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Michael Cudlitz on his ‘Walking Dead’ Directing Debut and Focusing on Human Connection

Published on November 18th, 2018 | Updated on November 18th, 2018 | By FanFest

Caution: This post may contain spoilers from episode 9×07 of The Walking Dead entitled, “Stradivarious”

This week’s episode of The Walking Dead was directed by former cast member Michael Cudlitz, and we got to sit down with him recently and talk about his experience.

He is very experience in the acting and production world, but in this case his direct experience playing Abraham on the show from season 4 until the first episode of season 7, when Negan brutally kills the brawney, mustache dawning, red haired Army sergeant.

Michael made his return after 2 and a half seasons, and although this time he was behind the camera, he said part of it did feel like putting on a pair of old shoes.

It’s definitely something I’m very proud of, but it’s new and it’ll take some getting used to. I had a great time doing it and i do hope to do it again. I don’t look at it as a career change. I look at it as something already supplemental to what I’m already doing.

He also says he would want the project to be something he is emotionally connected to, just like The Walking Dead is. Michael went on to tell us that he was welcomed very warmly when he got to set for his first directing day.

When I came back the cast and crew welcomed me very lovingly. That was really a special part of coming back. About a third of the crew had changed, and about a third of the cast had changed by the time I got there. So, in a lot of ways, it was very comfortable old pair of shoes to put on, and in a lot of ways it was a new pair of shoes that I had to get used to.

Michael says that when he was paying his way through school he had done a lot of construction, (he actually helped build the facility his current sitcom ‘The Kids Are Alright’ films inside of) and during that time shadowed people in production as well as director. He had even shadowed Greg Nicotero during that time.

You may notice a change in how the show looks during his episode and this season as a whole, and Michael says that the look of the show is changed purposefully by the network, producers and show runner Angela Kang. “She set out to do something a little bit different this year. There’s a lot more movement to the camera and storytelling”He shares.

Michael reveals that in directing, he wanted to help the human connections shine through.

I was given gift of having a episode that had a tremendous amount of not only new character development, but wonderful scenes between characters we already knew. There was a lot of action as well, but very compartmentalized. The story is really one of the episodes that builds audience knowledge with the characters that we’re getting to know. A lot of groundwork was laid in my episode. I’m very proud of being able to tell that story in a very specific way. I feel like I got some wonderful performances out of the actors, old and new.

He says he hopes he brought insight to the characters, and their stories, that most directors don’t because he is so close to the story.

We may see him back directing another episode soon, as he certainly doesn’t count it out. He appreciates all the support he had this time and says “Next time I do it, approach it the same way. Put in the same amount of work and deliver a better episode of whatever I direct next.”

You can check out the full interview with Michael on our Walking Dead Instant Reaction Facebook Live video!

The Walking Dead airs its mid-season finale on Sunday at 9 PM ET on AMC and will return for the second half of season 9 in the new year, and you can catch Michael Cudlitz on The Kids Are Alright on Tuesday nights on ABC.

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as seen on promo graphic