Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Embarrassing Early Roles Of The Walking Dead Cast

Everyone has to start somewhere. Anyone who has taken a job they don't really like so they could pay the bills is aware of this fact — and actors are no different.

There are plenty of projects that seem exciting at the time, either because the director is great, or the concept is fascinating, or the role is a great fit. But there are also any number of reasons a film or TV show can turn out differently — though not always for the worse — from what people involved with the project might expect. Production is delayed, budgets change, producers and crew members shuffle, or an actor with great energy leaves the production... Anything can happen.

Or sometimes, a movie or show is just plain bad.

Whatever the case may be, all actors, no matter how much of a household name they may be today, have skeletons in their closet, or zombies on their heels. They have struggles and embarrassing appearances from their past, but these were the steps that led them to become our favorite characters. The stars of The Walking Dead, too, walked before they ran. And they tripped once or twice.

With all that in mind, let's stumble down memory lane and see if secondhand embarrassment is as contagious as a zombie virus.

Norman Reedus and the deuce that never should have dropped

Marco, the violent gang leader antagonist in 2002's Deuces Wild, is the kind of guy who would earn a beating if he ever got near the people Daryl Dixon cares about. And like the thrashing the film itself took on Rotten Tomatoes, that beating would be well-deserved. The laundry list of offenses committed by Norman Reedus' character in this disaster include orchestrating another person's overdose, assaulting the girlfriend of a rival gang leader, and... existing in the first place. Because this movie never should have been made.

The film boasts a whopping 3% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and, according to critics, "leaves no cliché unturned." How unturned, you ask? Well, the surname of Reedus' character is Vendetti, and the driving force behind his terrorization of the block is revenge. Vendetti, vendetta. Get it? To that end, the film does showcase the hardened aggression Reedus portrays so well. But in contrast with the loyal, capable Daryl, this role offers no characterization or context. The only thing Marco accomplishes (that thankfully Daryl hasn't)? Dying.

Zombies aren't the mutants Melissa McBride should be afraid of

The scariest Mutant Species of all is the 1995 movie of that name, and not scary in the way it was meant to be. It's like Captain America, but evil? A mad scientist turns an unwitting man into a mutated government killing machine, but the true killing machine threatens to be the film itself, wreaking bloody havoc on acting careers as well as the monster's victims.

This independent Predator wannabe film was Melissa McBride's first role in the horror genre. Luckily, it didn't scare her away. In fact, her role in a 2007 horror movie, Stephen King's The Mist, was what landed her the role of Carol on The Walking Deadwithout so much as an audition!

Like her character on The Walking Dead, it's clear that McBride has grown immensely as an actor since her first appearance as a minor character in Mutant Species. For better or for worse, there were so many Alien and Predator knockoffs being made during this time period that McBride's horror debut isn't as infamous as it might have been.

The Danai Gurira film that might steal your soul

Critics argued that 2010's My Soul to Take was the worst way for Wes Craven to return after a five-year hiatus. Danai Gurira, who played Jeanne-Baptiste in this flop from the horror legend, would probably agree. The premise of this film has the potential for at least an above-abysmal reception, but the execution is too ambitious at best. At worst, it's somehow both dull and overdone.

Spoilers ahead! (For My Soul to Take, not The Walking Dead.) A serial killer known as the Riverton Ripper vows to return from the grave to kill the seven children born in his town on the day he supposedly died. It is up to the viewer to decide which is less believable — the dead walking again, or seven kids being born on the same day in the same small town.

It doesn't matter, though, because pretty much everyone dies.

This might be why critics labeled the movie formulaic. How many different ways can one soul-swapping serial killer do his thing and preserve suspense at the same time? If there is an answer, this movie proves that it's less than seven.

Andrew Lincoln's offending demon

Offending Angels is infamous for taking in an embarrassingly (and historically) low amount at the U.K. box office upon its 2000 debut. This film is definitely more offending than angel in the context of Andrew Lincoln's career. In it, he plays a slacker named Sam whose pipe dreams never came close to the actor's real-world successes.

One thing Sam and TWD's Rick do have in common, however, is the brutal wake-up calls that introduce each of their stories and force them to make massive changes in their lives. Granted, there's a pretty big difference between a couple of angels (who used to be a squirrel and a dolphin, respectively) and a horde of zombies, but you can see the similarities if you squint.

Offending Angels went largely unseen by the viewing public and it remains a footnote in Lincoln's career, but it was far from a favorite with the few who did see it — one critic suggested that it was a miracle the director convinced a talented actor like Lincoln to appear in it.

