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Ezekiel speaks! Khary Payton gives first interview about landing coveted role (Entertainment Weekly)

Discussion in 'The Kingdom' started by Doctor Grimes, Jul 28, 2016.

  1. Doctor Grimes

    Doctor Grimes Not Your Governor
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    First interview with Khary Payton after landing the role of Ezekiel.

    ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I guess it must be nice to finally be able to talk about getting this role, huh?
    KHARY PAYTON:
    Yeah, man. I’m honestly a little freaked out just talking to you. I’ve been diving in the backs of vans and having blankets thrown over my head so that nobody catches a glimpse of me and getting in and out of Georgia. I’ve got a lot of family in Georgia and I didn’t even tell them that I was there, so to have an interview with a reporter is a little unnerving.

    Why don’t you start off by just telling me how you ended up landing the role. What was the whole process like for you?
    The process was relatively simple, honestly. It was essentially a four or five-page monologue that they gave me, so I spent a good 72 hours pretty much by myself cloistered in a cave trying to get everything down. I didn’t audition in front of producers or directors or anything. It was all on tape, so it was just myself and the casting director.

    I feel like I had a connection with this character in a weird way. I always say that when you’re in this acting business, you get a lot of rejection. You get a lot of people telling you no and you’ve got to get up, dust yourself off, and try again, and I feel like in a way Ezekiel fits that same mold where he’s in the hope business. I always say I’m in the hope business. You’ve got to stay hopeful. You’ve got to get up off your behind and try again no matter how many times they tell you it’s not going to work out. Your opinion’s got to overshadow whatever negativity might come your way. In a zombie apocalypse one can find themselves getting down about their situation, but Ezekiel’s not one of those people. He fights with all he’s got to make sure he stays positive and stays joyful. That’s what I love about him.

    Did you know that you were auditioning for Ezekiel at first, or did you not know who the character was?
    It was pretty easy to figure it out. I mean, I knew that I was auditioning for The Walking Dead, and they renamed it in the sides. They changed the name and changed the tiger to a lion, but honestly, it doesn’t take a whole lot of detective work to figure it out.

    I love that they changed the tiger to a lion, as if that would throw people off.
    It was a little weird because when I started reading the sides, I was like, “Wait a minute. Did I read that right? He’s got a lion?” He just kind of starts talking about his lion, you know? There’s no preface! So it took me a couple of reads to realize, okay, yeah, I need to do a little research here.

    How familiar were you with the show or the comic before you got the part?
    I actually didn’t read the comics, but my wife and I have been watching the show for a few years. We kind of got into it maybe three or four years after it started, and so we binged the first three seasons and we’ve been fans of it ever since. So when I got the audition, I’d been busy and I hadn’t caught up with the last half of the last season, so I had to hurry up and catch up and see what was going on.

    I really adore the connection that people have with the show. I’m not a big zombie apocalypse guy, but I think the acting and the writing of the show is just exceptional, and the fact that I happen to be working with Lennie James and Melissa McBride on the show — their characters and their performances are two of the things that really kept me watching the show, so it was really wonderful to have those guys as kind of mentors and hosts introducing me to this world.

    Did you go back and look at all at the Ezekiel in the comics or did you just steer clear of it and focus on the TV incarnation of the character?
    I looked at the comics, but more to just kind of get a feel for the world and everything. I don’t feel like I need follow it exactly. I don’t worry about being affected by it too much. I feel like I live in the moment enough that a little bit of information here or there isn’t going to kill me if they totally go off the rails and Ezekiel becomes a very different version than he is in the comic books. It’s just another reason why I love to do this job, man. It’s awesome.

    So how do you see Ezekiel? Let’s talk about the character himself because he’s certainly an interesting cat when you first meet this dude in the apocalypse.
    He’s in the business of not losing himself to his surroundings. I don’t let things get me down. I brighten the things around me in that it’s a party when you’re going to be around him, and whether it was a party there before it’ll be a party by the time he leaves. I love even his relationship with the zombies themselves. He’s a guy who doesn’t think of them as having a physical disease. It’s more that their joy was robbed from them, and that he’s one of the few people left on earth whose joy hasn’t been robbed, and to him, that’s the difference between the living and the dead. If you’re still human, but you’re letting your joy be taken away from you, you might as well be one of those mindless creatures walking all over. So to him, it’s kind of a weird philosophy of life that he’s developed living in this apocalypse that you don’t let this world turn you into something that you’re not.

    Yeah, he’s a guy with a lot of pomp and circumstance. He seems a little like a nut job maybe at first, but there’s definitely a method to the madness with him, which is what I like so much about Ezekiel.
    Yeah, you first come upon him and you think he’s a little bit out there, and he is a little bit out there. But the truth is that everything about this world is a little bit out there, and if you want to survive in it and if you want to survive on your own terms, you need to preach your philosophy and preach it loudly so that it doesn’t get drowned out by all the crazy.

    We know we’re going to see Carol and Morgan in the Kingdom. What does Ezekiel make of these two?
    That’s a good question. I think he sees potential in them. He sees potential in them for understanding his way of living and spreading this gospel of joy and light in a dark situation. I think he considers his Kingdom a lighthouse, and if you use it the right way, it’ll keep you from crashing on the rocks.

