The Walking Dead celebrates 10 years of TV history on October 31, 2020. In celebration of this historic milestone, we I nterviewed several actors who have participated in the show over the years. These interviews started to be published in early September and run until the end of October, are being launched daily. When we will end with a big surprise that we prepared exclusively and with great affection for the fans.
Our guest today is Steve Coulter, who played Reg Monroe during season 5. The actor told us that he almost played another character in The Walking Dead and talked to us about discovering Reg’s death and the shooting of the scene and about working with Tovah Feldshuh. Besides that, he told us what we can expect from Father Gordon in the next Conjuring and much more!
Without further ado, check out our exclusive interview with Steve Coulter:
It’s an honour for us to talk to you in such a special moment for The Walking Dead. It’s not just any show that get to its 10th anniversary. Can you start by telling us how was the audition for the show? How did you hear about the part? Did you know the show beforehand?
Steve Coulter: Yes, it’s hard to believe it’s been on for 10 years. I remember watching the very first episode. When Rick shot the little Walker girl, I remember thinking, “This is NOT what I was expecting.” It blew me away.
I had only auditioned for the show once before, for the role of Hershel. I’m so very glad Scott Wilson got it, because he created one of the most lovable and memorable characters on television. I was fortunate to get to spend some time with Scott when we were at the same conventions. Truly one of the kindest men I’ve ever met.
When The Walking Dead sends out “sides” (those are what the audition scenes are called), they’re not from the actual script. The producers disguise them so that fans won’t get leaked story ideas. So the scene I was given to audition with took place at a fancy party in New York City, celebrating the release of a book by a famous author.
Reading the scene, I could tell that the “famous author” was Rick. A form of that scene was actually the first scene that I shot in season 5, where Deanna and Reg are having a party to welcome Rick and his group to Alexandria.
A few days after I sent my audition tape in, my agent called and said it looked like I had the role, they were just making sure I’d be a good match for the actress playing Deanna. I got the call telling me the role of Reg was mine on my birthday…pretty nice birthday present.
Alexandria went through deep social changes when the gates were opened to Rick and his group and, right now, is going through a process of new democratization with the other communities. Do you think Reg would be proud of what Alexandria has become?
Steve Coulter: I think he would be proud that it is still standing. But I think he would be very saddened by the sacrifice that it took to keep it.
The scene in which Reg shares his projects for Alexandria’s future with Noah, as well as his knowledge in architecture, is very symbolic and shows a moment of hope and union between the groups. What do you think motivated Reg to trust Rick and his group?
Steve Coulter: These are great questions, by the way. I don’t usually get asked such specific things…which I like a lot.
I believed that Reg had very good instinctive feelings about the people he met. He never had an agenda and was very comfortable in his skin. So that gave him the ability to stand back and see a situation more clearly, without pre-judgement. It was fun to play a character with so little inner conflict. He was very optimistic and saw the good in people. Of course… we know what happens to a character who expresses optimism on The Walking Dead.
Alexandria inhabitants had a distorted vision of the post-apocalyptic reality because they never had to survive outside Alexandria’s walls. Did Reg’s death impact them? Did they need the shock to understand reality for once?
Steve Coulter: I think the combination of Reg’s savage death, and Rick’s killing of Pete immediately after, woke them up. Very harshly. Especially since it was Deanna’s order that let Rick go ahead and kill. Everything changed for them after that. It was the unfortunate shock they needed to allow them to survive.
Still about Reg’s death, can you talk about how it was to shoot that scene? How and when did you find out Reg was going to die? Do you have any funny memories from this day?
Steve Coulter: It might seem odd to say that having one’s throat slashed could be “fun”, but it was indeed a great deal of fun to shoot. I found out that I was going to die a few weeks before we shot that episode. I’d received a message that Scott Gimple (the show runner) was going to be giving me a call to talk about the show. Naively, I thought he wanted to talk to me about how Reg was going to fit in to the upcoming season. Silly me.
We played phone tag for a day or so, but then I got a voicemail from him saying that he wanted to talk about what was coming up in the finale episode. As soon as I heard that message, I thought “Reg is going to die.” He finally reached me on a Saturday afternoon. When I picked up the phone, the first thing I said to Scott was,” I’m gonna die, aren’t I?” Then he very sheepishly answered, “…Yeeeeaaaaah.” Scott must have apologized eight times during the call. He said, “I’m REALLY sorry, but I promise you it’s going to be an AMAZING death, and it’s the last thing that happens in the finale episode. I was very touched by how kind he was.
We shot the scene in November and the temperature was below freezing outside, and we shot all night long. They had me hooked up to a long tube that went to a pump that would make the blood gush out of my neck when my throat was slashed by Pete. Well, the “blood” they were using (and it was a LOT of blood) was just colored water, so it was extremely cold, and we shot that part of the scene around four times. So each time my throat was slashed, and they started pumping away, it was like someone was pouring a bottle of ice water down my front.
How was it to work with Tovah Feldshuh developing Reg and Deanna? Did you know her before The Walking Dead?
Steve Coulter: Tovah was amazing to work with. We hadn’t me before, but I knew of her in New York theatre. She’s done a one-woman show about Golda Meir that was quite well known. She was a real professional. Before virtually every scene we shot, she’d get down on the floor and do about a dozen pushups to get herself energized for whatever scene we were doing.
A very vivid memory I have is when I was lying on the ground after Pete attacked me, and I was being held in Tovah’s (Deanna’s) arms. I felt the warm tears falling on my cheek. And that happened during every take.
