Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the premiere of Season 7 of “The Walking Dead.”
What was most shocking about the premiere of “The Walking Dead” was that Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) claimed not just one victim, but two — including Glenn (Steven Yeun), who had escaped death once before. But this time, he couldn’t crawl his way out under a dumpster.
In an interview with AMC.com, Yeun explained that his character’s death, which was already planned in the graphic novels on which the AMC series is based, was an iconic moment that was necessary. “For me, personally, I didn’t want anyone else to take that death and I don’t think anyone intended to give it to anyone else, to be quite honest,” he says.
Filming the scene, he says, was a powerful experience. “I don’t know what it feels like to die, but it was a very unique experience [to film] and a pretty affective moment for me, too,” he says. “After I took some steps back from it, I really started to process what it was, what it meant, and what it means for me in terms of how much I might have been connected to Glenn.”
Yeun says that he found out that Glenn was going to be killed off at the beginning of Season 6 from showrunner Scott Gimple, and that holding onto that secret proved harder than he expected. “It got gnarly near the end because when you mentally cross that threshold and say to yourself, ‘OK I’m done with this particular chapter now,’ to then hold onto it for another full year is pretty rough,” he says.
Glenn’s death actually came after Daryl attacked Negan after he’d killed Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), and Norman Reedus admitted on “The Talking Dead” on Sunday that Daryl would be struggling with his guilt. But Yeun says he shouldn’t feel any blame. “I think Daryl did what anybody would have done in that moment – which is fight back – and it just happened to be that it came with other ramifications,” he says. “I suppose Daryl is the type of person that would shoulder that type of blame. That seems like something that could be in his wheelhouse to feel, but I don’t know if he’s supposed to be blamed for that. That doesn’t seem right to me. He’s a good person and I don’t think he likes to live with things like that.”
Glenn’s final words, “Maggie, I’ll find you,” Yeun says, were a callback to another time. “I tried to play it as sincere as you possibly could in a moment where you are just glitching,” he says. “I think Glenn was fighting to find words… Maybe it was a subconscious thought or maybe something he held onto for a while that was his driving force, and when he got smashed in the head, it just brought it to the forefront.”
The hardest part of the whole experience, says Yeun, is saying goodbye to the cast and crew. “You’ve worked so closely with them, you’ve learned so much and you’ve shared so many incredible experiences,” he says. “What’s great is that it also formed such amazing bonds that it kind of transcends physically going to work there, but I am going to miss Atlanta and the crew. It was just a wonderful experience.”