Arts and Culture

A Q&A with Walking Dead actor Michael Cudlitz

Talking Walking Dead, Lex Luthor and a career that's been kind to him

Actor Michael Cudlitz, who's best known for playing Abraham Ford on AMC’s The Walking Dead, has made a few appearances recently in Kelowna.

The actor swung by Kelowna Comic-Con, and made a stop at Crown & Thieves for a whiskey and cigar tasting event.

Kelowna10 caught up with Cudlitz to talk Walking Dead success, the actor's strike ending, and much more.

The below interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Q: What was it like to be part of such a massive cultural phenomenon such as The Walking Dead?

Michael Cudlitz: It's interesting when you're in the middle of something like that, as I've come to learn, you don't really know you're in the middle of it. It's more in hindsight when you realize what the show was and how big the show was. I mean, you know, you have a lot of fans because they show up when we do things like the conventions at San-Diego Comic-Con, New York Comic-Con. But you realize how big it is, really when you've moved on from it more than when you were in it.

Q: Did you know it would grow to what it became when you were auditioning?

Cudlitz: No, I didn't. The show kind of got at its height in season five and six, and I came in season four, so the show was already pretty popular when I came on it, and it was sort of on its rise and I rose with it. And again, when you're in the middle of it, you don't realize how big it is until you're sort of are able to step back. And it's pretty incredible, though.

Q: Do you feel that having that role be synonymous with your career as an actor is a bit restrictive at times?

Cudlitz: No, it's mostly with the huge Walking Dead fans that they know me. There's a certain age group also that grew up with the show. The show was on for 11 years, so it's kids who were kids at the time. That's mostly what they know me from because that's what they saw and that's what they grew up with. And that's the character I played. But I've been fortunate prior to The Walking Dead. I had a very long career. I've continued to work in many different things after. So, I have my Southland fans who know me mostly from Southland, and that's their reference point. I have the Band of Brothers fans, people who know me from Band of Brothers and that's their reference point. And now it's The Walking Dead. So hopefully they come with me on these other rides, and that's how you build a career.

Q: What are your thoughts on the recent SAG-AFTRA deal, are you hopeful for the future?

Cudlitz: I'm very hopeful that it gets ratified. I think it's an incredible contract, there’s incredible gains on it. There are some areas that we need to work on, and we will be able to work on them in two and a half years when we have our new contract, when it comes up again for renewal like they're only good for three years. And with this particular contract, we have our wedge in the door with AI (Artificial Intelligence) and we can deal with it in a more specific way and a more favorable way moving forward. But it's great protections for now, and hopefully it gets ratified.

Q: Talk about your role in Superman and Lois as Lex Luthor. What is it like preparing for a role that has a lot of established background that people are familiar with already?

Cudlitz: It's interesting because you say it's a character people are very familiar with, but it really isn't. If you look at all the iterations of Lex Luthor, if you look at Lex's origin, which most people don't know, you can tell by the comments that they don't know. People are very specific in their fandoms, and there are people who know a specific Lex but don't necessarily know the entire body of work and all the retcons and all the different worlds and all the different iterations. There are absolutely some through lines that go through all of them that is the essence of Lex. But the more research I did on Lex, the more I realized that it was helpful, and it was also not helpful because he's all over the place. So, I'm excited about it. I'm having a blast doing them. We're doing this interview in middle November, and we get back into shooting in the middle of January. So, I'm excited to get back to it.

Q: What’s next for you?

Cudlitz: I started directing a few years ago on The Walking Dead after I left the show, after I was killed off. So I'm hopefully going to be directing more in the future. Acting wise I have been very fortunate. I'm not even sure what's next, but I'm excited about it. My career has not let me down and sort of has a mind of its own and it's been very satisfying.

Q: How have you been enjoying Kelowna?

Cudlitz: I only got into Kelowna two hours ago. This is my Kelowna [at the Kelowna Comic-Con]. But I'm excited for the bourbon tasting[ later]. So, yeah.

Q: What interested you about the whiskey tasting event that you’re attending?

Cudlitz: They called me up and they said, ‘hey, we know you own your partners in some cigar whiskey, speakeasies in the States. Do you have any interest in coming up and doing a bourbon tasting with us?’ And I was like, let's do it. Pretty easy.

Q: Do you think you’ll find yourself back in the Okanagan any time?

Cudlitz: I might. When I landed, I noticed there were a lot of skis in the airport already. And I'll be in Vancouver in January, and my wife will come visit. Whistler is really close to us in Vancouver, but we might come out here to do a little more skiing in February, March as well.

Published 2023-11-18 by Robin Liva

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