Interview: Khary Payton, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, and Eleanor Matsuura Talks Working With Michael James Shaw

Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko, Michael James Shaw as Mercer – The Walking Dead _ Season 11, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Fans of The Walking Dead are going to be in for a treat tonight when the season 11 premiere airs.

The highest ranking security guard, Mercer will make his long awaited debut on tonight’s episode. Earlier this year, It was announced that Michael James Shaw will play as Mercer. In issue #177 of The Walking Dead, Mercer was introduced for the first time. Additionally, he appears on the cover of that issue.

There is more to Michael James Shaw than playing the character. On this exclusive that happened during the virtual press junket, I asked Eleanor Matsuura, Melissa McBride, Khary Payton, and Josh McDermitt what was it like to work with him. The cast dished out some details about their experience working with Michael James Shaw.

Eleanor: “He’s a Big Guy. I know Mercer is from the comics and all, but if there was anyone that could be an incarnation of him, that’s Michael. He’s built and he could hit me out with one hand and throw me around. And then you work with him, he is the sweetest, softest, funniest, and nervous kind of guy. He is the opposite of what you expect him to be. And then when he is Mercer, it is like “woah, he is so cool.” I love it when you work with people who are different from their character.”

Melissa: “Someone else that is like that is Cassidy McClincy. When she is on the set, she is in the mood of raw and full of emotion. Then when the director yells ‘cut’, she falls apart laughing. She is pure fun and joy when I worked with her. Cassidy and Michael are obviously different, but I can see the comparison between them when they are in character and not in character. Michael is a sweetheart and that tall man brings a unique aura to the show.”

Khary: “Those are really great examples! I do not recognize Cassidy sometimes when we are on set. When she plays Lydia, her smile goes away. I remember looking at her and not recognizing her for a minute because I’m just not used to seeing that bubbly version of herself. Michael is the same way. You come upon this huge bear of a man as you slowly get to know him. Its like when you come up to him and you think you should be on your guard or he might throw all kinds of testosterone on you. By the end of the day, you wonder how I can get this big bear of a man into my arms because I want to hold him like a baby! But he is just too big.”

Melissa: “I would like to see you hold him like a baby Khary!”

Khary: “I know!”

Eleanor: “There’s four of us that need to try to hug him!”

Josh: “We did scenes with him and his size and intimidation as the Mercer character really suits him. The thing that struck me with him Julian, is his performance. This is a guy we just spent the last few minutes talking about his size and he can certainly do his performance that way. When I was acting across from him, he had this intensity in him when he speaks and when he changes his facial expressions. Then when it was time to cut, it was the slightest change to the softness and I appreciate that. He is a tremendous actor and a wonderful human being. I am sad that this is our final season and that we didn’t get to have more seasons with him!”

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Julian Cannon

Writer and Media Journalist for Alternativemindz since 2012. I Cover the latest in Pop Culture, Video Games, Comics, Pro Wrestling and much more.