Perhaps it was divine intervention.

The role Lauren Cohan would never say 'I love you' to

One of the most unforgivable sins, as old as the gods themselves, might be taking an original premise and ruining it with predictability. Unfortunately, the consensus is that the CW's Valentine, about the efforts of the ancient Greek gods to preserve love in the modern world, did exactly that. Lauren Cohan guest starred in the first episode, but thankfully, she has so far escaped both the walking dead and the immortal deities (and their failed television venture).

Though the 2008-2009 series is literally based around learning to love, audiences can definitely learn more about the subject from Maggie Rhee than from the first and only season of Valentine. The show's gods must learn how to effectively bring soulmates together and create authentic romance and intimacy in a world where love has grown mundane — failing to do so means that they will become mortal. Of course, the irony is that they can only learn how to achieve their purpose by consulting with a mortal.

It's an interesting concept, which is what makes it so frustrating that it didn't live up to its potential.

Chandler Riggs and the 'first coming'

The Walking Dead was, for Chandler Riggs, the "second coming" of the zombie genre in his career. The first was in 2006 with Jesus H. Zombie. Don't worry if the title paints a confusing picture, because the IMDb and Prime Video synopses are even worse.

Apparently, the film "keeps your knees on edge, with its grassy sense of humor and lack of chicken feet." That's pretty much everything you didn't know you wanted in a zombie feature, right? It's unclear what "grassy sense of humor" (or anything else) is supposed to mean. There is mention of "a man on a mission to defeat the beast in the ultimate sacrifice of his favorite chicken dinner," so maybe "grassy" was supposed to be "grass-fed."

Whatever the case, it would probably take longer than the movie's complete runtime (47 minutes) to make sense of all that.

Enjoying Riggs' TWD appearance is a much better use of time. In his last moments, his arc portrays him as a sacrificial savior, reminiscent of a Christ-like figure — one that definitely isn't coming back to bring a "reign of terror and IBS curing hands." (Whatever in zombie heaven that means.)

Josh McDermitt discovers what doesn't work

Work It didn't exactly perform its titular function. The show itself wasn't quite woke enough for the times, even in 2012, resulting in protests and statements from various groups. There is room for redeeming value here and there, though the general consensus is that the show didn't take advantage of it. Two car salesmen, unemployed, realize that they have to conform to the woman's world they are now living in if they want to find jobs again. So they dress up as women to earn positions as pharmaceutical sales reps, and in the process, they become better husbands and fathers and get more in touch with who they really are.

Josh McDermitt actually played two roles in the series' 13-episode run, one as a quiz emcee later in the series and another as manager in the pilot episode. Luckily for him, these were such minor roles that you would have to really dig for them. Perhaps he was inspired by the concept, though, when he took on the role of Eugene Porter, who also pretended to be something he was not out of self-preservation.

Considering that the series was once called "abominably written," that would be the greatest legacy Work It left behind.

For whom the Belles toll? Christian Serratos

Christian Serratos plays Heather Perez in Cow Belles, a 2006 Disney Channel original movie about two spoiled teenage girls learning to take over a dairy company. There can be some stigma attached to any degree of Disney stardom and the effect it has on the future of a young actor's' career, but it didn't keep Serratos from earning a spot on one of the most popular television shows in America later on.

As portrayed by Serratos, Heather is the one who points out that the girls' life has been a fairytale and alerts them to their own selfishness and its negative impact on their family and livelihood. The revelation shocks them, and essentially forms the basis for their redemption: they discover the value of thinking about people other than themselves.

That's nice, but it's safe to say that if it took them a whole movie to learn that, they would probably be two of the first victims of a zombie outbreak.

Seth Gilliam had some spilt milk worth crying over

Svetlana ran for two seasons from 2010-2011, which is a good run compared to some of the other projects covered here. The titular character is a mail-order bride from the former Soviet Union who arrives in Minnesota, leaves her husband, and opens a brothel in Los Angeles. It's a very inspiring survival story, for sure, and the series features endearing if campy episode titles such as "Out of Here Like Vladimir!" and "Water-Board Certified," as well as bewildering and racy ones like "Sex Faces" and "Ointment." Maybe TV just wasn't ready.

