Former The Walking Dead star Xander Berkeley, whose treacherous Gregory was killed off in the Season Nine premiere, believes leaving the character “irredeemably douche-y” and not allowing him his redemption did both the story and the character a “great disservice.”
“I think people are always more complex than they are generally allowed to be portrayed in television shows, and in movies,” Berkeley told the Crimson Head Elder Podcast.
“And it is expedient to make them simpler so that people can follow it and not get lost in the muddle. So I get why they are simplified and sometimes unnecessarily so, to keep things moving along and to make it clear for the audience.
“I tend to be of the personal taste to not like to be told how I’m supposed to react to a story or a character so that I can be conflicted, so that I can make up my own mind as an audience member, I like that kind of complexity. But that was never gonna be the case with this character and this show.”
Berkeley discussed Gregory’s potential arc with former five-season showrunner Scott Gimple, who said the unctuous nature of the slimy Gregory was immutable.
“I can remember before I signed on for [my] second season, I was really hoping — and I was excited about it — but I was also excited about the possibility that there might be a redemption after I had fulfilled just about every color of the unctuous rainbow in Season Seven,” Berkeley said.
“So before Season Eight, having our chats with Scott, I said, ‘So, any glimpse of a redemption on the horizon?’ Because, like I just said, ‘I think I’ve played about every color in the unctuous rainbow last season.’ And he said, ‘Well, I think the thing important to realize with the unctuousness of Gregory is that it really is more of a feature than a bug.’ And I had never heard that expression before. And I went, ‘Oh, okay, so no redemption. It’s just, that’s who he is. He’s just irredeemably douche-y.’”
Gregory was hanged by Maggie (Lauren Cohan) following two back-to-back failed assassination attempts, after spending almost the entirety of Season Eight imprisoned in the makeshift jail at Hilltop alongside Savior POWs.
The move to execute Gregory came after Berkeley was made to understand his deposed Hilltop leader would regain his status in the community before meeting his ultimate fate, which Berkeley theorized was hurried because of the looming departures of Andrew Lincoln and Lauren Cohan.
“I think it did the story and the character a great disservice to back him into that kind of one-dimensional corner,” he said.
“And then, ultimately, the whole point of leaving me in the pen and bringing me down and breaking me down to nothing was so, as I was told, to bring him back up to a position of power, to set up — as you would want to — set up a powerful character, a once powerful character, once again before the ultimate demise.”
Berkeley added Gregory’s public hanging, and thus the end of his story, was “like an also-ran in the first episode.”
“So I hope, and I’m glad if it did, get Season Nine off to some start and relieved people that were tired of the character,” Berkeley said. “But I think they were tired of the character, if they were, because they didn’t do anything with it last season.”
Despite his sudden exit from the series, Berkeley understands Gregory being shortchanged in favor of other characters.
“When it comes to writers, it’s a delicate balance. I don’t know what it must be like. I can imagine writing a story to make a film, I’ve never felt like I could imagine what it would be like to balance all these characters and keep it going season after season,” he said.
“And with all humility, I really respect their ability to do it. And I don’t hold any grudges about it. I honestly don’t. At the end of the day, when all is said and done I don’t, because I don’t know how they do it.”0comments
Berkeley has since joined The CW’s Supergirl as Peter Lockwood, father of Agent Liberty (played by The Walking Dead alum Sam Witwer).
The Walking Dead Season Nine debuts new episodes Sundays on AMC.