The Walking Dead Actor Explains How His Shocking Return Came About


The Walking Dead season 8, episode 2, “The Damned” dropped a massive surprise – the return of Morales, a character not seen since the penultimate episode of season 1! Fans have often wondered what happened to the former family man in the years since he left Atlanta and now, we finally know.

But how did this unlikely return come about? Actor Juan Gabriel Pareja explained to EW that he was initially contacted by The Walking Dead‘s casting people a whole two months before he got the call confirming his return. During the wait, Pareja decided to do something constructive with his time and hit the gym pretty hard.

“I think it might have been in April, I got a call from the casting officers up in Canada reaching out and basically testing the waters to see if there would be any interest on my part to return to the show. And as I continued as a watcher and a fan of the show, I perhaps a little too eagerly accepted! After they spoke with my reps for a little bit, it was still kind of an up-in-the air thing.

It was not a conclusive done deal. It was basically just kind of like, “Well, maybe in two months we might be giving you a call, we just wanted to see if you would be interested if that were the case.” . . . I was able to get about two months of hard work in the gym to get ready for that moment, and then sure enough, as the date approached, we got the call saying that yes, it is a done deal. But I was still very much in the dark about to what capacity and to what degree, so it was just a blind step in that direction.”

Just as the actor has undergone a physical transformation, his character Morales is a totally different man from when we last saw him. For unknown reasons, he’s no longer with his family and has been indoctrinated into the Saviors, turning on Rick and working for Negan.

Pareja went on to tease that we’ll find out a little more about what Morales has been through that’s caused him to change so much.

“I can’t say too much, but we’ll definitely learn a little bit of a backstory from Morales and what’s been going on with him over the years, and a little bit of what’s lead to his transformation and transition into one of Negan’s men as a Savior.”

Episode 2 ended with Morales scuppering Rick’s plans to attack the Saviors, with Andrew Lincoln’s character left with his old friend pointing a gun at him. What happens next, though? Well, we’ll find out when The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, November 5th.