Exiting ‘The Walking Dead’ Star “Caught Off Guard” by Latest Major Death

The actress behind one of The Walking Dead’s latest ten casualties admits she was surprised to learn her six-season tenure with the show was coming to an end. “I got a phone call from [showrunner Angela Kang] about two weeks before I shot the episode,” exiting Tara star Alanna Masterson told EW. “I was caught off guard for sure, but also excited for what the future holds. Tara has been extremely fun to bring to life.”

When asked how the experienced and capable Tara was caught off guard and captured by Alpha (Samantha Morton) and the Whisperers, Masterson joked the interim Hilltop leader was “probably taking a power nap.”

“It was really fun to explore that side of Tara,” Masterson added of taking on a leadership role at Hilltop following first the exit of Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and then the mid-season death of Jesus (Tom Payne). “I wish we had gotten to explore that more, but I’m excited to see where the story goes from here.”

The star, who boarded The Walking Dead early on during its fourth season in 2013, remembers her last day on set as being “really nice” despite Tara’s looming death at the hands of the Whisperers, who erected a gruesome border marking Whisperer territory with the decapitated and subsequently reanimated heads of victims abducted from the fair.

“It was freezing cold and we were all huddled around talking and laughing,” Masterson recalled. “The crew is my family, and I’m going to miss them terribly. But we got to get a few last-minute jokes in before I said goodbye.”

What will she miss the most? The cast and crew. “They’ve become my home away from home, and I will forever cherish the bonds we formed,” she said. “This show is impossible to make, and day after day we did it. I did it for 6 years, and I will miss the heat, the hours, and the challenges.”

Masterson’s Tara was the fourth-longest surviving character still in play on The Walking Dead, behind only Norman Reedus’ Daryl and Melissa McBride’s Carol, who each started with the show in its first season, and Danai Gurira’s Michonne, who joined in Season Three.

The Walking Dead is next hit with a ferocious blizzard when it premieres its Season Nine finale, “The Storm,” Sunday, March 31 at 9/8c on AMC.

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