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IronE Singleton loves being T-Dog on ‘The Walking Dead’; Sarah Wayne Callies’ take on Lori

IronE-Singleton-325

OBVIOUS SPOILERS HERE IN CASE YOU STILL HAVEN’T SEEN THE LATEST EPISODE

UPDATE on 11/6/12 at 11:59 p.m.: I posted this item 35 hours after the show aired, presuming enough time had passed so I didn’t have to worry about spoiling things for folks. But apparently, that wasn’t enough time for many of you. Down the road, I’ll be more careful with headline wording and such. I didn’t realize how rabid (ahem) you fans are about spoilage!  With “Idol,” I was able to talk openly about eliminated contestants the next day. So clearly, with scripted show, the lead time is a bit longer.

Dallas, GA actor IronE Singleton said he enjoyed every single day on the set of “The Walking Dead” until zombies ravaged his T-Dog character Sunday night.

“When I was first cast, I thought I’d do two, maybe three episodes,” Singleton said in a press conference Monday. “It ended up going on into a third season. How magnificent and miraculous is that? I’m so very thankful for that. I was thankful he was able to go heroically. It made feel good and really appreciated.”

Singleton held a big opening night party at his home three weeks ago and was a great host. I had my sneaking suspicion he was not going to make it through the season only because I didn’t see him when I visited the set for episode nine. But I was hoping for the best.

His character T-Dog was popular but never fully fleshed out. We don’t know much of his back story, if at all. We never saw any of his family members. He had a handful of lines per episode. Still, he was a loyal foot soldier for Rick Grimes, who never questioned T-Dog’s loyalty to the group. And Singleton is not complaining.

“I’m totally and completely satisfied with how the show went,” Singleton said. “I think the show is a success because of the brilliant team of individuals with everyone coming together.” As for his own storyline, “I’m just pleased to be part of something so special.”

And since T-Dog had no ostensible back story, Singleton projected his own life in the projects and his own life. (Read my interview with him last month.)

T-Dog played a pivotal role season one when he dropped the handcuff key down a pipe, forcing racist Merle to cut off his hand to get away from the zombies. (Merle returns this season in Woodbury.) In season two, T-Dog sliced up his arm accidentally on the highway and Daryl saved him from what seemed like certain doom. T-Dog killed plenty of zombies to the very end. In his final moments, he helped distract the zombies so Carol could get away (presumably) last night.

Watching the episode while awaiting his time on “Talking Dead,” he said it felt “surreal. It was like, ‘Wow, it’s over!’ Bittersweet. I tried my best to keep all my weeping on the inside.”

***

We, the press, also spoke with Sarah Wayne Callies, who, as Lori, died during childbirth Sunday night and was shot by her son Carl to keep her from “turning” into a zombie. Callies makes a great interview. She is both thoughtful and perceptive in her comments.

Her character was often mocked, reviled for her whining, her torn feelings about Rick and Shane, her poor decision making and questionable parenting of wandering Carl. Callies said she never reads online comments about her character but others have told her the feedback. She better treasures actual old-fashioned written letters sent to her, 20 to 50 a week, msot telling her how much they like her and her character.

She herself enjoyed the complexities and flaws of Lori compared to Sara Tancredi, the character she played on “Prison Break.” “Sara was kind of an angel,” Callies said. “People loved her. But coming off that show, my concerns was not to get stuck playing our lady of sorrow. I wanted to play a different kind of woman… I’m growing and expanding my range as an artist.” (Speaking of “Prison Break,” she said going in she had no idea “The Walking Dead” would end up in a prison as well. Irony!)

She was happy about the way Lori died because she was able to speak her peace with Carl in her final scene. “This signals a sea change from the first two seasons,” she said. “Carl was practically a prop in the first season. I was always resting my head on his shoulder. He has evolved into a child soldier and all the deeply unsettling power that brings with it. I think in a way Lori’s death signals a change in balance between Carl and Rick. And maybe in a sense that this boy has a flint in his heart in both a good and bad way his dad doesn’t anymore.”

Callies is familiar with the graphic novels and was aware her character died going in. “I assumed going in she had an expiration date,” she said. Frank Darabont, who was the show runner the first season through part of season two, told her, “I don’t need to kill you.” Callies responded, “With all due respect, you do.” Callies said, “He just laughed. He said he never had an actress, a leading lady argue her way off the show.”

But she felt this is the best way to propel the story forward. “In the books, Rick goes nuts because his wife dies. I think that’s pretty cool.”

In other words, she believed in the integrity of the story ahead of her own pocketbook and career. (Then again, being part of a hugely successful show never hurts one’s career!)

