Words: Steve Brown
Tom Payne wanted his Walking Dead character’s sexuality to be more ‘up front’.
British actor Tom Payne, 35, has been busy setting hearts aflutter as Paul 'Jesus' Rovia The Walking Dead since 2015, and long-time fans of the series were thrilled when scenes aired during season 7 confirming that Jesus - like his comic book counterpart - was gay.
However, viewers of the show were left distraught after Jesus was killed off at the hands of the Whisperers in last night’s episode of season nine – despite his comic book counterpart still being alive and well.
And in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Payne said that although it was “amazing” to be part of the LGBT representation on TV, he said there are people who still didn’t realise Jesus was gay.
He said: “It's been so amazing to be a part of that community and to give visibility as a gay character on one of the biggest television shows ever.
“It was an amazing responsibility, and I was happy to take it on. But I was disappointed it wasn't in there more.
“It wasn't ever even explicitly mentioned. [Jesus' sexual orientation] was just one scene with Lauren in season seven.
“The right people picked up on it; they did recognise it. But you can find people who still don't realise Jesus was gay.
“I think they could have been a bit more up front about that.
“While you've lost Jesus, you still have Aaron and Tara (Alanna Masterson), and now Magna (Nadia Hilker) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), so there's still representation on the show.
“But it's a shame. He was such a badass character. They could have made more of it. It's really Robert Kirkman who was so amazing to do it in the comic books.
“I was super excited to play that. I wish they made a bigger deal of it. But other storylines take precedent, I guess.”