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Meet Perlie Armstrong, Negan’s New Foil on ‘The Walking Dead: Dead City’

Publicity image of Gaius Charles as Perlie Armstrong on AMC's 'The Walking Dead: Dead City.' We see him from the shoulders up. He is a Black man wearing a wide-brimmed fedora/cowboy hat, a black leather jacket, and a denim button-down shirt. He has a mustache and the beginnings of a beard. He is scowling sternly and looking off to the side.

Walking Dead fans have to wait until June for Dead City, the next chapter in the TWD journey. But those lucky enough to be at the show’s first WonderCon panel on Saturday got new information to chew on—including more details about a new character who will be causing Negan and Maggie all sorts of trouble.

Gaius Charles is a new cast addition to the TWD universe and he, along with showrunner Eli Jorné and star Lauren Cohan, talked about how his character’s presence affects Negan and Maggie’s journey, what might be brewing in his backstory, and how Charles acclimated to his first genre show.

Who is Perlie Armstrong?

In The Walking Dead: Dead City, Charles plays Perlie Armstrong, a marshal responsible for keeping law and order in New Babylon. Charles explains that New Babylon “is one of these states that’s come together to basically try and put the world back together.” He goes on to say that Armstrong’s “main goal and objective is to bring justice to our land, to our community, to help protect it. And one of the biggest challenges is getting this guy named Negan.”

Charles then got jokingly impassioned about a beloved character from the early part of The Walking Dead:

“Now, I don’t know if any of you remember somewhere around Season 7 I think it was? Remember a guy, a character named Glenn, by any chance? Anybody? Have we ever served justice for what [Negan] did to this man? I didn’t wanna say this, but that was my dude! You know what I mean? That was my dude! So, one of my character’s objectives is to go and get justice, but obviously I try to do that and complications come about.”

Image of Gaius Charles as Perlie Armstrong on AMC's 'The Walking Dead: Dead City.' We see him from the waist up. He is a Black man wearing a black jacket that looks like a cloak, and a grey button-down shirt. He's walking down an alley and holding a corner of his jacket with both hands. He has close-cropped hair and a mustache. He's looking sternly off to the side.
(Peter Kramer/AMC)

Gaius Charles on joining The Walking Dead Universe

While Charles is known for his work on some of TV’s biggest hits, like Grey’s Anatomy or Friday Night Lights, he’s never worked on a genre show before. He’d also never watched The Walking Dead before getting this role. But once he did get the role, he binged the entire show and became a huge fan.

“And then [after binging the show], like, I have to go act with these people now, right?” he said. “So, it was kinda cool, because I became such a huge fan of the show, but then I had to forget that to get into the role and then just have this really great discovery process of building this world, discovering these characters, building these relationships and, you know, meeting all the fans and celebrating this great body of work.”

Moderator Chris Hardwick asked Charles if he got any advice or insight from the TWD veterans he was working with. “I kinda got the boot camp,” Charles said, chuckling. “When I first joined the show I was calling—the undead—I was calling them zombies, and Lauren was like ‘No! They’re walkers. They are walkers.’ So, they helped me get into it. They were so gracious.”

Becoming Armstrong

Hardwick also brought along questions from social media. One fan asked if Charles had to learn any new skills for his role on the show. He replied:

“I had to learn how to kill walkers. This is a really physical role—that’s my humble brag. I work out a little bit!—But there’s this whole sequence where we’re fighting where I’m in this death match with a walker…and I had to learn how to interact with the walkers, how do you kill them…how do you fit into this world from a physical standpoint? And how do you have the stamina as an actor to sustain some of these things? The fight sequences that we shot, some of them were a week long! So I had to learn how to pace myself. It was just a really cool experience.”

Charles is also grateful that Cohan and her co-star, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, also act as Executive Producers on the show. “Having actors at the producer level is so great for all the other actors on the show,” he explains. “Because obviously Eli and other people have our backs, but knowing that you have actors at that level to go to, to work things out with, to talk things through, it’s just so comforting. It just creates an environment where you really get to just trust and do the work that you wanna do.”

Morgan couldn’t attend the panel, because he’s currently filming the next season of The Boys. But he sent a video greeting to the fans at WonderCon. In it, he had glowing words about Charles. “Gaius is new to this world,” he said. “We threw him into the deep end, and he has killed it.”

Jorné also talked up Charles, saying, “When I get to watch Gaius […] bring so much more to the character than was just on the page…I think you’re going to dig Perlie Armstrong.”

I think we will, too! The Walking Dead: Dead City premieres Sunday, June 18th at 10PM on AMC.

(featured image: Peter Kramer/AMC)

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Teresa Jusino (she/her) is a native New Yorker and a proud Puerto Rican, Jewish, bisexual woman with ADHD. She's been writing professionally since 2010 and was a former TMS assistant editor from 2015-18. Now, she's back as a contributing writer. When not writing about pop culture, she's writing screenplays and is the creator of your future favorite genre show. Teresa lives in L.A. with her brilliant wife. Her other great loves include: Star Trek, The Last of Us, anything by Brian K. Vaughan, and her Level 5 android Paladin named Lal.