The Walking Dead's Seth Gilliam on Death Threats: Some Viewers Can't Separate "Fiction From Reality"

The Walking Dead star Seth Gilliam recalls the 'surreal' experience of receiving death threats [...]

The Walking Dead star Seth Gilliam recalls the "surreal" experience of receiving death threats from viewers unhappy with his character Father Gabriel, saying some fans can't "see fiction from reality." Gilliam joined the zombie drama in its fifth season as a cowardly priest whose selfish actions at the onset of the apocalypse doomed his congregation, later falling in with the group of survivors led by Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln). In Season 5 episode "Spend," Gabriel privately told then-Alexandria leader Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) that Rick's group are not "good people," warning her behind closed doors: "You made a mistake letting in the others."

In the years and seasons that followed, Father Gabriel evolved into one of Rick's most trusted allies and a valued member of Alexandria's team of leaders. Now heading into the eleventh and final season of The Walking Dead, Gilliam recalls the scorn directed at him over Gabriel's past actions:

"Over the years, what's been surreal to me is sometimes people not being able to see fiction from reality, and assuming I was Father Gabriel and not Seth Gilliam," the actor told Digital Spy. "When they question the choices the character made on the show, and started to send me death threats and stuff. That was surreal."

Gilliam isn't the only Walking Dead star to receive death threats: Josh McDermitt, Austin Amelio, Alanna Masterson, and Laurie Holden are just some of the actors who faced backlash during their time on the show. In 2017, Gilliam explained why his character on The Walking Dead was unlike roles on series like Oz and The Wire:

"It was kind of different for me because it's unlike any other role that I've played. It's had such an impact on the audience," Gilliam told Entertainment Weekly. "It took a little getting used to, the death threats, and realizing they were coming from 13-year-old boys in the basement of their Wisconsin home, as opposed to people who were really meaning me harm. That had a profound impact on me, on just how seriously people are involved with the characters in the show."

"At first it was a little uncomfortable because every actor wants to be appreciated for what they're doing — even guys who play bad guys," Gilliam said at the time. "Yeah, you want to dislike the bad guys, but you want to like the actor because he's making you dislike the bad guy. And for a while, I felt the lines were kind of blurred because it's so personal. It was like, 'Well, wait, I didn't write these lines. This isn't me improvising on set. This is the way the plot is going.' So, it took a little getting used to, and I had to take a little distance."

Gilliam and Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron, next appear opposite first-time Walking Dead guest star Robert Patrick in "One More" when it premieres Sunday, March 14.

Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. New episodes of The Walking Dead extended Season 10 premiere Sundays at 9 pm ET/8c on AMC.