10:29am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'The Walking Dead' Casts Key Comic Character Jesus
AMC's The Walking Dead is poised to introduce another key comic book character.
Luck alum Tom Payne has joined the cast of the zombie drama based on Robert Kirkman's comics, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.
Payne will join the series in a recurring role for season six — with an option for season seven — and play Paul Monroe, aka "Jesus."
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The character was first introduced in issue 91 of the comics. He is a resident at the Alexandria Safe-Zone who moved to the community from another group called the Hilltop Colony. The character is a rare logical man and skilled adviser with a strong sense of morals and values who is well-adapted to the new world.
The character, still alive in the comics, becomes a key member of the group in the comics ahead of the war against The Savors and major villain Negan.
The casting could pave the way for The Walking Dead to introduce Negan — a villain so dastardly that he makes David Morrissey's Governor look like a fluffy bunny.
Showrunner Scott M. Gimple previously told THR that introducing Negan would be "challenging," especially given the character's penchant for f-bombs. "There's a particular story in that arc that I'm very excited for. But because we know where we're going, we have some opportunities to play around with it and put some things in that will lead up to [Negan and Alexandria] in different ways yet fulfill the story Robert told to the Nth degree by utilizing some slightly different approaches. Lineups and timelines and the whole 9 yards."
Star Andrew Lincoln told THR that he would be surprised if Negan didn't appear on the series. "There are astonishingly brilliant and thrilling characters that I am convinced we would be idiots not to meet in our journey; I would be very surprised if we don't see Negan on the horizon in the not-too-distant future," Lincoln said in February. "What struck me, that I've always been excited about, is we're coming into the sixth season of this show ... and it's the medieval part of The Walking Dead comic, where you realize that there are these isolated communities that don't really know other ones exist. But they're all building and forming themselves with their own image. And then there's a clash of those communities. That, to me, is really interesting and when it gets really exciting with all the action. It turns into this insane, near-apocalyptic landscape that we've never seen before. That is almost a reimagining and a restart for society and humanity. And that is such a rich thing to tell."
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Payne, repped by Paradigm, Untitled, Curtis Brown and Felker Toczek, becomes the latest new addition for season six. He joins Corey Hawkins (Straight Outta Compton) as comic character Heath and Nurse Jackie's Merritt Wever as Denise. They join a cast that includes a series-high 18 regulars, including the newly promoted Lennie James (Morgan), Tovah Feldshuh (Deanna Monroe), Alexandra Breckenridge (Jessie Anderson) and Austin Nichols (Spencer Monroe).
The Walking Dead returns Oct. 11 on AMC.