The Walking Dead actor Seth Gilliam reflects upon 'upsetting' fan backlash

Jacob Stolworthy

The Walking Dead actor Seth Gilliam, who plays Father Gabriel on the show, has detailed how he found the initial fan backlash to his character to be “somewhat upsetting.”

Gilliam - whose most famous role previous to the AMC drama was as Ellis Carver in The Wire - first appeared in season five depicted as a coward who wasn't liked by the show's lead character Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).

It was only towards the end of last season where fans became much more attuned to the character, and while season seven has seen him become one of Rick's most trusted allies, Gilliam told us during the show's UK press tour how the initial backlash he received was, at times, quite tough to bear.

He said: “I've kind of let go of the popularity contest thing that gets tied into the show. At first, I was taken aback by the amount of negative response I got as the character so it was somewhat upsetting for me. Then I found the tide had turned when my character sermonised over an unarmed man and shot him in the face,” he added in reference to season six episode, 'Not Tomorrow Yet.'

Gilliam continued: “I find that if you're playing a character with the hopes of being liked, you're already lost; people are going to have their response. Hopefully, they'll understand what moments you want them to. I realised that long before I got on the show.

"The size of this show is what was somewhat offputting - the amount of the response. But I realised very early on as an actor that you can't act wanting to be loved - you have to be true to the character and the story."

Elsewhere, we spoke to actor Norman Reedus about his views on 'Easy Street,' the song used by The Saviours to torture his character, Daryl.

The Walking Dead continues in the US this Sunday (5 March) with its UK premiere following as day later (6 March) at 9pm on FOX.