The Walking Dead has one of the most devoted fanbases in all of television, and most of the time that's a cool thing. But sometimes that fandom goes way too far. Like when actors get death threats over what their characters do.
"It was kind of different for me because it's unlike any other role that I've played," he said of the reaction he got when Gabe betrayed Rick (Andrew Lincoln) back in Season 5. "It's had such an impact on the audience. It took a little getting used to, the death threats, and realizing they were coming from 13-year-old boys in the basement of their Wisconsin home, as opposed to people who were really meaning me harm. That had a profound impact on me, on just how seriously people are involved with the characters in the show."
He said it was tough to be so hated because he — like most actors — wants to be loved, and people were conflating him and the character. "That actor love me, love me, love me thing that I think all actors have — I had to kind of put that on the back burner and realize that I still had a job to do, whether I was being loved or not."
He also said he'd probably make more money at fan conventions if he played a "lovable character," but it's cool because he gets to have great conversations about acting with fans. His fortunes may change, though, as Father Gabriel has evolved from a coward into a loyal and respected member of Rick's group.
He's not the only Walking Dead actor to deal with death threats — Josh McDermitt, who plays Eugene, deleted his social media earlier this year after being cyberbullied over his heel-turn Season 7 story arc.
"Don't send me death threats because I'm going to send all that s--- to the cops. I'm just sick of it," he said at the time. "You can hate Eugene. I don't care. I'll argue that you're wrong, but you can think whatever you want. But when you start saying you hope I die? I don't know if you're talking about Josh or Eugene."
If you're a 13-year-old boy reading this in the basement of your home in Wisconsin and you're thinking about wishing death on an actor in the comments of an Instagram post, maybe consider not doing that.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Sunday, Oct. 22 at 9/8c on AMC.