THE WALKING DEAD Star Cooper Andrews Teases Season 9, Andrew Lincoln's Departure, SHAZAM! And More - EXCLUSIVE

We recently had the opportunity to talk all things The Walking Dead with Cooper Andrews (Jerry) so hit the jump for his favourite season eight moments, perfect death scene, and a whole lot more besides...

Cooper Andrews plays Jerry in The Walking Dead, a character whose roots aren't based in Robert Kirkman's comic book series but who has quickly emerged as a legitimate fan-favourite. As the loyal second in command to King Ezekiel, his role in the series has steadily increased over the past few years and he was actually responsible for some of the show's most memorable moments in season eight. 

Now, with The Walking Dead's latest season just days away from hitting DVD and Blu-ray on August 21st, we recently had the opportunity to chat with Cooper about his role in the show and he told us about his favourite moments, what's on the way in season nine, his role as Billy Batson's foster father in DC's Shazam!, and how he envisions Jerry meeting his maker is and when that finally comes. 

It goes without saying that I'd like to thank Cooper for taking the time to chat with us last week!

I wanted to start by asking what some of your favourite moments from season eight of The Walking Dead were?
There's a lot! One is episode four where all of our people die and I chop the guy in half. I think Jerry predicted the future at the end knowing that nobody was going to be harmed and that we're not going to lose sh*t...I think that was pretty cool. I really liked how the arc with Gavin and Henry played out, with Henry stabbing him in the back of the throat and how that took its toll. Morgan, I really enjoyed all how that went. I enjoyed a lot of it [Laughs]. Watching Aaron and Eric when he died and just how they didn't really get their goodbye and how it was just this farewell that was never said, I thought was just this beautiful moment. We should really talk about what I didn't like but I'm not sure what that is because I liked it all! 
You mentioned Jerry cutting Gunther in half, so can you talk more about what it was like shooting that scene?
It was anywhere from 95 to 100-something that whole week in Fahrenheit. It was super hot and it was super humid and we were wearing all this armour and pads and I was getting fired up because you see all our background Kingdom-ers who we've lived with for so long turned into walkers and I was just sad and angry for that whole week. It was a very sad week. When I did that cut, we did multiple takes and I nearly passed out quite a few times [Laughs]. I was just taking in all our people being killed and I just kept replaying that over and over so when I finally got to do that axe chop, that was me just harnessing the rage of losing all my friends. It was just a brutal episode and we put everything we could into it. I was chasing that feeling of whether what I was doing was what I wanted to do and whether it was good is up to debate but everything I wanted to do, I did. I was happy about getting that opportunity for that episode. The axe was real when I was swinging it at the fence...I was told not to hit the lock or hinge or chain because I would have broken them so I had to pull my punches when it came to swinging that axe, man. It was an intense day, for sure. 
Another big moment for Jerry this year was the death of Ezekiel's tiger Shiva; take us behind the scenes of that day on set. 
If you saw the logistics of what we do, you'd see that we had to do all of it fifteen times so every time we slid down the ravine or when I was doing a front squat where I threw Kari over the ridge and then climb up after him, we were essentially doing reps and this boot camp kind of workout. When it got to her death, it was kind of a cool moment because Khary and I envisioned this more tearful moment but because of just pure exhaustion and the sheer devastation of it all, it just knocked the wind out of us so that whole scene was rough. One, we were physically exhausted and gassed and then we had to put it all in for that scene of her going. Logistically as far as the CG went, they just had a spot we had to look at in that area but it was real enough in the moment with the walkers that were in that ravine making it as real as possible and giving us the extra boost we needed. Like a fresh squeezed OJ!
Other than Lucille, I think it's fair to say Jerry had one of the most badass weapons in the show. Have you been training a lot this year for that? 
I've been doing a lot of training but I've been doing weapons since I can remember. Training with different weapons, that is. An axe not so much but I try to treat it like a staff. I think once the walkers are done walking there won't be an axe but as long as there are walkers, there will be an axe!
It was recently revealed that around eighteen months will have passed between season eight and nine – what sort of impact did that have on how you approach playing Jerry?
I think Jerry now with this year and a half, there's definitely more time for him not thinking about a war and not thinking about Saviors but thinking about how we're going to build up. Now is a good time to start looking into the comfort of other people's arms, maybe! Seeing what's going to happen after that year and a half is something I think every survivor, this is what they've been working towards. Getting a chance to build this amazing future. You're going to see everyone in a place where they can almost taste that future and that's where we start this year with Jerry as well. 
In the first trailer for season nine, we saw Jerry and Nabila looking pretty happy – what can you tell us about how things are developing between those two?
As far as I know, which means not a whole lot, how I'm interpreting this relationship is that it's not one based on, 'This is our last night together, let's make the most of it.' This is a relationship where I think he's thinking of the future not just let's fight for each day. He's thinking of long-term stuff and after the war, that's something people can do now. They can actually think about the future and that's where Jerry's at with Nabila. 

