‘The Walking Dead’: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Seth Gilliam

Victoria Leigh Miller
Seth Gilliam (Photo: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)

To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of  The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.

Since 2014, fans of The Walking Dead have been blessed with the presence of Seth Gilliam. The Wire’s Sgt. Ellis Carver star came on the scene as Father Gabriel Stokes in Season 5 of the AMC post-apocalyptic horror drama. But while we’ve learned a lot about the Episcopal priest since that time, we’re not quite as schooled on Gilliam. Read on for five things you should know about TWD’s man of the cloth.

1. Early in his career, he was a Cosby Show boyfriend.

Gilliam’s first big TV break came in 1990 on The Cosby Show, where he played Pam Tucker’s (Erika Rose Alexander) boyfriend Aaron Dexter, a brainiac at the top of his class. Gilliam appeared in three Cosby episodes over the course of Season 7.

Erika Alexander as Pam Tucker and Seth Gilliam as Aaron Dexter in ‘The Cosby Show’ (Photo: NBC)

2. He didn’t know what part he was auditioning for on TWD.

Gilliam was clueless when he showed up for his initial TWD audition. The actor told Entertainment Weekly not only did he not know he was auditioning for the part of the priest, but he had never seen the show before he was cast on it. “I actually did not realize I was reading for the role of Father Gabriel during the casting process,” Gilliam said. “I got a call from [executive producer] Gale Anne Hurd after the offer was made to me to explain who I would be playing.”

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes in AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ (Credit: Gene Page/AMC)

3. Executive producer Scott Gimple broke his own rule when he hired him.

Gilliam’s early TWD co-stars included Chad Coleman and Lawrence Gilliard Jr., two of his co-stars on HBO’s The Wire. Although The Wire reunion was great for fans, it almost didn’t happen. Gilliam told EW that executive producer Scott Gimple once told him over dinner that he made a promise to himself after casting Coleman that he was not going to cast anyone else from The Wire on his AMC drama. Gimple went back on his word because he loved the HBO show so much and realized the three actors were “the best people for the jobs.”

4. He prefers acting on the stage.

Gilliam has an impressive résumé as a stage actor, including high-profile roles in productions of Othello, the Moor of Venice and King Lear. According to an article posted by the University of Houston, Gilliam’s first professional role after graduating from State University of New York was opposite Denzel Washington, playing Prince Edward in the play Richard III. Gilliam once said acting for stage, television, and film requires “three very different” styles. “I prefer stage acting because it’s a lot more fun to do,” Gilliam said. “There is instant communication with the audience. An actor can tell whether or not he or she is connecting with an audience or whether they understand what’s going on.” In a Q&A with AMC, Gilliam even mused about a stage production of TWD, saying if it ever happened it would have to be “a fantastic musical with the ‘dead’ chorus.”

Brandon J. Dirden, Seth Gilliam, and Crystal Dickinson (Photo: Houston Shakespeare Festival via Facebook)

5. He’s a huge Beatles fan.

Gilliam’s Twitter profile describes him as an “Actor, Dreamer, Beatles fan.” According to the blog Conmose, at Dutch Comic-Con, Gilliam was asked who his favorite Beatle was, and he had a definite preference for one member of the Fab Four. “John Lennon,” Gilliam said. “Lennon-McCartney, not McCartney-Lennon. Lennon-McCartney for a reason, baby!”

The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.

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