Warning! There are obviously “Walking Dead” spoilers below.
“The Walking Dead” just brought an iconic moment from the comic books to life, and if you’re losing your head over it, don’t worry: It sounds like the actors did too.
In the closing moments of the penultimate Season 9 episode, “The Calm Before,” it was revealed that Alpha (Samantha Morton) and her group, The Whisperers, had captured and decapitated a number of characters from the show, going full Ned Stark, and placing their heads on pikes for Michonne (Danai Gurira), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) to discover later.
Most of the victims were minor characters who might make you feel like “new phone who dis?” so for those wondering, here’s who got piked: Highwaymen Ozzy (Angus Sampson) and Alek (Jason Kirkpatrick), former Savior DJ (Matt Mangum), one of Negan’s former wives Frankie (Elyse DuFour), Hilltop resident Tammy Rose (Brett Butler) and Hilltop teens Addy (Kelley Mack) and Rodney (Joe Ando Hirsh).
One of those victims, Nacon, talked with HuffPost in an interview ahead of the episode. Even more brutal than having your head put on a pike, it seems, is the wait to find out if you’re going to have your head put on a pike.
“I had a general meeting with [showrunner Angela Kang] at the beginning of [last] year, at the beginning of filming, and she told me that it was a possibility that my character might not make it, but they didn’t know for sure yet, and they’d probably know in August,” said Nacon. “August rolled around and they still didn’t know anything.”
The actress was still wondering days before the episode’s scripts were sent out, so she finally reached out over email and got the news.
“I found out three days before the script came out,” said Nacon. “I always knew it was a possibility, but there was a possibility Aaron could’ve died, or it could’ve been Rosita or Ezekiel, so it was a long process.”
Nacon said finally learning the news “was a lot all at once” but talked it through with fellow victim Alanna Masterson and at least got a head-turning wrap gift out of the ordeal.
What’s it like to be a head on a pike?
It’s interesting. I’ve been on the show for 5 1/2 years, and then it comes to an end. I mean, it’s pretty cool to be a part of this big monumental part of the comic book … but otherwise, it’s not all that exciting.
After you found out, did you talk to the other cast members about it?
I talked to Alanna mostly because we found out about it around the same time. We talked it out a lot and talked through the process of how our characters were going to go and everything. It was really cool though when we actually did film the final sequence, the fighting sequence, because everyone kind of had their own moment to get that heroic-ness out before the end.
Did you actually get to shoot the final pike scene at all, or how was it done?
They did a full head cast and everything, then they worked their magic on that. I have no clue how any of that works, but it turned out amazing. They also had us come in ― they took a video capture of our faces as well, and they mixed both the heads they created and our actual faces together in the end, so it, like, looks like our actual heads on the pike moving around and stuff, and then went back in for ADR work and did dead-people noises.
What do you think about your dead-people noises?
I was a little rusty. It was my first time. I deserve a free pass. I tried my best.
Did you get to take your head home or anything?
Oh, definitely. As soon as I saw my head, I was like, “[Greg Nicotero] you’re going to give me that right?” He’s like, “You want me to make you one?” And I was like, “Maybe.” So my wrap gift was my severed head in a box.
Wow, do you have it on display?
Well, it’s not displayed in my home because it freaks my mom out … but we have already pulled some pranks with it. It’s in a box.
And darn that this happens when Enid finally called Alden her boyfriend. Figures.
Yeah, you can’t die unhappy.
That’s how you know someone’s going to die on this show. They start to have a perfect life and immediately they’re killed off.
That’s a great point. Also, “Walking Dead” has this pattern of killing off the doctors when there’s more than one. So when Enid started getting medical training, and Siddiq’s already a doctor on the show, were you worried about dying?
Oh, I told [Avi Nash], who plays Siddiq. I told him all the time, “You better watch out. It’s going to be one of us.” He’d be like, “Nah, nah, nah.”
Speaking of Siddiq, he was also captured by The Whisperers, but somehow he’s the sole survivor from the whole ordeal. He’s just found tied to a tree. Can people trust him? Or is there something else going on?
I don’t know. He seems to be the only surviving person in a lot of these situations. He doesn’t have a good track record so far. But honestly, I think they can trust one of their own now, especially because he’s been part of their group for, after the time jump, six or seven years now. So if they don’t trust him now, they’ve kind of got issues they have to work through.
What else would you have liked to do had Enid made it?
This last season she learns an amazing trait of being a doctor and everything, and I don’t think that was ever really touched upon a lot, and they kind of focused on her love story. But either way, I’m happy I got to work.
Yeah, there is a lot of love story. It’s inspired a lot of memes too. Have you seen Enid in the jealous girlfriend meme?
Oh, yeah, all the time. With Henry?
Yeah, Henry and really all the characters that have liked her.
Yeah, she started off in a love triangle, and she ended in one too.
Were there any Enid moments that got cut that you wish would’ve made the show?
I’ve had a lot cut. I don’t even know if I could even list it all out. Things are constantly being cut from the show just because of lack of time, but I’ve had a lot cut. I’d say at least half my scenes. There was this one scene that was really cool in the beginning of my time on the show. It was a scene between me and Carl. I can’t remember the exact details because I was like 15, but he came into the attic area, and I was there, and he tried to confront me or something, and I pulled a knife on him, and then we had this whole kind of discussion. I end up crying, and he ends up hugging me. It was this really sweet moment where you got to see a vulnerable state of Enid, and all you had really seen before that is her being angsty teenager Enid.
That moment of pulling the knife on Carl is interesting considering all the theories at the time that Enid was part of a group of villains called the Wolves.
Yeah, it would’ve added a lot of layers.
Looking back, what’s been the best moment? What are you going to remember?
Honestly, the first years on the show were some of the best years of my life. I loved every minute of it, all the work I got to do working with [Steven Yeun], an amazing actor. It was all pretty surreal that 15-year-old me was on this giant show. … I couldn’t even understand it or wrap my head around it. Not only that, but at the age of 15, I was picked to be part of this amazing cast, amazing crew, and to be able to do what I love and what I’m planning on doing for the rest of my life. All of that was surreal.