takes on a different meaning in this transformative and inspirational new drama when Scott Perry, a loving father of five, has his entire life's plan thrown into upheaval by an unexpected health scare. He calls on a few of his most trusted friends to step in as back-up dads to help guide and support his growing family – just in case he ever can't be there to do it himself," reads the series' official description. "There's Anthony, Scott's oldest and most loyal friend; Larry, his tough-love AA sponsee; and Oliver, his dedicated doctor and wife's dearest friend. Together, they discover that there's more to being a father than anyone could do alone – and more to being a family than they ever thought possible."
Council of Dads premieres Tuesday, March 10 at 10/9c following This Is Us and will air Tuesdays at 9/8c starting March 31. The Walking Dead returns with new episodes Sunday, Feb. 23. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.