Kaffe4200 is responsible for this interview, conducted on March 17, 2013.

Lew Temple is an American actor who portrayed Axel on AMC's The Walking Dead.

Lew Temple
Lew Temple

TWD Wiki: Hello!

So nice to have a visit with you, I am really excited to be able to answer your questions. The experience of being part of The Walking Dead has been such a gift, and something I am proud of. I have never been attached to something that is such a phenomena, with such a supportive and devout audience.

TWD Wiki: Did you watch the show or read the graphic novel, prior to your casting?

I was aware of the graphic novel, as it was brought to me some time ago. Based on my participation in the horror genre, I am usually made aware of such material one way or another. I thought it was done very well, and when I heard that a television series was going to be produced, I was curious as to if they were going to be able to pull off the grittiness and intensity of Robert Kirkman's graphic novel. Obviously my concerned were answered the very first episode. I did watch the show, as I was interested in what the tone of the work was, and was quite impressed.

TWD Wiki: Will you continue watching The Walking Dead?

I thought the show was over when Axel was killed, and was surprised to see it airing the following week. Just kidding. Now being a part of The Walking Dead forever, of course I will always tune in to keep up with the events of the series. I am a fan as well, so I have an interest in what direction my cast mates and writer friends will take. Absolutely I will be front and center every Sunday night, just like the rest of the Audience.

Temple and crEW
Lew Temple and his cast mates.

TWD Wiki: What is the atmosphere like on the set of such a serious, dramatic show?

You can only imagine how intense each day is. The great thing about this production is that nobody ever rests on their laurels. In other wards , each day everyone shows up to make a better day than that before it. This is incredibly unique, and I think one of the reasons that the show has such success. Old fashion hard work. We are all very close, like a family. We look out for each other, and try to take care of each other. This breeds a lot of familiarity, and with that a lot of laughing, some crying as well. We know each other very well, and we bring ourselves to the party every day. It is an amazing experience. Keep in mind, that though the topic matter is desperate, generally everybody is happy to be there. Norman makes us all smile, we all make him smile. Andy is our leader, and he is just a prince.

TWD Wiki: Do you have any interesting or funny stories from your time on the set?

Every day is interesting and funny in one way or another. I think that my very first day on set was rather amusing. We, the prisoners had been cast, and we had showed up to set to go to work. Because of the spoiler protection, we were given faux side and call sheets for the day. I was confused, as I not only did not see Andrew Lincoln's name on the call sheet, not did I see Rick Grimes. I thought, damn, I have been duped! I have been cast in a webisode for The Walking Dead. The real dudes are not even here. Soon enough here came Andy and Norman to introduce themselves, and we went to work. I also think it is funny that you get desensitized to the Walkers. You will be standing around with them all day and having a very enjoyable conversation between takes, and never think twice about their appearance. Then at the end of the day when they are out of their prosthetics, they come up to you, and you look and say, that was you? It is cool, and exactly how life should be, full of surprises.

TWD Wiki: What was the best thing about working on The Walking Dead?

Working on The Walking Dead! What I mean to say, is that the opportunity to work with such a talented, hard working group was a delight. I have never been involved with a production that puts out as much effort to bring a great product to it's audience. I mean to every department, from Producers to Writers to Director to The Cast to Camera Dept, Hair and Makeup to Wardrobe to Edit and Post. It is an eye opening experience to see a group come together and achieve what The Walking Dead does every week. I am also personally proud to have been part of a movement on television. A part of television history if you will. And hopefully Axel will be remembered as an important part of that movement.

TWD Wiki: If you could choose one actor from The Walking Dead to work with again, who would it be?

That is not an easy question. How is it possible to answer. I would suppose I have to break it down to genre's. I would like to do a drama with Andrew Lincoln, a comedy with Norman Reedus, a romance with Lauren Cohan, a musical with Steven Yeun, an animated feature with Chandler Riggs, a western with Scott Wilson, a Bond film with David Morrissey, an action with Chad Coleman and a concert with Emily Kinney. How is that...oh and of course Vincent Ward would be my partner in all of these.

TWD Wiki: How did you prepare for the role of Axel?

Good Axel pic
Lew Temple as Axel.

Great question. You should know that as I was brought into the show, I was not entirely aware that I was doing Axel. I was under the impression that I was doing another prisoner, who was going to be a kidnapper, who takes a young girl from the survivors into the woods as an angel of mercy to stop this apocalypse. Really? So when I was told I was to be doing this character that was actually from the graphic novel, Axel, I had to change gears. I was aware that he was gregarious, and light hearted. I wanted him to be fun, bring some levity to this world of confusion. He was someone that had a certain southern colloquialism for me, and it was important to hide a few of his ingredients. He was supposed to
be an ex-junky, so I wanted him to be on the verge of losing it,
or "white knuckling" or was he....

TWD Wiki: Do you know of anyone else who was considered for the role of Axel?

I really don't. I think I heard that they had talked to Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen. Kidding. I had seen on the Internet some folks that the fans thought would be great, and I thought they were all great choices. In the end I think I was a good choice, because I know Axel, and I know what the group of survivors needed from Axel. I hope the audience feels like production made the right choice.

TWD Wiki: Do you think Axel was telling the truth about the toy gun, or just saying it to get Carol to like him?

