‘The Walking Dead’ Star on the Moment He Learned of His Character’s Death: ‘It Was Devastating’

As shocked fans continue to reel, actor says he experienced the blow months ago

Spoiler Warning: A massive midseason finale death is revealed below. Read on at your own risk. 

As fans of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” continue to express their shock and dismay over the major character death depicted in Sunday night’s Episode 9, the actor himself said he got the bad news months ago.

“It was devastating,” Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl Grimes, told Entertainment Weekly. “The show has been such a big part of my life. I had gone to school and done the show and dedicated so much time and effort into the show that it was crazy that that was going to be the decision.”

What’s more, Riggs — along with his father and other actors on the show — didn’t see it coming, mainly because Carl is currently alive and well in the comic book series on which the show is based.

“I was so excited to do the story lines from the comics,” the 18-year-old actor told EW. “But I guess it does make sense for Rick to kind of have to adopt this humanitarian lifestyle that Carl has an outlook on right now.”

“Walking Dead” showrunner Scott Gimple gave Riggs the bad news in June, Riggs recalled in the interview. It’s a decision, according to an angry social media post by Riggs’ own father, that deeply “hurt” the young actor — and came just days ahead of his June 27 birthday.

Riggs was more diplomatic than his dad about Gimple’s decision, telling EW that his character’s death makes more poignant the lesson he wants to leave with his father Rick (played by Andrew Lincoln): “to figure out a way to make Rick not want to kill Negan.”

Still, Gimple’s news was a shock to his system — once he actually believed the show’s top exec.

“I honestly thought he was joking the first time he said it,” said Riggs. “Scott has a pretty good sense of humor and we joke around a lot. So I thought he was joking. When I realized he wasn’t, it was quite the shocker, because I was really looking forward to the story arc from the comic book with another group, the Whisperers. Carl has a really, really cool interaction with one of the members of that whole group and I was super excited to do that whole story line. But in terms of typecasting and my career, it’s the best move for me. For my acting career in general, it’s definitely not going to end up being a bad thing. I’m super stoked to be doing bigger things and other things I haven’t had a chance to do before.”