Fans of AMC's The Walking Dead can be downright religious about the show. This week, they have a chance to meet the one everyone calls Jesus.
Tom Payne, who plays newest fan-favorite Paul Rovia a.k.a. Jesus, will appear at MegaCon, one of the Florida's largest comic book conventions. It returns Thursday for four days of geekery. The celebration of all things comic book, fantasy and horror at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center is expected to draw more than 80,000 fans.
Stocked with celebrities, artists and cosplayers, the lineup includes Marvel creator Stan Lee; original Batman dynamic duo Adam West and Burt Ward; a Star Trek 50th anniversary celebration with William Shatner, Nichelle Nichols and George Takei; a Hogwarts reunion of Harry Potter alums; and actors from Stars Wars and Doctor Who. The Walking Dead's Lennie James, who plays Morgan Jones, will also appear.
Payne recently talked with the Times about joining The Walking Dead family.
Were you a fan of the show or comics before joining the cast?
No, I hadn't actually read the comics or watched the show before. I saw the pilot because I had worked with Andrew Lincoln before and was curious to see him again. Now I'm all caught up.
When I got the part I had a brief look at the character in the comics. The show is close to the comics, but it's different. I put trust in Scott Gimple (The Walking Dead showrunner) to help me portray the character. It's more than just learning that character from the comics. I had to go back to doing the qualities of what they originally wanted with the character in the show.
The cast, crew and even fans are part of this huge family. What was it like to join this group of actors who have been a part of this show for years?
They were really amazing. The cast and crew are a real family, and they're a family with the fans. It's a very precious thing for everyone working on the show and a unique experience.
If a new character is coming in, it's hard because that means other characters have left. It can be a period of change for everyone. I'm not used to it yet.
I hadn't worked in about a year, so when I came on I was a little bit nervous because I was getting back into the swing of things. They were just so nice with me and made me feel comfortable and it shows on screen. That's why the show does so well as it does.
I've never worked on a show like this, and I'm not sure I will again.
You've never been to Florida. Are you able to stay a while and be a tourist?
I think I'm going to stay until next Wednesday. My girlfriend will join me and we are going to Universal and Disney after the convention.
Have you been to other comic book conventions before?
I was in Ottawa (Comic Con) last weekend and in Calgary (Comic & Entertainment Expo) before. But I think (MegaCon) is the biggest one I've done so far. I'm excited.
Do you have a favorite scene you've shot?
I do actually. I'd say taking everyone to the Hilltop and introducing the audience to a new environment was a favorite. I liked seeing the press pictures of me and the cast from that scene.
Norman (Reedus) and Andrew (Lincoln) really enjoyed filming that silly first episode with Jesus. (Jesus) is playing a part on top of himself in that episode. He's not really being himself, so it came across in a very fun way.
It was nice to be the person to inject a different energy into show.
What are you most excited for in the coming season?
I'm excited for the show to take a different direction. It's been about following around Rick's group for a long time now. With the introduction of the Hilltop and new characters, the world is changing and becoming bigger.
The dynamic is changing. My character is changing things a little bit as well. It's a new way of dealing with the world. Like Jesus said in the show, "You're world is about to get a whole lot bigger."
Contact Chelsea Tatham at [email protected] or (813) 226-3408. Follow @ChelseaTatham.