    So let me ask you about Ezekiel’s tiger Shiva. I know you guys are doing some sort of mix of animatronics and CG to bring Shiva to life, so what’s it like for you in terms of working with that?
    It’s just another beautiful way that I get to use my imagination. As far as I’m concerned, Shiva’s as real as the people standing next to me — as Morgan or Carol or any of the other people who move among the Kingdom itself. So I really don’t think of it as CG or mechanic. All I know is that she’s real to me. I’ve done a lot of video games where there’s literally nothing standing in front of me. I’ve done, you know, a lot of voiceovers where there’s literally nothing standing in front of me, I’ve got to make it all up, so this is just another situation where my imagination gets to be used in another context, so no matter how good they bring it to life, it’s already alive in my head.

    Talk about what Shiva means to Ezekiel and how Ezekiel uses Shiva.
    Shiva is the beginning and the end for Ezekiel. She’s one of the reasons that he didn’t lose hope when this whole thing started. She’s this beautiful unique creature in the middle of this dark, dark time, and so she’s beloved, and she’s also a symbol to him of what it means to be different in the context of the world that you’re living in. It’s like she’s a constant reminder every time he looks at her that there’s beauty in the world. She started off as his protector and now he feels like that relationship is reversed and she’s this giant, powerful symbol that he feels a real kinship with and a need to protect. So she’s kind of the end all, be all for him. I think Shiva’s a really appropriate name for her because she’s hallowed in his eyes. She’s holy in his eyes.​

    Source: http://www.ew.com/article/2016/07/28/walking-dead-ezekiel-khary-payton-first-photo-interview

    I love how reverently he speaks about Shiva and the Kingdom. He's already in-character. :yay:
     
  2. gmc_vitamind

    gmc_vitamind Nestled in Rick's Beard

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    It'll be so interesting to see Ezekiel and Carol interact. Both of them use alternate personalities to survive (Suzy homemaker and this kingly gentlemen) so I hope they can see through each other's BS. Khary talked a lot about Ezekiel's joy, which I'm intrigued by, considering that Ezekiel isn't the happiest person in the comics. I'm excited!
     
  3. Gooey Goobert

    Gooey Goobert Relocating to The Kingdom
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    I can't believe the blankets worked. :tdog:

    I love his insights about Ezekiel and Shiva. Somehow this man is making me actually not detest Shiva, which is a spectacular feat.
     
  4. LunaFall

    LunaFall Nabila went all Hershel on us
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    Khary Payton, you are making me love Ezekiel more and more. Writers, please do right by this man.
     
  5. Clutterbuck

    Clutterbuck Finding Bigfoot™
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    He's very thoughtful and eloquent. I like him already. :beardsmile:
     
  6. Jenna Alaki

    Jenna Alaki Fell of the spoiler-free wagon for 716
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    Can't wait to meet ya.
     
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  7. WalkerVoodoo

    WalkerVoodoo Michonne's Shadow
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    Same. This interview sold me on him. I'm praying Ezekiel is a step up from his comic counter part.
     
  8. Truthfully it's love

    Truthfully it's love Life's candy and the sun's a ball of butter
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    Ugh his words are poetic man.

    I see the potential of
    And Comic! Ezekiel & Michonne. In the comic, the two talked in private and could call bullshit on each other's adaptive personalities to survive. I hope they give this seed to Carol because that can possibly solidify different interactions and relationships.
     
  9. Tori

    Tori The New Mrs. Grimes

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    He's made me even more curious about Ezekiel. I really hope the writers don't screw up his character.
     
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  10. lovingdead

    lovingdead The New Mrs. Grimes
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    The part about the walkers having lost their joy literally made me snort laugh. Amazing perspective. This should be interesting. Glad to know more backstory on Shiva cause at first I was like this is hella corny, but we will see.
     
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  11. Danaisbestie

    Danaisbestie Rick's ride or die
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    Same. He seems lovely and already knows his character so well.
     
  12. MamaGrimes

    MamaGrimes 100% Certified Shipper Trash
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    Oh this man...this man...He's incredibly well spoken, a fan of the show, takes his craft seriously and has a terrific interpretation of his character. LOVE HIM already!

    I'm intrigued by his emphasis on joy and how Zeke's interactions with Carol will go, considering her current headspace.

    Season 7 is shaping up!
     
  13. Armte

    Armte Schadenfreude is my Aesthetic
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    Very insightful interview, I was actually apprehensive about the introduction of this character but Khary has got me excited for it.

    Thank you Dalton for not pandering to the crazies and asking any type of Michonne related question based on comic spoilers, no need to feed the beast :dale:
     
  14. vicarious70

    vicarious70 Nestled in Rick's Beard

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    I didn't know what to expect about who they were going to pick to play this character, but Khary Payton is one good looking man, very handsome.
     
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  15. CDCsuzy

    CDCsuzy You will, I will
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    He seems like he is really feeling his role, I'm really excited to see him flesh it out!
     
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  16. box5angel

    box5angel The New Mrs. Grimes
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    What everyone else said. :notlooking: :lol:

    I love how him and his wife were already fans of the show. And they binged watch it and got caught up again. Sounds familiar. :laugh: