Cast your mind back to The Walking Dead season 9’s midseason finale, “Evolution,” which revealed the truth behind the threat of the Whisperers for the first time. It also marked the death of Paul “Jesus” Rovia, who’d been a regular on the series since halfway through season 6. This came as a blow to fans as no such fate awaited the character in the comics, but for actor Tom Payne, it was the right time to leave the show.
The British star has been open about his reasons for wanting to move on from TWD in the past, and in a new interview with ComicBook.com, he elaborated further. Payne explained that he felt Jesus’ storyline wasn’t going anywhere, so he made the tough decision to move on.
“Ultimately it came down to just happiness in my job, and I was just like, ‘Well, I’ve done this for three years,’ and that was the longest I’ve ever done any acting job,” Payne said. “And I had kind of done everything that I wanted to do on the show, and I didn’t really see the point in hanging around and just waiting for something to happen. We’d done some fight stuff which was really cool, but it didn’t seem like it was really going to go — his storyline wasn’t going to develop much.”
He went on to add that he’d grown tired of the nature of the series – a large cast of characters each wrestling for a chunk of the screentime – and so that was that.
“And everyone is like jockeying for position on that show and waiting for their time to shine, and I was just kind of over it, really.”
Payne has previously voiced frustration with how many of Jesus’ best moments from the comics weren’t replicated on screen in the show. For instance, his big fight with Negan. Also, the actor went on an intense training regime to stay in shape to perform Jesus’ patented martial arts prowess, but in the end he rarely got to show off the character’s skills. That said, it’s not like there’s any bad blood between the TWD team and Payne, as he returned for a cameo appearance via flashback in a later episode of season 9.
While Jesus may be gone for good, another character last seen in season 9 is back in the delayed The Walking Dead season 10 finale – Lauren Cohan’s Maggie. Be sure to catch that on AMC sometime later this year.