Walking Dead Exclusive: Is Glenn the Group's Next Leader?

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While we still marvel at the creative ways zombies get offed in The Walking Dead, there is just as much amazement in some of the performances coming out of the AMC hit series.

A perfect example is Steven Yeun, who is doing some of his best dramatic work as Glenn. So filled with rage and vengeance over the happenings at Woodbury, tonight's episode will have you wondering if Glenn is going to go off the deep end like Rick.

We jumped on the phone with Yeun late last week to find out if Glenn is ready to lead the pack of survivors... or if his rage  isgoing to be the end of him and his relationship with Maggie.

Steven Yeun Promotional Photo

TV Fanatic: On this week's episode, Rick continues to lose his mind, so is Glenn going to have to step up? Without Daryl around, it seems he’s the next to step into that leader role.
Steven Yeun: Glenn is in a really unique position now. Yes, as you go down the hierarchy or what the viewer might see as the next in line, you may see Glenn. But I don’t know that he’s the cleaner-cut next leader. Glenn is a young man still. Yes, he puts in his due but right now he’s fueled by nothing other than rage and if that’s the case maybe he isn’t ready to be leader yet. Maybe this is all part of his growth.

There’s a scene [in "Home"] where Glenn says ‘with Daryl gone and Rick in Crazyville I’m the next in charge.’ I think there’s a semblance from Herschel that is ‘You’re the next in charge? Who said that?’ It’s interesting because it’s ‘who made you leader?’ It’s all part of the process of what Glenn is going through.

TVF: Herschel said last week that he sees Glenn like a son. Does Glenn see Herschel as a father figure?
SY: For Glenn, a lot of this stuff is new. The way that I’ve viewed Glenn in the past is under appreciated but he wasn’t raised to understand love. That’s what makes him in season two even reject Maggie initially. I think growing up, Glenn had loving parents but he didn’t understand that. I view Glenn as a pizza delivery dude, not for lack of talent but for lack of pride.

The apocalypse opens up Glenn in terms of ‘I can live for this. I can live for that.’ Or ‘I can be this for these people’ and that even opens up the door of ‘I can be appreciated. I can be loved.’ But it takes time. Even with Herschel…Glenn doesn’t at this point have any other actual family. His family is here. That’s one thing I love about Glenn. He’s constantly evolving.

TVF: With all the rage and thirst for revenge, is it all about Woodbury or also just some of the pressure of this world that he’s living in?
SY: It was kind of coming. You can even see Glenn at the end of the second season when he challenges Rick. When there were walkers in the barn, he said ‘Why didn’t you tell us when you found out that we’re all infected? Why would you not tell us that?’ Even at the end when Rick says it’s not a Democracy anymore, you see Glenn processing that in his head and thinking ‘What can I trust now?’

I think in the second season you see Glenn realizing ‘maybe the only person that I can truly trust is myself.’ I don’t know if he puts that into action yet but definitely with Woodbury it breaks the camel’s back and, for Glenn, it’s like ‘nobody knows what’s good for anyone except myself.’ That’s where he operates from. At a young age, you do something brash like that and you think you’re right, you don’t know and that’s what I enjoy. Glenn is kind of in this innate, naïve place.

TVF: Where will we see things go with Maggie? They’re definitely handling the Woodbury incident differently but I don’t think I’m alone in rooting for them to make it as a couple!
SY: What’s interesting about the dynamic at this point is in his head, she’s the victim. She has been victimized by a traumatic event where she’s been violated. He didn’t know to what exact extent and he can only go by what she says. I don’t know if he doesn’t believe her or not but he did see her brought into the room topless and he did see her topless and crying and he did see the Governor touch her in a really weird and inappropriate way. To see that, you can be a man who will listen to his significant other in all circumstances but your mind definitely wanders.

Your mind goes to places you don’t want it to but you find that significant others of those who have been victimized continue to victimize them because they feel that they have to protect them. Their response is ‘how do I get back at this person?’ and ‘let me take this person who’s been victimized, put them behind me because I know what’s good for them.’ In that, he’s slowly pushing Maggie away because he speaks for her and tells her what’s good for her and nobody wants to hear that. I guess we’ll see how far that goes and what the breaking point for that is.

TVF: You’re really doing great dramatic work on the show but I know you started in the world of comedy. Are the two worlds more related than one might think?
SY: I think they’re pretty hand-in-hand. In improv and comedy, the clear through-line that they always taught was to be honest and truthful and the comedy comes out of honest situations. It’s funny because the situation is realistic but it’s what I was striving for in comedy coming up and, I guess, in doing drama and being put in this arena forced me to dig deep into that. I do remember the first season really trying to say any laugh line that I ever received as Glenn very, very toned down. Also, I’m surrounded by amazing actors so I think maybe osmosis.

Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.

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