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WSC Cleveland: Seth Gilliam on Father Gabriel’s redemption

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Gallery- Photo Credit: Victoria Will/AMC

Father Gabriel may not be the most well-liked character, but it’s hard not to love Seth GIlliam. Gilliam talked about Father Gabriel’s road to redemption, his relationship with Rosita and vision impairments in his panel.

“I didn’t think that Father Gabriel would last more than like three episodes. I thought that he was walker bait or he was going to get someone else killed. In fact, I thought he was going to get Tyrese killed. I thought that Tyrese would come to his aid and get bit and die slowly. And then Father Gabriel would have like his throat ripped out the very next episode. So it’s all been a bonus for me, what’s happened to the character,” said Gilliam. “And his journey has been unlike any other character on the show, because it’s been one of having faith and losing faith and not understanding who he is, as opposed to what he is, what he wants to be. So all of those things, all of those inner conflicts have been really fun to play. And, and unforeseen, the one that comes along with ‘well, I didn’t see that one coming’ but let’s, let’s roll with it.”

Part of what makes Father Gabriel such an intriguing character is the fact that we don’t know if we can trust him.

“I think one of the reasons why people were kind of repelled by Father Gabriel at first was because I think he was more a reflection of what their behavior may have been. I think we all would like to imagine ourselves as Rick or Michonne. But what it comes down to is we’re all Father Gabriel,” said Gilliam. “That’s one of the things that I tried to play, the truth of that character. And hope that people get to, in reflection, look back and go, you know what I can understand. I can pity the person who’s in that position, and having to make that choice, and then having the choice and having to live with the choice they made.”

“I remember, the original reacted to my character. And that was they were very apprehensive to trusting Him. They were fearful that he meant the group danger in some way… And in the beginning, he was sketchy because he was a man who was willing to do anything to survive, but wasn’t willing to admit that to himself, which made him even more dangerous. Because he is then even more capable of betrayal. You know, if he’s willing to betray for himself, why would they betray you? So I could understand that the reticence that the fan base had. I think, you know, personally, he probably should have gained more trust sooner than he did, but things unfold for a reason,” Gilliam added.

With Father Gabriel redeeming himself, he clearly made an impact on Rosita.

“I think they made a connection when Rosita had kind of a suicide pact plan to kill Negan at the cost of our own life, and they had a moment in the church, I think, when I connected with her, saw each other, beyond their roles, to the rest of the people around them. Eventually, the snail wins the race. It’s like six years later, you know, it’s a zombie apocalypse, how many choices does she actually have? Seems like she’s made her way through the village,” Gilliam joked. In all seriousness, he believes Father Gabriel will step up to help raise Rosita’s child.

To close the panel, Gilliam talked about acting while blind in one eye.

“It kind of freaks out everybody who’s trying to decide which eye look in when we’re doing scenes, which I always find interesting. I take it as a bit of a superpower that you can have that effect on somebody without speaking. It’s interesting for me because wearing the contact lens makes me blind in my right eye. I can see light and vague shapes, it messes with my depth perception. It puts me a bit of a disadvantage, but I appreciate the effect that it has on my fellow actors in our scenes, said Gilliam.

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