She was also happy that they jumped several months forward to Lori’s delivery point season three. “Truncating the journey makes for better storytelling,” she said. Else, the story would have gotten repetitive: how do we protect Lori’s baby?

As for who the child’s daddy is, she said they probably won’t ever know for sure though the actors talked about it on set.

She said Lori, being pregnant, was prepared to die. She knew they had no prenatal care, a lack of proper nutrition, plenty of reasons why she wouldn’t make it – even if the baby did. The questions now are: will Rick accept the child? Will the child have a chance in a zombie apocalypse? And how about Rick’s regrets about never truly telling Lori he was sorry. They did have that moment at the end of episode two where Rick touched her shoulder. And they shared a meaningful look at each other from a distance right before the zombies attacked episode four.

Callies herself just finished up a film she started over the summer, a big-budget disaster film about the aftermath of a tornado. (I guess anyone who saw her doing that film could have figured out that her character on “The Walking Dead” was no longer.) She said jumping into this new role helped her get over the loss of Lori.

***

Buzzfeed says UGA grad and former Pittsburgh Steeler Hines Ward got to dress up as a zombie for “The Walking Dead.”

***

Ratings update: This fourth episode was the lowest-rated one season to date but still a very formidable 9.27 million viewers and a 4.9 18-49 rating (down from 5.4 last week). Locally, the show drew 232,000 viewers, good for 25th overall.

***

The crew is still shooting the final episodes of “The Walking Dead” in Senoia through the end of the month.

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59 comments Add your comment

Ms Lady

November 6th, 2012
9:19 am

RIP T-Dogg! I really was looking for a stand off against T-Dogg and Merle. Guess we’ll have to see that next lifetime. By the way, He went out like a soldier! Love it!

The Biting Dead

November 6th, 2012
9:23 am

I love the show, and I really enjoyed Mr. Singleton’s performance.

Seriously, though, what kind of name was “T-Dog” for a grown-azz man, even a fictional one?

Before the virus outbreak, was “T-Dog” living in his mother’s basement, collecting welfare funds and “procuring” $200 sneakers?

Did “T-Dog” have to shoot his mother in his head when she became a walker and tried to eat him?
(I have feeling his biological father had gotten to safety long, long, long ago.)

I was glad to see Lori die. I hated that cheating & whining piece of trash.

The Biting Dead

November 6th, 2012
9:26 am

Rick risked so much to take that prison so his “wife” could safely and comfortably give birth to Shane’s child.

Then, that ungrateful hu$$y went and died, anyway!

That woman didn’t appreciate ANYTHING his husband did for her.

The Biting Dead

November 6th, 2012
9:32 am

Rodney,

Is Hines Ward playing a dead version of himself, or just “Anonymous Walker # 3,427″ in the credits?

Will they be using HEINZ ketchup on that former Steeler to simulate blood?

stilldefiant

November 6th, 2012
9:38 am

Ahh the racists really do show up in every AJC comment thread. Thanks The Biting Dead for keeping that tradition going.

I was surprised that T-Dog lasted that long but glad his character progressed more than what we saw in the 2nd season.

spoiled

November 6th, 2012
9:44 am

Rodney – a humble suggestion. Save the spoilers for inside the article, not the headline, and add a “spoiler alert” to the headline on the front page so the DVR and Tivo users have a heads up before they click it. TWD fans can get a little rabid. I think fans of other shows would appreciate this too. It’s just a TV show, and I’m sure in your position it’s hard to completely avoid exposing people to spoilers before they watch an episode, but I think a little due diligence would go a long way given how many people record TV shows these days. Thanks!

Mercedes S.

November 6th, 2012
9:46 am

With T-Dog dead, the handless man might not be so anxious to revenge himself on Rick’s gang… SHOULD THEY EVER MEET.

Mercedes S.

November 6th, 2012
9:47 am

Spoiled, these two deaths have been old news for two days.

Deirdre

November 6th, 2012
9:51 am

Rodney, I know the mother of the twins who will be playing Lori’s baby. Small world always gets smaller. She’s a McIntosh grad, worked with my son after college graduation and attended his wedding. I just learned that she had twins when my son told me that the twins will be in Walking Dead.

[...] Walking Dead ” until zombies ravaged his T-Dog character Sunday night. “When I … …Source Tags: Walking Dead window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({ appId : 275244229221412, [...]

sana

November 6th, 2012
10:06 am

wait wait wait hold it hold it hold it. Dudes name is ironE? Is that pronounced “irony” or more like I-RONE?

A

November 6th, 2012
10:13 am

Spoiler
Governor rapes Michonee

Merle DIxon for President

November 6th, 2012
10:16 am

Merle Dixon should have been the series character to end T DOG, sweet revenge for being forced to saw off his hand.

