“The Walking Dead” left viewers with several big cliffhangers when it aired its midseason finale, “Made to Suffer,” Sunday night on AMC. But even with fans wondering the fate of characters like Daryl and Merle, they can at least rest easy knowing Tyreese has finally been introduced.
It took a great deal of effort to keep the casting of “The Wire” alum Chad L. Coleman a secret until it was announced last month, but the long-anticipated reveal of Tyreese was worth the wait. It remains to be seen whether he’ll resist joining forces with the Prison in Rick and his band of survivors’ upcoming battle against The Governor and Woodbury — and whether or not he’ll serve as Rick’s second-in-command like he did in the comics — and Coleman wants viewers to not have the answers to those questions for as long as possible.
Following the premiere of “Made to Suffer,” Coleman held a conference call with journalists to discuss the final eight episodes of Season 3, which will air when “The Walking Dead” returns in February. He revealed Tyreese will only appear in five of those eight episodes, but that he’ll be a major presence the rest of this season. However, he wouldn’t reveal exactly what kind of presence it would be during the call.
When asked whether Tyreese’s relationship with Rick will be similar to the one in the comics, Coleman answered, “That’s a dangerous question. I can say, cliffhanger, but they’re forced to survive on some level.” The same goes for Tyreese and Michonne’s relationship. “I couldn’t give you one iota about that. We’ve got a cliffhanger to the third power,” Coleman teased.
“There is as much that will surprise me as it will surprise you,” the actor promised. “It’s going to be juicy and awesome for all parties involved.”
Coleman did seem to loosen up a bit when he was asked if we’ll see Tyreese and Carol get a little frisky. He started laughing and answered, “To be continued. Cliffhanger cliffhanger cliffhanger. I, Chad Coleman the actor, would love that. Is that where we’re going? I don’t know. I’ll put that out there.”
Tyreese in the comics and Tyreese in “The Walking Dead” TV show will be similar in spirit even if they don’t serve quite the same roles. Coleman admitted he isn’t well versed in the comics because showrunner Glen Mazzara told him that they’ll keep him as up-to-date as he needs to be. Because of that, his take on Tyreese will stand on its own.
“I would say the humanity of the man is very much akin to what was done in the graphic novel,” Coleman said. “I believe his kind of lack of skills as a rifleman is very much a part of it. His desire to protect and his desire to abstain from egregious violence, like I said, his humanity, his strong sense of family — those are things that are resonating for me in playing this role.”
Coleman landed the role of Tyreese because series creator Robert Kirkman was a big fan of his work in “The Wire,” and it turns out that Kirkman contacted Coleman’s agent about having him join “The Walking Dead” before Coleman even knew the series was interested.
“Unbeknownst to me, my agent had been speaking to Robert Kirkman for a little while about the possibilities of me playing this role, so whenever you have the creator kind of pulling your card and saying he wants you to be a part of it, you’re in a pretty good position,” he said.
As to whether any of Tyreese’s backstory from the graphic novels will be incorporated into the next eight episodes, Coleman didn’t seem to know, but he did tease his character’s dark side. He also promised plenty of epic, zombie-killing Tyreese scenes because, as Coleman puts it, “The man has a hammer and he knows how to use it.” He also admitted that Tyreese can see something special in Carl, and that storyline might come into play later on.
All those smaller plot points aside, the biggest question surrounding Tyreese’s storyline is how he will respond to finding out he’s in the middle of a war between the Prison and Woodbury. When we put that to Coleman, he admitted, “That’s a loaded question.”
“You’ll be having the same experience that Tyreese is having: Wide-eyed and discerning and just taking it all in, trying to process it and trying to find a safe haven,” he said. “That’s about as much as I can give on that. You’ll be on the edge of your seat.”
“The Walking Dead” returns to AMC February 10 at 9 p.m. ET.