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“There’s definitely something going on with this guy; he’s definitely haunting.” That’s how The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple describes the prison’s newest resident, Bob Stookey (Larry Gilliard Jr.).
The character first surfaced in the season-four premiere after Daryl found the former Army medic traveling alone. In two episodes, the character is eager to prove himself as he battles demons from his past, including alcoholism. Bob’s struggle with booze is a storyline straight from the Robert Kirkman comics on which the series is based, where Bob is loyal to the Governor and ultimately saves the eye-patched villain’s life following a brutal encounter with Michonne.
“He’s definitely got issues; he has things he’s struggling with, and it could be coming out in different ways,” Gimple says of how Bob’s small-screen counterpart compares. “We certainly saw that in the first episode. Bob is going to be evolving, and we’re just going to find out more and more about him.”
Within a week or two of his arrival, a mysterious flu surfaces to eliminate numerous residents at the prison, someone is drawing walkers to the fences to force the community from their home and there’s a murderer among them who took out Karen and David.
The Hollywood Reporter turned to Gilliard to get the scoop on the stranger and just how much he can be trusted.
In the comics, Bob Stookey is a conflicted guy. How similar would you say your version of this character is compared to his comics counterpart?
I’m coming to the character fresh, without the knowledge of Bob in the comic. I’m trying to create a different and fresh character who is dealing with the same issues the comic book character is.
How much should we trust him?
Should we trust anyone in this world? It’s hard to trust anybody. You never know where people are coming from. Rick [Andrew Lincoln] is always challenged with, “Should I let people in or not?” Daryl [Norman Reedus] actually is the one who brought this guy in. Early on, you see he’s looking for his shot when he comes out and asks for a chance to “earn my keep around here” and to prove himself. No one really knows him, which is hard in this world. You’re always skeptical about people because you don’t really know people’s backgrounds, and you can’t look them up.
Was he part of another group? Our theory is he’s working for the Governor (David Morrissey).
He talks about where he comes from, what he’s dealt with before Daryl found him. I will say he was part of another group before he met up with Daryl and [the group at the prison] and before he was solo. I can’t say much — all I can say is he ended up solo.
We know he’s a doctor and former Army medic. Considering the flu outbreak, will he use his training to help contain the virus?
Yes, you will see him using that training. The question is if he can potentially be helping or hurting [the group].
Where’s Bob’s moral compass?
At the heart of Bob, he’s a good person, but he’s battling demons and sometimes the demons get the best of you. That’s another thing that I like about the character, and what I get to do as an actor is to portray someone who is battling things and show his human side, because no one is born bad.
Someone murdered Karen and David in the second episode, walkers are being drawn to the prison and it all happens after Bob arrives. Is it fair to think Bob is involved?
It’s fair to expect it. He’s new and all these things are happening as he arrives. He’s only been there a week and all this stuff is happening, so it’s fair to suspect him.
The group is divided and those fences can’t keep the walkers out for long. How long can they stay at the prison, and what kind of role could Bob have when those walls do come down?
Bob has been a loner, and he knows how to handle himself. Of [everyone at the prison], he’s probably the most prepared if anything happens. He’s a survivor and he’s survived alone.
The Governor has a vendetta against several people at the prison. What will it look like when he finally comes face-to-face with Rick and/or Michonne again? How bloody can we expect that to be?
It’s going be ugly. There are going to be quite a few shocking moments. It’s something that’s been building over a season, and he lost at the end of season three. So he’s coming back with a vengeance. Everybody’s trying to survive, and he’ll do whatever it takes to survive.
Is there anyone within the prison that Bob could bond with?
Maybe Michonne [Danai Gurira], but that remains to be seen.
Do you think Bob can be trusted? Hit the comments below with your thoughts. The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC. Stay tuned to THR‘s The Live Feed after every episode for our Walking Dead dissections with the producers.
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