Not too many actors reach the milestone of being in a TV series that celebrates its 100th episode. Seth Gilliam is about to celebrate that landmark on two shows.
Gilliam, who will be at the Niagara Falls Comic Con from June 2 to 4, stars as veterinarian Alan Deaton on MTV’s “Teen Wolf,” which ends its sixth and final season in the summer with Episode 100. He also plays the enigmatic Father Gabriel Stokes on the AMC juggernaut “The Walking Dead,” which starts Season 8 in the fall with Episode 100.
The double milestone isn’t lost on the actor who finds the humanity in those otherworldly shows are a big part of their lasting appeal.
“The supernatural setting allows the humanity of the characters to shine through a little more. It is easier for audiences to relate to them because the circumstances are so extreme,” Gilliam said in a recent telephone interview. “The situations of both shows demand high drama and high anxiety, unlike a kitchen-sink drama where people sit around talking about Uncle Benny needing surgery. I think the thrill and shock factor and scare factor combined with the humanity of the characters shining through.”
“On ‘Teen Wolf,’ it’s Scott putting himself in harm’s way for his pack,” he continued. “Or Stiles, who doesn’t have supernatural powers, putting himself in harm’s way. On ‘The Walking Dead,’ it was T-Dog sacrificing himself to protect Carol in the prison in Season 2 when he could have easily made it out on his own. There are many moments like that throughout ‘The Walking Dead’ where people put themselves on the line for other people and that resounds with the viewing audience. They want to feel like they are capable of the same stuff; that they can be big in those moments, too.”
In addition to those two shows, Gilliam also starred in the critically acclaimed HBO drama, “The Wire,” which ran from 2002 to 2008.
“I’ve been insanely fortunate to have come across three shows that have such an impact,” he acknowledged. ” ‘The Wire’ continues to resound. I’m sure ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘Teen Wolf’ will have long shelf lives after they are off the air. To be a part of one would be fantastic, but to have three and three very different shows is really fortunate.”
Gilliam joined “The Walking Dead” in Season 5 when Father Gabriel was introduced kicking and screaming on a rock as he was under attack by the “walkers” (zombies) of the show’s title. While that fear was understandable, he continually proved himself untrustworthy and cowardly – a trait cemented with the revelation that he barricaded himself in his church, locking out his parishioners who were killed by the walkers. Later, he turned on our favorite characters. In return, fans turned on Father Gabriel, and by association, Gilliam. The actor enjoys sharing stories of how fans would wait in long lines at conventions just to tell him how much they hated Father Gabriel.
But things are changing. Though Gilliam can’t discuss the current filming of Season 8, he is happy to discuss the evolution of Father Gabriel who is now atoning for his sins and acting more like a man of the cloth. He even finally raised a weapon to help others, although Gilliam would prefer that is limited.
“I’d rather not be running around with a gun – there are plenty of other people running around with guns. He’s an interesting character with opportunities to do different things,” Gilliam said.
That new Father Gabriel also has brought out a new relationship with fans.
“The fan response is very different now,” Gilliam laughed. “A lot of people will come up to me and say ‘Now, I have a confession – I hated you in the beginning but now I’m really liking Father Gabrielle.’ That’s about 95 percent of the people who come up to me – which is fun to talk about. Then I can ask them what it was that they hated and we can go back and have a conversation we couldn’t have two years ago at the conventions.”