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Seth Gilliam reacts to Father Gabriel's “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” surprise return

Same character, but a new show with a new crew in a new state.

Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, episode 5, “Become.”

He is risen. Or, at least, returned. Episode 5 of The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live featured Andrew Lincoln’s Rick and Danai Gurira’s Michonne on the run from — and then in pursuit of — Pollyanna McIntosh’s Jadis. But while those three characters from the original Walking Dead series were at the forefront of the present-day action, there was another TWD familiar face who surprisingly showed up.

Seth Gilliam’s Father Gabriel Stokes appeared in a series of flashback scenes, showing the annual meetings he was having with his former flame Jadis/Anne. Gabriel served as a sounding board for Jadis as she struggled with her actions to achieve what she saw as a greater good with the CRM. Their last meeting ended with Jadis pulling a gun on Gabriel to eliminate any loose ends from her past. But, ultimately, she could not bring herself to pull the trigger, leaving Gabriel very much alive… and waiting by himself for the next annual meeting — not knowing that Jadis had died trying to take down Rick and Michonne.

What was it like for Gilliam to come back to the franchise, but this time with a new crew and in a new state? And how would he have felt had Jadis gone through with her plan and killed off his character? We spoke to the actor to get his take on the return of Father Gabriel.

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis and Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis and Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me how and when this all came together in terms of you coming back.

SETH GILLIAM: [Co-creator] Scott Gimple gave me a call, and we spoke for about an hour and a half about life and everything else. I thought it was one of those Scott Gimple check-in calls, because he's a very thoughtful guy in that kind of way. He still sends birthday gifts and messages and just calls to check on you and see how you're doing.

So I'm dumping and dumping and dumping, and then after about an hour and a half, he's like, “So anyhow, I have this idea.” And then he told me about his idea of the same time, next year kind of deal between Anne/Jadis and Father Gabriel, and it seemed a really cool way to reintroduce Father Gabriel back into the universe of The Walking Dead.

What was it like to be back on a Walking Dead set, with some familiar faces but also a lot of new faces on the crew — and in New Jersey, not Georgia?

It was cool. It was a different crew except for the wardrobe department, but they were just as eager and had just as much fervor for the material in the show as The Walking Dead crew in Georgia did. I guess it's something infectious about working on that kind of material and knowing the energy that you get from the people at the top — between Scott and Denise Huth and Greg Nicotero— so you want to do your best. So I got there and I was like, “Well, let me not be the guy that screws everything up.”

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis and Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis and Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

How nice was it to get in a car from New York CIty to get to set and not have to jump on a plane?

It was a little trippy. I kept hearing the theme song to The Sopranos going from Manhattan into New Jersey. And it was convenient but weird because though I live in New York, I hardly ever get to work in New York if it's not a play. Pretty much everything I shoot is out of town. So the idea that: Oh, I could sleep in my own bed and there'd be a car to pick me up in the morning and I'd be home within — depending on traffic — a half an hour? It was a little weird. It was like: Did it happen? Because I'm back in my apartment the same day and I'm like, "Was I actually just on set shooting Father Gabriel stuff?"

Did you even see Andy or Danai on set while shooting your scenes?

I did not. I had a text exchange with them, and Andy sent me a very long apologetic thing where I was like, “I really don't need all this information. I appreciate the apology, but thank you.” [Laughs]

What was it like sharing scenes with Pollyanna again?

It was fantastic. I love Pollyanna. I love her process. I love her energy. I love her spirit. I love her creativity. So that was one of the things that got me excited in the conversation with Scott when he mentioned that my scenes would be solely with Pollyanna. I hadn't thought I'd be working with her again, especially not with those characters.

<p>Gene Page/AMC</p> Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis and Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Gene Page/AMC

Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis and Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes on 'The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live'

Did it take any time for you to get back into the character and Gabriel’s headspace or was that pretty seamless?

It took a little time. It'd been a couple of years since I put the contact back in, so it did take a little time, but that mostly was when I was reading the script. Once I actually got to the studios that they'd set up and got into the wardrobe department and to hair and makeup, then it was pretty seamless.

What did you think of the scenes that you guys had together meeting on that log once a year?

Father Gabriel doesn't say as much, it's just that he was there for her. I think those scenes speak volumes in the way in which she's able to share with him what she can't with other people. I think they speak volumes to the connection that they actually had. And it makes sense to me that he would make this kind of deal with her to just check in and make sure that she was still someone who could live with herself. I thought it was very brave on her part and very generous on his. So it was kind of a beautiful little way of seeing these characters dance together again.

How would you have felt if Jadis had gone through with it and they had killed Gabriel off?

I'm not going to lie, I would felt some kind of way. I would have been like, “What? No monologue? No song number before I go? No showing some talents for the next job? That's it?” [Laughs] But I think that Father Gabriel's journey is hopefully not yet done in the universe of The Walking Dead, but if it were, then those would've been fair enough hands to go out with.

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