Lennie James, who plays pacifist Morgan Jones in the AMC zombie drama, said that viewers needed to be reminded of the “consequences of violence”.
The 51-year-old British actor told press including Express.co.uk at a recent event in London: “I think that our show – to its benefit in a big way and also sometimes not to its benefit – is in the ownership of our fans.
"And they are staggering, and they are loyal, and they are supportive, and they are generous, and they are fantastic, and they also don’t like being p***ed off.
“But part of our job is to p*** them off and that has to be in the job that we do as storytellers, as much as it is to make them care, as much as it is to make them scared, as much as it is to excite them, as much as it is to surprise them, it’s also sometimes to anger them and I don’t mind that.
“So, if they’re angry now: okay. They might not be tomorrow and that has to be part of our journey and I don’t think – and I’ll say it to anybody – I don’t say it to annoy anybody or to be bolshy to anybody, I don’t think our storytellers should be telling our story solely based on the reaction that our fans have to it."
He continued: “I do think it should be taken into consideration but it should not be the primary motivator of how we tell our story. The day that happens, I don’t want to do this show anymore, I don’t want to be a part of this show anymore because it’s the beginning of the end."
Lennie reflected on the first episode of season seven, which saw the demise of fan favourite and pizza delivery boy Glenn Rhee (played by Steven Yeun) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) at the hands of villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his barbed wire-covered baseball bat called Lucille.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan in The Walking Dead
Negan plays mind games with Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead
But part of our job is to p*** them off and that has to be in the job that we do as storytellers
“Some people thought the first episode was too violent. I thought we needed to remind people of how violent our show is and what are the consequences of violence. Let’s have that discussion, as long as we’re having that discussion we’ve done the right job,” Lennie explained.
The second half of season seven of The Walking Dead is set to be airing tonight in America before making its return to UK screens tomorrow night.
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Ahead of the comeback of The Walking Dead, Lennie promised that the show would suffer “two or three major losses” by the final episode.
Negan killed a number of characters with Lucille in The Walking Dead
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Lennie James as Morgan Jones in The Walking Dead
Just like in the comic books, there is set to an impending war against Negan and the Saviors and Lennie admitted that there would be “some surprises” over which side of the battle lines people would fall on, hinting at potential betrayals and double-crossing.
He also promised that one character would meet a “phenomenal” end in the latest run, saying that he wanted to go in a similar way when it came time for Morgan to bow out.
“We lose this someone in the second eight and that person’s out is so phenomenal that I was jealous. I was like, ‘that’s how I want to go out of this show!’ and it’s amazing,” he teased.
The Walking Dead will return tonight in the US before airing on FOX UK tomorrow evening at 9pm.