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Michael Cudlitz Reflects on The Walking Dead and Abraham’s Standout Moment

Fans of The Walking Dead are less than a week away from the absolutely stomach turning and heartbreaking season 7 series premiere and they’re not the only ones getting nostalgic about days gone by.  On Sunday, AMC aired a special titled The Journey so Far that let the cast members talk about key moments in the first six seasons of the series as well as some reactions to Negan and what his presence means for the future.  Entertainment Weekly has also been providing fans snippets of interviews with various cast members about some important moments to them and one of them was Michael Cudlitz.

For Abraham, the standout moment really is sort of a standout lie and the moments that follow it. When Eugene was first introduced to the show, during a powerfully dark time in Abraham’s life, he served as a shining glimmer of hope, a reason for Abraham to move forward.  Eugene needed, desperately, to get to Washington D.C so that he could save mankind and Abraham was going to make it happen.  As we all know, Eugene lied about who he was and that lie was the straw that broke the camel’s back in a lot of ways.

EW: So let’s talk about Abraham’s reaction to Eugene’s big lie that he’s not actually a scientist. We get both the calm and then the storm, don’t we?
Michael Cudlitz: It starts with the repeated failure of Abraham trying to get this mission going and make sure that he gets Eugene to where he needs to get to him. So while Abraham is at his most frayed and very much at the end of his rope because he’s barely keeping a handle on it, Eugene lets out this admission that it’s basically all a lie.

He goes on to say that the moment is so heavy because people lost their lives in an attempt to get Eugene safely to DC so that he could, quite frankly, save mankind. Sacrifices were made, attempts failed and new ones were quickly created, and it was all because of a man’s tall tale. In addition, he brings up that Eugene picked that time to say that he was smarter than Abraham; and that was it.

EW: And that’s the snapping point. Because up until that point, it looks like Abraham’s mind is in another place.
Michael Cudlitz: He’s trying to process everything that’s gone on. It’s like, “What, are you f—ing kidding me?” He realizes that this is the truth and he’s really just putting everything together in his head until he says that one specific piece of dialogue, and then everything turns to anger and gets unleashed on Eugene. It’s literally like, “How dare you, you motherf—er?!”

One thing about the cast of The Walking Dead is how close knit they are, it’s not just actors/actresses coming on set to read lines together; they’re a family.  In some scenes, those relationships make the acting a lot easier, real emotion can come to light, but in the scenes where disagreements happen and turn physical, it’s harder to gather how they find the emotion to press forward. Michael answered this question as well, and it makes a lot of sense.

EW: How do you transition from such a quiet place to immediate pure and utter rage?
Michael Cudlitz: I think it’s simmering. You push it down. The strength of the show is that the circumstances and the reality of the show is so heightened, but it has to be grounded in a very real place or else it doesn’t work. Because we have so many “ridiculous” things that we do, if it’s not anchored in reality, I don’t think it’s believable at all. Then you wind up transcending graphic novel and going into “cartoon,” and the show is anything but cartoon.

As fans know, the pair made up and their relationship only grew stronger after the dust settled; they’ve been a pillar of strength for one another and even in moments of anger following their fight, their concern for one another didn’t dissipate totally. Eugene found strength in his own truth, thanks in part to Abraham and Abraham found forgiveness and trust again in the trials through their relationship.

EW: What’s so fascinating about this scene is that while Eugene lied to Abraham to save himself, as we see in these flashbacks that also appear in the episode, he really saved Abraham with that lie as well.
Michael Cudlitz: Absolutely. He saved his life and it’s not lost on Abraham over the course of the series, and that is why there is such an affinity. You can go back even to when they hadn’t made up yet when Eugene goes to drink the water on the road that was left by Aaron and Abraham smacks it out of his hand because protecting him is so ingrained in him that it has become a part of him. And he’s not sure anymore at that point if it’s just a habit or if he actually has genuine feelings for this person. And as we realize through the series and up until last season’s finale, he absolutely does.

The relationship between Abraham and Eugene is one of the most influential in season 6 and while their lives are on the line as they kneel in front of Negan, we can only hope that both of them live to see another day; the show wouldn’t be the same without their friendship, both on and off screen.

Entertainment Weekly’s TWD special edition is a must have for any fan of the show, and with the loss of (more than) one character on the horizon, these interviews are made all the more special.

Season 7 of The Walking Dead premieres October 23rd at 9/8c on AMC.

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