This post contains SPOILERS for The Walking Dead
Tom Payne opens up about being the latest The Walking Dead star to exit the series. Following huge departures from Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes) and Lauren Cohan (Maggie), the AMC show suffered another loss in Payne who played Jesus, the Hilltop community leader that debuted back in season 6.
Different from Rick and Maggie's separation from the surviving pack, Jesus' departure is permanent as he becomes this midseason finale's big character death. His end came at the hands of The Whisperers - the brand new villainous team in the series. With the unexpected turn of events now out in the open, Payne talks about the unexpected end of his character and how he feels with the way Jesus was utilized in the series for the last couple of seasons.
Speaking with THR, Wayne candidly talked about his sentiments following his exit in the AMC post-apocalyptic series saying that while "people will be disappointed and shocked," he's happy with how he left the series. Explaining how the latest twist in The Walking Dead came out to be behind-the-camera, the actor also revealed how he had been harboring frustrations over the lack of a solid arc for his character.
"They were aware I wouldn't be unhappy if they got rid of me. I expressed unhappiness last season. I was very frustrated with what the character had been doing. He arrived in a very cool way, and then he floundered at the Hilltop. During the war with the Saviors, the only person he had a fight with was a man who was on his side [in Lennie James' Morgan]. In the comics, he has this massive fight with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He catches a grenade, and throws it back [at his enemies]. He's the most capable member of the entire group! And he wasn't used at all [on the show]. In the background, I was training every single week. I was ready and raring to go. You can't help but feel a little bit despondent when you're not released to do some cool stuff. It was mutual and they knew I would be OK with it. It's an amazing show and I was so honored to be a part of it, but at the same time, being the same character without anything fun to do is a bit frustrating."
Payne continued by maintaining that he loved playing Jesus, and because of that, the frustration is much greater seeing its unreached potential.
"I loved the character. It's sad to say goodbye to the character. But there was just so much potential in the character that wasn't realized. I was frustrated by that and wished we had explored it further. I wasn't sad to say goodbye to that frustration. It was constant. I had been training for two years. I was so prepared for this character and what he was capable of. There was just lots of unrealized potential. That was very frustrating for me. When we finally showed off this year what he was able to do, that was great. I have no wish to go back to being frustrated by a character."
Following The Walking Dead midseason 9 finale, the show will be on hiatus until the second week of February where it will roll out fresh episodes starting with "New Enemy." From there, fans will learn more about The Whisperers. Further, the back half of the current outing is also expected to feature of Negan after being in the sidelines so far in the season.