Several fan-favorite comic book characters are arriving soon on Season 9 of FX’s “The Walking Dead,” and showrunner Angela Kang is sharing some intel on how the screen versions will differ from their counterparts in the graphic novels.
As TheWrap exclusively reported over the summer, Nadia Hilker will play Magna, who is part of a group that includes several key characters like Yumiko and Luke from the comic books. “None of these characters are literal to the way they are in the comic book, but they’re still true to the spirit of these characters,” Kang said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“One of the things is they feel quite international,” Kang said. “Nadia Hilker, who plays Magna, she’s of German and Middle Eastern descent, and she has a little bit of an accent because she grew up in Germany.
“Eleanor Matsuura, who plays Yumiko, she’s of Japanese descent but she grew up in the U.K., so she has a British accent,” she said. “Dan Fogler is Luke, and he’s sort of a different type than the Luke in the comics, and he brings great comedic chops and warmth and fun to the role.”
Kang also noted that Broadway actress Lauren Ridloff will brings more representation to the show.
“And then we cast the wonderful Lauren Ridloff, who was on Broadway in ‘Children of a Lesser God.’ She’s a deaf actress,” Kang continued. “And then Angel Theory as Kelly, she also has hearing loss, and so both of them sign with each other.
“And we thought it’d be really great to have a group that knows how to communicate in a different way,” Kang said. “All of these characters in some ways know some ASL, and they sign to each other. They’re just so tight. They have leaned on each other.”
Kang explained that the new cast members also introduce the opportunity to explore a whole new set of backstories.
“It’s almost if you followed a parallel story of ‘The Walking Dead,’ that this could be another group you could have followed because they’ve been through a lot of the same kinds of difficulties that our characters have, but they have found each other,” Kang said.
“They found themselves on the road much longer than our characters have, and so they have some different skills, and they’re tough. They’re tough and they love each other. And these actors are really sweet. Our cast who was already on the show absolutely has embraced them, and loves them, and so it’s been really fun for everyone to have this new energy on set.”
Kang added that readers of the comics will likely recognize the introduction of the Whisperers, led by Samantha Morton’s Alpha.
“There will definitely be some pieces that will be very familiar to people who are readers of the comics in terms of the introduction of the Whisperers and that story,” she said, adding that “there will also be some surprises in the way that it plays out.”
Of the Whisperers storyline, Kang added: “we just want to do justice to it because it’s something that fans have been really looking forward to.”
“The Walking Dead” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.