I have a feeling that either Daryl & Merle will eventually before forced to kill the other when they finally encounter with their respective camps, perhaps even being forced to kill one another.

The best twist would be for Lori’s baby to be T-Dog’s, not the child of Shane or RIck.
NORDBERG! (A “Frank Drebin” reference)

Xavier

November 6th, 2012
10:19 am

Um, the headline is basically a spoiler, so no need for “spoiler alert.” Unless you want to change the headline to that.

MoFaux

November 6th, 2012
10:21 am

Wow, watched it last night on DVR. Quite the shocker for sure. I must say though…the wife and I were wondering how a baby could survive without the mom in such an environment…no breast milk, no formula…still, love the show. Hopefully they will address this issue, because the baby would not survive a week without proper care. My wife was yelling at the screen last night, “Clear the baby’s mouth!”. This show really draws you in. Poor Carl…

A

November 6th, 2012
10:22 am

How’s about a big hug for your pal merle. lol
Didn’t know irone played football at uga.

A

November 6th, 2012
10:26 am

Weird Lauren Cohan, maggie, lived in the US til her teens but doesn’t have an american accent.

Kat

November 6th, 2012
10:28 am

@Deirdre: Now THAT is a spoiler alert. You are an idiot!!!!!!!! Keep your stupid friends too!!!!!!

Merle DIxon for President

November 6th, 2012
10:31 am

A,

Unless drugging her beforehand, how in the world does a lean boy like The Governor “rape” an Alpha-Female like Michonne?

Many men would pay good money to be whipped & dominated by a woman like her.

Merle Dixon 2016!

20/20 Hindsight

November 6th, 2012
11:05 am

NOTE TO SELF:

If Rodney Ho is presenting an in-person, in-season interview with you with a “The Walking Dead” cast member in Vinings, WHILE THE REST OF THE CAST IS STILL TAPING ALL THE WAY OVER IN SENOIA, that cast member’s character is no longer part of the show.

paul

November 6th, 2012
11:12 am

RIP T dog
You went down lika boss every part of your walking dead life has been great

BUT

Lori HATE to say yo basicly killed Shane and he saved you for nothing therefore it best be Shane’s baby but apart from that sarah Wayne is a great actress :-) :-) :-) :-)

Rodney Ho

November 6th, 2012
11:12 am

@20/20 Hindsight. Given that the show has split its shooting schedule between the prison and Woodbury, it was possible that IronE had been simply given a day off.

Denyse

November 6th, 2012
11:17 am

RIP T-Dog. You never said much, so I knew that when they gave you more than 2 lines in last week’s episode, you were a goner. You went out like a champ, though! We’ll miss you.

Mrs. T-Dog

November 6th, 2012
11:47 am

Since we didn’t know T-Dog’s background, the background I envisioned for this Superhero was he was a former University of Georgia football player who was on track to win the Heisman his senior year but broke his leg and didn’t win. That is as far as I had gotten and now … well … I am at a lose and deeply in my mourning period. I don’t know if I will ever get over it. The only good part I can find is T-Dog did go out in selfless glory! RIP T-Dog! You will be missed!

D

November 6th, 2012
12:12 pm

How can the title of this article be interpreted as anything but the death of T-Dog? Am I supposed to read “IronE Singleton grateful for time on ‘The Walking Dead’ as T-Dog” and think that Singleton wants everyone to know he’s happy to be on a hit show? You are strongly implying that his time is over. It hasn’t even been 2 days since the episode aired. Come on.

Oler

November 6th, 2012
12:15 pm

I DVR’d it and have not seen it. Thanks AJC for spoiling it. JERKS

TyposGalore

November 6th, 2012
12:40 pm

AJC, instead of rushing to put out an article about a popular show that would obviously be a spoiler for some, why not run the article through a couple of editors first? I hda teh hradest tYme reeding tshis. Below are excerpts of just some of the blundering errors.

And maybe in a sense that this boy has a flint in his heart in both a good and bad way his dad doesn’t anFrank Darabontymore.”

Callies is familiar with the graphic novels and was aware her character died going in. “I assumed going in she had an expiration date,” she said. , who was the show runner the first season through part of season two, told her, “I don’t need to kill you.” Callies responded, “With all due respect, you do.” Callies said, “He just laughed. He said he never had an actress, a leading lady argue her way off the show.”

And what does “She’s a great interview.” mean as you refer to Lori’s character?

TyposGalore

November 6th, 2012
12:42 pm

And for my fellow graphic book lovers, don’t spoil it for those who haven’t been reading the script. This is a great series, and with only 13 or so episodes each season, it makes the surprise all the more worth it.