Has Jerry's relationship with Ezekiel changed at all since we last saw them both? Do you see Jerry stepping up as a leader now he's no longer King? 

I don't think he needs to. I think Jerry saw King Ezekiel as much as the rest of the Kingdom did and I think Jerry is definitely stepping up for things he has to do but nothing is broke so I don't think he needs to fix anything and is happy with how everything is. Being the guy that can protect the leader is a much better job than being the leader. Jerry is someone very clear in his purpose of things and I think when you have to make choices and decide, that's a job that anyone who is good at it doesn't want to do it but they know they can and I think that's what Ezekiel is. 
Jerry obviously isn't based on a character from the comic books so has it been quite freeing for you to play someone whose fate isn't necessarily set in stone?
It feels good. Someone knows my fate but I like knowing that I don't have an expiration date, per se. I very well may but as far as the comics, I know I don't have to look forward to something. But I might! [Laughs] You never know with this show but it definitely makes it so that I get to play this character a little bit differently. Getting to play the happy character was something that we developed last-minute – everything but the casting of Jerry was last-minute – but just getting to develp that happy quality was something we thought of the night before we shot and it was definitely a change I was so happy to have as I feel like the tough guy isn't always trying to be tough. He doesn't need to show off that he is, you know? 
There's understandably been a lot of talk about Andrew Lincoln leaving the series – what was your reaction to that and how do you see it changing things moving forward?
My reaction, I was shocked. I thought it was a joke. I was in Canada when I found out and I was like, 'What's going on?' I think it's going to affect everyone. Andy is such a great leader on set and I think that's something we all try to emulate. I think, character wise, with Rick's departure, a lot of characters will try to emulate a lot of the good that he brought and do everything in his honour to do that right just like we are. This is his show and I think a lot of people are going to see the effect he had. The story, and not to sound like a broken record but the story really is not over. This is the most excited I've been for a story in years as a fan. This is going to be a really exciting season and I think it's going to be placing everyone in a different area to what we've seen. Whereas before everything we saw kind of coming in that we knew people were going to die and people would be angry as far as season eight went and we knew we were going to see moments of people really getting into it but what do we do when the world feels right and ready for us to take it back? Now, we're going to see how they deal with that. 
So, with a few familiar faces leaving The Walking Dead, do you see this as a chance of sorts to step up, develop your character, and take a larger role in proceedings? 
I think it's possible. It's one of those things where I never know what the plan is. I'm just cool with whatever they give me because I know they're not going to short change whatever they're trying to do. I say, hopefully, I would think so but I'm not sure [Laughs].
I have to ask about Shazam! - what can you tell us about your role as Billy Batson's foster father in the movie?

I can say that he's such a fun character to play. I always play some version of a happy guy but this is a fatherly version. This movie was so well-written and is one of the best scripts I've read...and I've read a few! This one was just so impressive and I feel like it connects in an actual, genuine way and I really think people are going to see why and I think they'll become attached the same way I did. As far as my character goes, I'm excited. He tells the dad jokes...he's just this good-natured guy that's not trying to impose anything on anybody. With these kids, these foster kids, there's a fine line that he has to walk to guide them and it's going to be cool. 
What were your thoughts on the trailer released during Comic-Con? 

That trailer was amazing but honestly, it was one of those trailers where I can tell you right now, that wasn't the best stuff! It shows just how good the movie is and I really think every scene was great and I think they can make a thousand trailers and I'd be happy to see them repeat the same scenes but this is going to be a lot of fun. It's a family movie and it's going to be really good.
I know you probably don't want to think about this but if you could pick the perfect death for Jerry on The Walking Dead, how do you think it would play out? 
I would like it if he stopped something monumental but no one knew about it and as he was dying from killing five hundred walkers, he just sits down by a tree, eats a cobbler, and then we back away without seeing him again [Laughs]. That would be my Jerry death if I had to pick one!
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