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Chandler Riggs on 'The Walking Dead' Carl's death: "It's bittersweet"

Posted Thursday, February 22, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

And then there were four.

"The Walking Dead," where carnage is the norm, the pending death of Carl Grimes this Sunday leaves only his father Rick Grimes, laconic tough guy Daryl Dixon, quixotic fighter Morgan Jones and female warrior and cookie baker Carol Peletier from season one.

Chandler Riggs, who graduated Etowah High School last year, lived his entire adolescence as Carl on the most popular cable drama on TV. His character survived two gunshots (one through his right eye), placed a bullet in his mom's head to keep her from becoming a zombie, consumed a monstrous container of chocolate pudding and roller-skated with his girlfriend Enid.

A "walker," as zombies are called on the show, did end up biting him in the side during episode six, but he had enough time to write good-bye letters and bid most of his closest friends and family farewell during this Sunday's episode.

"It's really unfortunate to have to leave, but it's great because I get to go and do films and TV show s and other stuff I haven't gotten to do before," said the 18-year-old actor during a phone press conference this week. "It's bittersweet."

Over 30 minutes, he covered everything from his favorite moment on the show to what he plans to do next:

How he found out about Carl's death: "I really didn't find out until we were doing rehearsals for episode six [when Carl and Siddiq are in the woods and tangle with walkers.]. It was definitely a surprise to me and everyone on the cast and crew. It was something I didn't expect... It was weird filming that scene."

How he felt about his final episode: "I was very happy with the way Carl ended up going out. After reading the script, it made me feel a lot more comfortable with it and really excited to show off what I can do in this last episode... It sums up Carl as a whole. He knows there's something more than just killing and killing. There has to be some hope for Judith and Maggie's baby and everyone."

On Andrew Lincoln, who played his dad the entire run: "I definitely learned so much from him over the years. It was such a joy to work with him. We had so much chemistry on and off screen. I hope we can do it again."

On Michonne's character: "Before Enid came long, the only person he really opened up to was her. The same goes for her. She hadn't told anyone about her kids and what happened to her when everything started. There was a definite mother-like bond between Carl and Michonne."

The final scene he had to shoot: In this Sunday's episode, he gives advice to his little sister Judith in the tunnel. Apparently, the producers needed more footage and had him return two months later to re-shoot that scene.

On living a normal life in the Woodstock area: "I lived there my whole life. No one in school really cared that much that I was on the show. I was able to live a normal life, then work for a bit. It wasn't a big deal. My teachers and principal were super supportive. They had my back."

His academic pursuits: "I was planning to go to University of Georgia but when I found out I wasn't going to be on the show, I switched gears... If I had gone, I would have majored in sociology. AP Psych was my favorite class ever. I love that kind of subject matter." He has moved to Los Angeles and is now focusing on acting while taking on-line classes.

His upcoming two film roles which are nothing like Carl: "Inherit the Viper" where he plays a white trash, redneck kid with a mullet. In "Only," he will play a murderous psychopath.

Big auditions: "I auditioned for Spider-Man and Han Solo, all those big movies. I would love to do something like that. It would be awesome now that I have a lot more free time."

His musical interests: "I produce electronic music. My influences are people like Flume, Porter Robinson, Skrillex, big names like that." (He has released a song under the name Eclipse.)

Favorite scene: "Episode 5, season four when Carl and Rick are mowing down walkers.  Labor laws restricted kids under 14 using firearms. On set, that night, we shot this season on my 14th birthday. Andy handed me a machine gun. It was so much fun to go at it and just shoot a bunch of walkers like a video game!"

The hat he wore the whole time from Rick: "There is definitely more than one hat. I got to keep one of the originals Andy wore from season one, which was cool."


"The Walking Dead" returns for second half of season 8, 9 p.m. Sunday, AMC


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.