'The Walking Dead': Who is Beta?

The latest notable character from The Walking Dead comic books will make the jump to the television series with Sons of Anarchy star Ryan Hurst playing Whisperer Beta, it was learned Monday.

Beta is the towering seven-foot-something-tall number two and fiercely protective bodyguard to Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton), who emerges as a major threat in his own right during the Whisperer War. A cult compromised of barbaric nomads, the Whisperers camouflage themselves in "human leather" — the skinned flesh of walkers — allowing them to both move safely among the dead and deceive the living.

TWD beta
(Photo: Image Comics)

He's unique in that he is vehemently opposed to removing his flesh mask and showing his true face, slaying anyone who would dare to even attempt to remove it.

Beta's "secret identity" would later be revealed to be — spoiler — a well-known NBA player who once appeared in a movie and headlined a series of car commercials. While he was ultimately recognized in-universe, his real name was never divulged.

Typically wielding a pair of over-sized knives, Beta is a dangerous and merciless foe who dwarfs even the sizable Negan. The two would act as arch-foes following Negan's aborted prison sentence, ferociously clashing and ultimately robbing each other of the one thing they prize the most.

Shortly after his first appearance in the series, Beta claims the life of a main player — he guts this character, leaving them to be eaten down to the bone by a horde of walkers — and brings Alexandria the biggest threat of its existence.

The Whisperers mark an end to the peacetime experienced by the survivors after Negan is dethroned as Savior leader and imprisoned, and the new enemy group go on to bring the series one of its most shocking reveals with a series of gruesome slayings. The villains will make their long-awaited live-action debut in The Walking Dead Season Nine, but will be "remixed" from their comic book counterparts:

"We'll go into a really great storyline that people are anticipating, called the Whisperers," new showrunner Angela Kang said on The Walking Dead Season Nine preview special.

"If you're a fan of the comic you know exactly what that means, although the way we do it may not be exactly the way it goes in the comic — we always remix things — and if you don't know what I'm talking about, it's better to learn as you go along."

"The Whisperers are badass, we're excited. That's a formidable foe," Negan star Jeffrey Dean Morgan told ET during San Diego Comic-Con. "They're definitely, I think, more screwed up than Negan. Negan's a bit of a mess, but these guys take it to a whole 'nother level, the Whisperers, so I think it's kind of exciting."

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The Walking Dead returns Sunday, October 7 on AMC.