Warning: Potential SPOILERS for The Walking Dead season 7 ahead
Much of The Walking Dead's sixth season, particularly the latter half, was spent building up to the reveal of new villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), which in turn led to plenty of buzz about whether the show would stick to the storyline of the comic books and have Negan brutally kill off fan-favorite character Glenn, who has been around since the very start of the show. The Walking Dead showrunner Scott M. Gimple was apparently eager to keep the speculation going, because The Walking Dead's season 6 finale concluded with a cliffhanger ending of Negan bringing down his bat, Lucille, on the head of an unknown character.
The tricky thing about cliffhangers involving potential character deaths is that, during the months-long wait for The Walking Dead season 7, the real world still exists. One of the chief complaints about season 6's cliffhanger among fans was that the character death would end up getting spoiled by casting news anyway, thereby taking the sting out of the "shocking" death when it finally happened on screen. Now, it looks like that fear may have been justified.
THR reports that Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on the show, has just been cast in Bong Joon-Ho's monster movie Okja. The film is being produced by Plan B for Netflix, and stars Seohyun An as a girl who befriends a genetically engineered pig called Okja, and is forced to go on a rescue mission when Okja grows to huge proportions and the corporation that created him takes him back. The rest of the cast includes Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Devon Bostick, Byun Heebong, Shirley Henderson, Daniel Henshall, Yoon Je Moon and Choi Wooshik. Yeun is also set to star in Joe Lynch's action thriller Mayhem, which is currently filming.
Okja began principal photography today, and filming on The Walking Dead season 7 begins in May. While it's possible that Yeun has managed to do some savvy scheduling that will allow him to star in both The Walking Dead season 7 and Okja (perhaps his role in the latter film is small enough to limit his filming schedule to just the first few weeks), there are obvious implications attached to a regular cast member booking a movie that will be filming at the same time as the TV show.
The news will no doubt further fuel criticisms of the way that The Walking Dead's finale was handled, with some fans feeling that the cliffhanger was cheap and will end up detracting from the impact of the scene. It also seems fairly inevitable that the trailers and stills for The Walking Dead season 7 will end up offering big clues as to which character was killed off (i.e. the character who's not in any of the trailers or stills). On the bright side, it is exciting to hear that Yeun will be working with a critically-acclaimed filmmaker like Bong, whose previous works include sci-fi thriller Snowpiercer and monster movie The Host. If Glenn is dead, then perhaps he's gone to a better place.
The Walking Dead season 7 premieres in fall 2016. We'll keep you updated on Okja as production continues.