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Khary Payton may be 'blubbering mess' after 'Walking Dead' finale

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Khary Payton's "The Walking Dead" will wrap up its 11th and final season Sunday. Photo courtesy of AMC
Khary Payton's "The Walking Dead" will wrap up its 11th and final season Sunday. Photo courtesy of AMC

NEW YORK, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- Khary Payton filmed Sunday's The Walking Dead series finale months ago, but he says he still hasn't processed how he feels about all of it ending.

Payton's character, Ezekiel, was last seen with a handful of other longtime characters -- Darryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Judith (Cailey Fleming) -- trapped by hordes of ravenous flesh-eaters after they attempted to wrestle control of the Commonwealth community from tyrannical Gov. Pamela Milton (Laila Robins).

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Darryl, Negan and Maggie are widely considered by fans to be safe since AMC has announced they will star in zombie apocalypse spinoff shows of their own after the finale airs.

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Whether the other characters live or die is expected to be revealed Sunday.

"We're not teasing a thing. You've waited 12 years for this episode!" Payton told UPI in a recent Zoom interview.

"I'm telling you nothing," he said. "Patience is a virtue."

Even for actors whose characters survive, there likely will be a feeling of tremendous loss because the show is wrapping after 11 seasons.

"I've still not mourned the end of this whole thing. I'm not sure I will. Maybe when I see everyone at the finale, I will finally have some kind of cathartic experience," Payton said.

"Christian tried to do this two years ago when we started filming this last season. She started to tear up and I said: 'Don't you do it, girl! I am not going to cry for two years.' I think I shut it down. I might just end up being a blubbering mess on Sunday, but I've yet to truly come to terms with letting this go."

Gilliam said the work on the show may be complete, but his attachment to his character, Father Gabriel, and the cast and crew with whom he has worked for so many years isn't.

"The relationships aren't over. The show hasn't finally finished airing. There's still a finish line ahead, so I'm not going to sit down and unpack my bags just yet," Gilliam said. "I'll cross the finish line and see how I feel late Sunday night."

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Ridloff, who is deaf and plays reporter Connie, described her feelings through an American Sign Language interpreter as "a real long goodbye."

"We finished shooting this in April and since then I've seen Seth, I've seen Norman. I've seen other castmates every now and then. We get together to do a lot of interviews like this and now the show is coming out, so it hasn't really sunk in yet," she said.

"I'm really looking forward to this Sunday because that actually means finally, hopefully, most of the cast will be able to get together and look back on all of the work that we've done. It's such a huge honor to be a part of this. This is a cultural phenomenon, in my opinion, and I was part of that narrative."

Ridloff said she has seen the final episode.

"The finale is huge and I think the viewers will feel content and satisfied," she said.

"But at the same time, I don't want people to expect a nice bow at the very end because it is still going to go on, just like real life. Nothing really ends."

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