Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched episode 2 of season 7 of “The Walking Dead,” titled “Kingdom.”
There’s a new King in “The Walking Dead” — and he has a wild animal by his side.
The second episode finally introduced King Ezekiel — played by Khary Payton —— along with his sidekick, a pet tiger named Shiva.
Payton said he was relieved to finally be able to make his debut. “I’m still getting used to talking to people about it,” admitted Payton on “The Talking Dead.” “I feel weird. I’m still not sure. I feel like a producer’s going to come throw a bag over my head. I don’t know how many times I was thrown in the back of a van. ‘Nobody should see you!’”
The actor recounted his audition, which was the scene he had with Carol. “They told me in the audition it was a lion, because they were trying to throw me off,” he joked. “They said it was about his physicality, but in my mind, it was really about his voice more.”
He said he based the character on his great uncle, who was a security guard. “He was a big, 300-pound guy who spoke really articulately,” said Payton. “He was the base.” An actor who’s done voiceover work in movies like “Teen Titans” and “Transformers,” Payton said he relied on that experience to create King Ezekiel — “my older, avuncular characters,” he said. “He was a nicer Black Manta.”
Working with the tiger on set was “amazing,” said Payton. “It was hard for me. I had to pretend like it wasn’t a tiger. I had to pretend it was a corgi, a Labradoodle. Everybody else was going to get eaten. But I was going to be fine. You pretend it’s not there. She’s a real magic tiger. It throws people off. That’s the genius of King Ezekiel. He knows that’s got this thing there. He pretends it’s no big deal. It’s just an animal.”
Morgan and Carol’s arrival in the Kingdom definitely changed Ezekiel’s perspective and allowed him to open up, says Payton. “I don’t know if he’s confided in anyone in the Kingdom,” he said. “I think his confidantes have probably died. In Morgan and Carol, I think he’s probably looking for that inner circle.”
Give Ezekiel credit for his powers of observation, says Payton — he’s watching everything that happens, including Carol stealing weapons and clothes. “He spends a lot of time standing off observing,” said Payton.
That’s why he ultimately decided to open up to her. “I think it was important that he give a piece of himself to Carol,” he said. “I think he needs her strength. He’s looking for a confidante. In Morgan and also in Carol, he can see that strength. He’s looking for that kind of advisor. And in order for her to bring down that wall, I think he needs to reveal something about himself.”
So why did he stop by Carol’s house at the end of the episode? “He’s trying to get laid!” says Payton. “You come bearing fruit. He put on a different shirt in a apocalypse. You know how hard it is to get another shirt? There’s not like an outlet store nearby.”
News Source : Variety