Deadhead

November 6th, 2012
12:46 pm

What about Carol? Anyway, just saw the “Talking Dead” interview with T-Dog. What a guy!!!!! He made me laugh and cry. Props to all the fine performers and writers, I love this show! RIP T-Dog…. love ya, man.

Deadhead

November 6th, 2012
12:55 pm

Yeah, that baby is a goner: I worked in peds and I don’t give it that generous week… Not worth the deaths we had to go through. I want to see a zombie baby (would it be a “crawler” and not a walker?)…food for thought…

Mr. EBT

November 6th, 2012
1:08 pm

T-Dog just swiping that EBT!

No Escaping Destiny

November 6th, 2012
1:10 pm

The “Iro-nE” of this past episode was that TDog may have had a teacher from his youth or ex-girlfriend once tell him that he would wind up spending the last days of his life in prison.

He didn’t even commit a crime…

….of which we know….

Go figure!

Xavera

November 6th, 2012
1:10 pm

I sensed from the start that T-Dog was a wuss, then he confirmed it at the end when the decision had to be made whether or not to allow the two surviving convicts to join the group.

Probably merciful for T-Dog that a walker got to him first, if it’d been Merle it would’ve been much, much worse.

MoFaux

November 6th, 2012
1:15 pm

Deadhead, I agree. I want to see the Zom-baby give Andrea a nibble, although that likely means she/he will need to survive longer than a week. I really find it difficult to like her character. However, zom-baby means all CGI…maybe Andy Serkis could fill that role! That…would be killer.

M-Dog

November 6th, 2012
1:17 pm

Actually, my name is Martin….

And although I waited every episode to.see if Tdog would finally have some major screen time i
Must say his heroic death trumped others on the show
The way Carols face looked at him before she went thru the door was so touching.
Good character Rip

Deirdre

November 6th, 2012
1:24 pm

Kat
November 6th, 2012
10:28 am

@Deirdre: Now THAT is a spoiler alert. You are an idiot!!!!!!!! Keep your stupid friends too!!!!!!

What a lovely person you must be. Bless your heart!

sana

November 6th, 2012
1:32 pm

I AINT SEEN THE EPISODE YET. THANKS FOR RUINING IT, RANDY HO!

carolyn

November 6th, 2012
2:09 pm

I hate to see Lori go! She was my favorite. Personally I felt she brought most of the drama to the show. Im scared how I will like the show now to be honest. I guess if she had to go they did do it in a very dramatic way. I know I shed a few tears when Rick found out.

TyposGalore

November 6th, 2012
2:52 pm

Thank you for fixing the typos.

Now, one comment about this episode is Carol’s random hat. She had not worn that headpiece for 2 full seasons. I had trouble figuring out who she was, so I find it strange that all of a sudden she is known for her head wrap. That was a very poor move on AMC’s part to identify a headpiece with her. Dale’s hat: recognizable. Glenn’s cap: recognizable. Carl’s Dad’s Sheriff hat: recognizable. Carol: …??? She’ll be back.

Maddie

November 6th, 2012
3:43 pm

We will miss you T-Dog!!!

Maddie

November 6th, 2012
3:44 pm

I <3 The Walking Dead!! :)

Maddie

November 6th, 2012
3:46 pm

This was the most depressing episode of them all!! I still can’t believe T-Dog and Lori are dead!!

mothers concerns

November 6th, 2012
4:32 pm

Very Sad Show Didn’t Expect That Ending For Those Actors :(

jackie

November 6th, 2012
4:43 pm

Enter your comments here

jackie

November 6th, 2012
4:45 pm

I kinda wished they had left Lori on the show. Without Rick’s family, I have nothing to root for. However, I will say that the acting on this show is great!

Tanya

November 6th, 2012
5:14 pm

For those of you upset because you found out about the deaths before watching the episode next time try 2 things. Wath the show or stay off the internet. With such a popular show it is expected that someone is going to be talking about it the next day. More your fault then anyone else.

D

November 6th, 2012
5:58 pm

Tanya, this isn’t EW, AMC, or even a comic book website. I’m supposed to know that an online version of a southern newspaper is going to spoil a tv episode on the front page? Without me even clicking a link? The AJC has gone two years and 28 episodes without doing this but I’m supposed to expect it now?

Mercedes S.

November 6th, 2012
6:49 pm

Tanya – excellent point at 5:14. All these people moaning about their show being ruined, why don’t they just watch the episode so they can participate in an informed duscussion?

Mercedes S.

November 6th, 2012
6:52 pm

And D, as for “an online version of a southern newspaper is going to spoil a tv episode on front page” – I see this as a sign that Rodney Ho is the consummate TV blogger.

tina

November 6th, 2012
7:40 pm

I almost turned the dayum show off on sunday. mad as hell T-Dog was killed off and then Lori. :-(