According to The Walking Dead‘s Steven Yeun, Glenn was getting the short end of the stick even before his untimely meeting with Lucille.
Reflecting back on his time spent on the AMC drama, Yeun recently opened up about his experience portraying Glenn Rhee on the zombie drama, specifically how he felt the character was never really given his time to properly shine.
“I’ll be honest with you and put a full disclaimer here: I might not be objective, but I truly feel like people didn’t know what to do with Glenn,” Yeun said in an interview with Vanity Fair. “They liked him, they had no problems with him, and people enjoyed him. But they didn’t acknowledge the connection people had with the character until he was gone.”
After a cliffhanger at the closing moments of the show’s sixth season, the season seven premiere saw Glenn brutally beaten to death at the hands of Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The charismatic villain killed the longstanding hero with a Louisville Slugger named Lucille, and the show’s special effects team completed the homage by replicating the graphic injuries Glenn sustained at that very same moment in the comic book series.
The barbaric death — or publicity stunt as many viewers preferred calling it — left fans reeling, wondering if the show had gone too far. Yeun said he didn’t think the scene was any more graphic than the rest of the gore depicted on the series, but, upon his departure, he was left feeling like Glenn never really properly developed in the grand scheme of things, the character’s arc remaining frustratingly static.
“Internally, it was incredible,” Yeun said. “Externally, it was tough sometimes because I never felt like he got his fair due. I never felt like he got it from an outward perception. I don’t say this as a knock on anything. He always had to be part of something else to legitimize himself.”
According to Yeun, Glenn’s inability to find a niche that differentiated him from the rest of the ensemble cast was reflected in the show’s merchandising, which was sparse when it came to goods bearing the character’s likeness.
“I’d always hear people go, ‘I love Glenn, he’s my favorite character,’ Yeun said. “But the merchandise would go one way. That really might be the market, so I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Why didn’t they make Glenn merchandise?’ But there was a disparity. They didn’t know what Glenn was, and only in his death did they realize, ‘Oh, that’s what he was. That’s the connection I had, and that’s why it hurts me so much to see him die.’”
Returning to AMC for its eighth season in October, The Walking Dead is a production of Skybound Entertainment starring Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peleteir, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Green and Danai Gurira as Michonne.
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