Reg believed all they had in Alexandria would be enough to keep danger away. It was important for him that the people from the town were safe. However, danger was closer than he thought. What do you think Reg could have done to prevent the problems that ensued?
Steve Coulter: I honestly don’t think that there was anything Reg could have done. But I do think that he might have listened to Rick after a while.
Looking back at your time on the show, which one would you say was the most fun episode to shoot? What about the most challenging? Why?
Steve Coulter: I think I really enjoyed working on the episode with Noah, played by the wonderful Tyler James Williams, and particularly the scene in the gazebo. It wasn’t your typical Walking Dead scene. It was so optimistic and hopeful, and I loved how Reg was reaching out to Noah. Of course, we all know how that worked out. Tyler was terrific in the scene, and we really liked playing off each other. We shot the scene right after the sun had risen, and it was a beautiful morning. I think the most challenging was Reg’s death scene…there were just so many moving parts (blood tubes, pumps for the blood, prosthetic neck gash, etc.) to think about and also make it all seem very real and natural.
Do you remember your first day on the set? What about your last one? We’d love if you could share some details of your reception and farewell on the show!
Steve Coulter: I definitely remember my first day on the set. Even though I’d been acting for close to 25 years at the time, I was still nervous to meet all of the cast. You see, I’d been a huge fan of the show since the very first episode, and my very first scene was where the whole group is gathered at Deanna & Reg’s for a party welcoming the newcomers. The professional part of me was calm, and I focused on what I needed to do in the scene.
But inside me was a wildly enthusiastic fan who was VERY excited to meet all the different characters. I’d think to myself “there’s Rick!” or “there’s Glenn!”. Very, very fun.
Andy Lincoln was one of the very first people to introduce himself to me when I arrived…he was so remarkably welcoming. I think the cast understood that new actors are walking into a situation where everyone knows each other and they’re on a hit show. He really went out of his was to make me feel a part of the family.
Curiously, Andy was the last one to say goodbye on my last night on set. He gave me a big hug and thanked me for all my work. The entire cast and crew give you a very nice send-off…they even give you a gift bag full of memorabilia from the show.
If Reg had survived longer on the show, with which characters would you like him to interact with? Is there any actor you’d like to have worked with more closely during your time on the show?
Steve Coulter: If he had survived, I really would have liked him to get to interact with Daryl. They’re just such different characters… Reg is very comfortable in himself and very calm, while Daryl is filled with conflict and unease. I think it would have been interesting to see how they would’ve gotten along. I’d have liked to work with Melissa McBride more closely. She and I have known each other for over 20 years, and although we got to talk a good bit when we weren’t shooting, we didn’t have any scenes together.
You’ve been in many other shows, playing different kinds of characters. If you could choose one of them to be a survivor on The Walking Dead – either on the good side or the bad side – which character would you choose and why?
Steve Coulter: That’s a very interesting question. Although it would mean playing a bad guy, I think the character of General Childs in the film I did in 2016, Birth of a Nation. The character was ruthless and decisive, two qualities that I think are very necessary to survive in that world.
It’s impossible to talk to you and not mention The Conjuring. We’re very excited for the next movie and see more of Father Gordon. What can you tell us about what to expect from your character and the movie? How has it been to work with Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga on this franchise?
Steve Coulter: Because of confidentiality, I can’t say a whole lot, but I can say that Father Gordon finally goes out in the field more in this one. Usually he just gives the Warren’s their assignment (sort of like Commissioner Gordon in Batman), then stays back at his church, safe and sound. But he’s a lot more involved this time around.
Working with Patrick and Vera is ridiculously fun. It’s always a nice reunion when we get back together. Patrick and I always poke a good deal of fun at each other. They’re two of the nicest humans you could imagine.
We know the pandemic postponed a lot of projects and The Walking Dead fans are still suffering for the season finale. How did it affect you? Were any of your projects postponed? How have you been taking care of yourself?
Steve Coulter: It mainly affected the opening of a film I had done for Universal, called The Hunt. As you may have heard, it had already been postponed from its original opening, which was supposed to be last September. But the conservative media heard about the plot (rich liberals hunting “deplorables”) and they and President Trump came out against the film, not realizing that the film was a satire. The studio decided to release it nationwide in theaters on Friday, March 13th. Of course, that was the first weekend that things started to shut down because of the pandemic. Pretty lousy luck, although I hear it’s done well on Video on Demand.
I’ve been keeping my sanity (somewhat!) by writing and also doing a good bit of carpentry. Back when I was starting out as an actor in New York, I worked as a carpenter to pay the bills. A few weeks ago, I set up a workshop in the shed behind my house and have built several things. I don’t do very well, just sitting around the house, so it feels good to make stuff.
To wrap it up: here in Brazil we are particularly fond of The Walking Dead and all of its cast and crew, past and present. Brazilian fans are very passionate! Does this love get to you somehow, through
conventions or social networks? Can you send a message to your Brazilian fans?
Steve Coulter: Yes! I found out early on how passionate Brazilian fans are. Some of the very first tweets I received after appearing for the first time on the show were from Brazil. It stunned me… that’s when I realized what an effect the show had worldwide. I would love to come to Brazil one day… I grew up for several years in Colombia, but I never made it south to Brazil.
I would love to send a message. Here you go (please excuse if the translation isn’t perfect):
“Ola Brasil! Muito obrigado por todo seu apoio… significa muito. Espero visitar o brasil um dia, e talvez eu possa te encontrar. Adeus por agora!”