That is the great question of Axel's truth is it not. Was he telling the truth about liking his pharmaceuticals, or the armed robbery? Or is Axel a pathological liar? What else is he hiding? These were the colors I was trying to keep in reserve for the writers if in fact they wanted to go off in a un-nerving direction with Axel. That he may have been something that he did not portray. But on the day, with Carol, he was telling the truth about the toy guy. He finally felt comfortable enough with somebody to allow a bit about himself. And in this ridiculous manner, he was able to connect with her, without caution. I think he was really trying, and very genuine and charming.

TWD Wiki: We were just getting to know Axel. Do you think there was more for us to discover, if not for his abrupt death?

Absolutely. We have talked a bit about some of the ingredients that were not on the label with Axel. He was somebody that I think would have served the group of survivors in a variety of ways. I think he would have been a good handy man, in a mechanical type of way, perhaps like Dale was. I think he and Darryl would have had a good relationship based on abusive brothers. I think he would have held Rick accountable for Oscar's death. And of course he was starting to connect with Carol, and continue to give her confidence. Yes we were going to get to enjoy getting to know Axel. And then there are his secrets, and what he may have been hiding. As I said, I was always holding back some "fangs" in reserve for the writers to have access to if they chose. Even as to how he dressed, buttoned up, just a tattoo showing on his neck, what was underneath? Probably Henry Rollins...interesting indeed.

TWD Wiki: Do you have any idea why Axel was killed off so early, despite being a fan favorite? Do you think he should have lasted longer?

I know how Axel's demise was presented to me by the show runner, Glen Mazzara. I of course appealed to give him more time, and that was my desire. I did want Axel to have more time, as I thought there was more to gain from him. He had more story. That being said, it is interesting that the audience informs the show a great deal, just as the show informs the audience. In the case of Axel's death, this was a message, don't forget this is a dangerous world. don't get too attached to any one character, because they can be taken from you. When the decision was made, it was based on the idea that the Governor was coming, and he need to get retribution for losing an eye. He needed to have a victim, and it needed to be somebody that was going to hurt. We also wanted it to come as a "Gut Punch", and hopefully we accomplished that.

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Axel, as he is shot in the head.

TWD Wiki: What was it like to be shot and used as a human shield?

I was actually not there that day with the war at the prison. They had an amazing mannequin in my place. Greg Nicotero the special effects genius had built a replica of me to take those bullet hits, and it was incredible how much it looked like me laying there. By the way, Greg used his own head and face for the life-cast, and it was uncanny how well it turned out. You would never know it was not me. As for Axel's thought being a human shield for Carol, I think he would have wanted to save her in that way, done his part to protect the group in this event. And give Carol some wherewith all to be able to take cover with someone she was just having a pleasant conversation with. I think he died a hero.

TWD Wiki: Would you like to return to the show at some point, in a different role?

I don't think so, and I only say that because I think that would be cheating on my man Axel. As I have said, I Lew Temple, would like to still be on the show, working with my friends.I will hopefully work again, but mostly, I am disappointed for Axel. He had more to give. I would want to come back for him. Possibly a flashback, a dream sequence or a vision of sorts.

TWD Wiki: If a zombie apocalypse were to happen, would you rather be in Woodbury or the Prison?

I think that Axel clearly found comfort in the Prison. He relished the regimentation and routine of being told how to live. It gave him peace. I myself would probably appreciate the hope of a small community, like Waterbury. Not so sure about the democracy that it is depicting, but I am sure that will sort itself out.

TWD Wiki: Are you currently working on anything interesting that you can reveal?

I am really excited about The Lone Ranger (with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, directed by Gore Verbinski), due out this July. It is going to be a real romp. We have traded pirates and ships for cowboys and horses. It was such a boy's dream to work on. Riding, roping and shooting. Camping out by the fire. I went from riding a horse to possibly eating one on The Walking Dead.

I am also very thrilled about a film, A Fighting Season (with Clayne Crawford, directed by Oden Roberts), this is Hurt Locker meets Training Day. It is about a small town Army recruiting office and the abuse that takes place their. I am thinking this will be a perfect film for the Cannes and Sundance Festivals.

Also a wonderful horror-conspiracy-road trip thriller, Zombex (with Malcolm McDowell and Sid Haig, directed by Jesse Dayton), I had a great time doing this character, Aldous Huxtable, a libertarian DJ, who uncovers a post traumatic stress pharmaceutical provided by the government, that goes rogue and change people into...you guessed it...check it out soon.

Also look for Night Moves (Dakota Fanning, Jesse Eisenberg and Peter Saarsgard), Monica (Carmen Electra, Estelita Quintero and Ashley Ferrer) Monika (Cerina Vincent), Home (Heather Langencamp) and House of Forbidden Secrets (Todd Sheets).

TWD Wiki: Of all beards on The Walking Dead, Axel won the prize, you follow me? How long did it take to get a mustache like that?

Home Pic Promo 1
Axel and Carol

Well that came originally from when I was shooting The Lone Ranger. I was still working on that project when I got cast as Axel in The Walking Dead, so I was unable to shave. They said, that is great for Axel, and it just morphed into it's own character. It was a good eight months in the making. I think Axelstache has more followers on twitter than I do. I have left all of my moustache wax to Herschel perhaps he can use it on his pony tail. I have heard that Carl may take Axel's stache and wear it to impress Beth. A young fan, Amanda, offered to the other day:I must- ache you a question, but I will shave it for later...You Follow Me...


Related Interviews
To read an interview with Theodus Crane, Axel's fellow prisoner Big Tiny, click here.

To read an interview with Vincent Ward, Axel's fellow prisoner Oscar, click here.

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