Tai Freligh interviews actor Jayson Warner Smith from The Walking Dead…
Atlanta native Jayson Warner Smith is an actor in film, television and theatre. He received critical acclaim for his portrayal of the death-row serial killer Wendall Jelks on Sundance TV’s Original Series Rectify, and as a recurring guest star on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Other notable television roles include The Vampire Diaries, NCIS: New Orleans, and One Mississippi. In addition to Thank You for Your Service, Jayson Warner Smith can be seen in the upcoming film American Made, with Tom Cruise also from Universal Pictures. He talked to Flickering Myth’s Tai Freligh about Gavin, his character on The Walking Dead and what we can expect from him in Season 8.
You play Gavin on The Walking Dead. Like many of the Saviours, he’s a real dick. How did you prepare for the role and what has the feedback been on your appearances so far?
Well, if Gavin is a dick then EVERY Savior is a dick. Gavin as far as leaders are concerned is one of the most level headed and compassionate folks in the group. My take on the Saviors is they are no different than any other survivor group other than they have a mafia system of governing themselves. It’s straight out of Goodfellas.
“Business bad? Fuck you, pay me.”
“Had a fire? Fuck you, pay me.”
“The place got hit by lightning? Fuck you, pay me.”
As far as preparing, there really wasn’t anything to do other than learn the lines. Every person I’ve met and gotten to know on the show IS their character. Casting has done an excellent job of finding the actor/actress whose essence fits the role. In S7 I spend all my time hanging with Khary Payton, Lenny James, Kerry Kahill, Cooper Andrews, Carlos Navarro and Joshua Mikel. Every scene is in that same parking lot. We had a lot of time hanging out to chat and stuff. Every one of them is very much what I think they would end up being in a real situation like the pretend one we are in. Now that I’m in S8, I am spending more time back at Sanctuary (as seen in the S8 trailer at the 3:30 mark). Now I’m with Steven Ogg, Josh McDermitt, JDM, Austin Amelio, Lindsley Register, etc. and their personalities are more like who they play. It has been a real lesson in how this biz works.
Most folks hate Gavin because he’s a Savior but then they end up liking him because he’s not a sociopath like most of the others. He has risen to a leadership position because he is loyal and honest, not because he’s a dick.
Do you hear from people in real life (and at conventions) about how much they hate your character?
No. Just the opposite.
Unlike many Saviors, including Negan, Gavin seems to have a conscience. Will this play a role in what happens to him in season 8?
Yes. Very much so.
Will we be seeing more of Gavin in the upcoming season of The Walking Dead and can you give us any dirt on what to expect?
Yes. Lots and lots of action.
How do you survive a zombie apocalypse?
Stay alert. Make alliances carefully. Find Eagle Scouts to team with.
In your heart of hearts, #TeamRick or #TeamNegan?
It doesn’t matter. They are both a pain in the ass to Gavin. If in a “real zombie apocalypse” I’d go with Team Rick as I wouldn’t be worried about him killing me on a whim.
We thank Jayson Warner Smith for taking the time to chat with us here at Flickering Myth. He can be found on social media at the handles below:
Official Facebook: facebook.com/JaysonWarnerSmith
Official Website: www.jaysonsmith.com
Photo Credits: Bjoern Kommerell, AMC
The Walking Dead season 8 is set to premiere on October 22nd and stars returning cast members Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes), Chandler Riggs (Carl Grimes), Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon), Melissa McBride (Carol Peletier), Lauren Cohan (Maggie Greene), Lennie James (Morgan Jones), Danai Gurira (Michonne), Alanna Masterson (Tara Chambler), Josh McDermitt (Eugene Porter), Christian Serratos (Rosita Espinosa), Seth Gilliam (Gabriel Stokes), Ross Marquand (Aaron), Katelyn Nacon (Enid), Austin Amelio (Dwight), Tom Payne (Paul ‘Jesus’ Rovia), Xander Berkeley (Gregory), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan), Khary Payton (Ezekiel), and Pollyanna McIntosh (Jadis).
Tai Freligh is a Los Angeles-based writer and can be found on Twitter.