The Walking Dead Almost Had Another Great Actor For King Ezekiel

Michael on the island in Lost

It's an exciting time for AMC's The Walking Dead. The series has just begun its whopping eighth season on the network, and all out war against Negan and The Saviors has finally begun. As such, the various communities that make up the militia are a major focus of the first episodes, including King Ezekiel and his followers (including Carol) at The Kingdom. Actor Khary Payton has been absolutely delightful to watch as the larger than life leader, who puts on over the top theatrics in order to inspire his followers. But it turns out that another actor was in talks for the role, and it's someone Lost fans would have loved to see in the zombie apocalypse: Harold Perrineau, who played Michael Dawson.

This news comes to us from, who had the chance to speak with Harold Perrineau recently. Before Khary Payton was cast, there were rumors going around that Perrineau was going to play Ezekiel, and it turns out they weren't wrong- he just ended up having a scheduling conflict with the apocalyptic drama. He revealed,

There was a little bit of a talk about it. For a while there was. I was already doing something and it would've been a big juggle. Not that he's not great! There was just a talk. It was a talk and it didn't go down. I'm really excited for him.

I guess sometimes rumors come from a place of truth. Because Harold Perrineau was in talks to play the sword wielding leader of The Saviors, but it didn't work out. This made room for the eventual casting of Khary Payton, who has been very well received for his performance in the past season and change.

Although it didn't happen, Harold Perrineau probably would have made an excellent King Ezekiel in The Walking Dead. Michael was a pretty beloved character on Lost, and that largely is due to Perrineau's performance. The character disappeared, showed back up, and then killed off a few characters, so it would have been easy for the fandom to write him off. But the actor managed to keep the OG Lost character at the forefront of the fan's minds.

Additionally, Harold Perrineau's film credits have definitely made him a prime candidate for the zombie apocalypse. He famously played the role of Mercutio in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet, using a similar speaking pattern and voice to Ezekiel's theatrical voice. Plus, his role in the Matrix franchise makes him no stranger to massively popular sci-fi projects and action sequences. But because he's a bit more well known than Khary Payton, he had a schedule that was too busy for the apocalyptic drama. After all, The Walking Dead's schedule is pretty brutal.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC. And be sure to check out our fall premiere list to plan your next binge watch.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.