Father says he ‘never trusted’ the showrunner.
Following a surprising twist that signaled a major character exiting AMC’s The Walking Dead, the star’s father has spoken out. According to him, the actor was surprised by the decision, which he characterizes as a firing.
Spoilers follow for The Walking Dead episode “How It’s Gotta Be.”
In the episode, Carl Grimes, played by Chandler Riggs since the start of the show, was revealed to be suffering from a zombie bite. Riggs’ father wrote a now-deleted Facebook post expressing his frustration with the situation and how it was handled by showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
“Watching Gimple fire my son 2 weeks before his 18th birthday after telling him they wanted him for the next 3 years was disappointing,” he wrote. “I never trusted Gimple or AMC, but Chandler did. I know how much it hurt him. But we do absolutely know how lucky we have been to be a part of it all and appreciate all the love from fans all these years!”
That account squares with Riggs’ own statement to The Hollywood Reporter, which stated flatly that the decision came as a surprise to him.
“I’m taking a gap year right now to focus on acting for a while. Leaving Walking Dead wasn’t my decision,” Riggs said. “I was planning on going to college until I found out. I found out when I was doing rehearsals for episode six back in June. It was quite the shocker for me, Andy and everyone because I don’t think anyone saw it coming. It’s definitely not a bad thing because it has been awesome being on the show but now I get to go and do a lot of other stuff that I haven’t gotten to do before. Scott wanted to meet in person because it was such a big deal. We had just finished rehearsing for a scene in episode six and he wanted to meet with me and my mom and dad and talk about what’s going to happen.”
Gimple has already dispelled any notion that Carl could come back, calling a zombie bite a “one-way ticket.” But it came as a shock to fans of the comic book, since it marks such a drastic deviation from the source material. Carl is still an active (and alive) character in the comic who seemed to be groomed to take over the show if his father, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) eventually exited.
For more, read why an original actor finally left The Walking Dead.
Steve Watts is a freelance writer living in the DC-Baltimore area. You can follow his keen insights on Twitter @sporkyreeve.