In the second season episode "Milking It," Svetlana orchestrates the adoption of a Haitian infant for another friend who wanted a baby. However, it is an adult Seth Gilliam, playing Tomas, who arrives. It was a classic, and therefore somewhat predictable, sitcom mix-up. Gilliam's career trajectory is anything but infant, however. And regardless of its success, "Milking It" echoes the lesson that Svetlana itself offers: All bets are off when you order people in the mail.

Ross Marquand goes from talking dog to Walking Dead

While Dog with a Blog wasn't panned by critics, Ross Marquand's role, credited as "Talking Dog," probably isn't listed at the top of his resume. It's certainly at the halfway mark or below. He appears — or, rather, is heard — in the season one episode "My Parents Posted What?!" from 2013.

But maybe the role is something to brag about. After all, the "Talking Dog" voiced by Marquand ends up conquering Stan, the dog with the blog himself, in an animal talent show. Stan's talent is dancing, and the Talking Dog's talent is, well, you can probably guess. Without Marquand doing the talking, the victory would never have been possible.

The talent show is only a secondary plot, though — nothing compared to what Marquand would go on to do two years later on The Walking Dead. In context, the role of a talking dog on a Disney Channel show isn't nearly such a point of pride.

Khary Payton's most minimal awesomeness

A film entitled The Legend of Awesomest Maximus sets the bar pretty high for itself. Unfortunately, the awesomeness was just that: a legend, and nothing more. In reality, this 2011 movie was ridiculous and campy. In that regard, the film seems to be an outlier in Khary Payton's career, which includes roles on General Hospital and as Cyborg in various video games, movies, and TV shows in the DC Comics Universe. But Awesomest is simply comical at best. The makeup and costuming looks like a middle school play in many scenes, with humor to match.

Payton's character does have a pretty cool name, though: King Erotic. This is mostly what the film has to offer: sort of funny, sort of interesting titles and names, and not much else of value. It wasn't a role befitting royalty. Thankfully, he got another chance to be a king of sorts as "King" Ezekiel on The Walking Dead.

Sonequa Martin-Green's "dark side"

While she certainly pulls off the weird rectangular-shaped space helmet from the 2014 film, there's not much else that would inspire Sonequa Martin-Green to boast about her role in Shockwave Darkside. Despite pulling it off, there's no telling how many hours and takes she had to endure with that helmet on. For that reason alone, it's a good bet that she would choose a zombie apocalypse, real or dramatized, over a repeat of that ordeal.

On top of that, the film is riddled with over-explanatory dialogue that, at the same time, doesn't really explain anything. Religion is outlawed, but that doesn't stop the actors from spending a good chunk of the 92-minute film discussing it, and just about everything else under the sun (or moon). The film came out in 2014, attempting to portray a time far in the future, but was technically and theatrically stuck in the past. That's probably where it belongs.

Misunderstanding Jeffrey Dean Morgan

The poor reviews of 2011's Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding should not be the measure by which critics or audiences judge Jeffrey Dean Morgan's career. The movie was filmed in Woodstock, which is perhaps the only source of the alleged "peace and love." According to critics, the bulk of it consists of misunderstanding, as most of the laughs in this comedy are unintentional rather than planned.

That's never what one wants to hear. It is essentially the difference between someone "laughing at you" versus "laughing with you." Morgan plays a handsome carpenter-singer, but even this wasn't enough to woo most audiences. Comedy and looks, though, aren't the only things in his repertoire. He is best known for thrilling roles in science fiction and fantasy, such as Supernatural and, of course, The Walking Dead, where his character couldn't be further from a genial, musical carpenter. And in his portrayal of Negan, there is no room for "misunderstanding" of his abilities as an actor.

Tom Payne's lost game

Hopefully there's some kind of mind game that's helped Tom Payne forget the 2015 movie MindGamers, one of those ripoffs of more successful futuristic movies that should probably be left in the past. The film centers around a group of students who attempt to create a collective consciousness through a quantum computer in the hopes of transferring skills and knowledge across humanity. (Or you could bring together and lead people in a concrete and meaningful way, like Payne did as Jesus on The Walking Dead.) However, their wireless neural network experiment is actually a part of something broader and more sinister.

Aside from the clichés of the premise, the movie itself actually was a part of something bigger. A production unit for Red Bull released an escape room game based on the film, and then it was announced that a thousand viewers would be part of a real-life experiment during the screening of the film, wearing "cognition headbands" to collect simultaneous data on their brain activity and upload it to "the cloud" during viewing. Forbes stated that MindGamers blurred the line between science and entertainment, but the degree to which science actually factored in is up in the air (or the cloud).