Danai Gurira The Walking Dead

While ‘The Walking Dead’ usually has over a dozen major characters at any given time, for most fans, there were– until recently– six that were really considered integral, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), Maggie Rhee (Lauren Cohan), Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), and Michonne (just “Michonne,” like “Cher”, Danai Gurira).  But in the past two years, the show has written off the first three for various reasons.  Andrew Lincoln wanted to spend more time with his family, who live in England.  After a tense salary stand-off, Cohan took a job as the lead on a different show– ABC’s ‘Whiskey Cavalier’.  Only Carl’s death was decided by the show’s writers and producers.  That leaves just three members of the core squad, who have either been there from the beginning or at least for a very long time.  Can the show survive losing another?

We may soon find out, as Danai Gurira’s status is up in the air at the moment.  AMC just announced that the series would return for a tenth season and disclosed the deals made with Reedus and McBride, whose characters are being elevated following the departures of Lincoln and Cohan.  But there has been no news regarding Gurira’s status.

Reedus’ Daryl will now be the focus of the show.  Because of that, he will now make $350,000 per episode, plus additional guarantees and advances, with insiders projecting that his contract is now worth $50 to $90 million.

Meanwhile, McBride’s new deal is reportedly worth $20 million over three years.  Both Reedus and McBride’s contracts encompass more than the core ‘Walking Dead’ series, as AMC is seeking to expand this universe, with former showrunner Scott M. Gimple overseeing new endeavors that include additional series, Internet-based content, miniseries, and movies.  That means that both actors and their characters could leave ‘The Walking Dead’ and move to a different ‘Walking Dead’ projects and still get paid the same amount.  Lincoln left the show, but will return in a trio of TV movies.  The same could potentially be done for Carol or Daryl.

Both Reedus and McBride started off as recurring in the first season and were bumped to regulars in Season 2.  They both made $8,500 an episode then.

But what about Gurira?  On the call sheets, Lincoln’s name was #1, followed by Reedus, Cohan, and then Gurira, ahead of McBride.  Having been a fan favorite since her introduction in Season 3, Michonne could have just as easily been repositioned as the show’s lead as Daryl.

But Gurira’s star is on the rise.  She landed the plum role of Okoye, leader of the Dora Milaje, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and appeared in the two highest-grossing movies of 2018, ‘Black Panther’ and ‘Avengers: Infinity War’.  She also has a role in the upcoming ‘Godzilla Vs. Kong‘.

Regarding Gurira’s status, AMC programming president David Madden said:

“She has been very vocal about saying that she loves the show. We love Danai; we love that character. Right now, she’s got a lot of opportunities and she needs to weigh what she feels is best for her. But we certainly would want her on the show as long as she wants to be on it.  We really want her to stay. She is an incredibly valuable character and I’m really hoping she stays. Obviously, the lesson of Andy [Lincoln] is that the show can survive anybody’s departure if need be but that’s not our goal. The goal is to have Danai continue on whatever basis she can make work, given the other things that she has going on in her life.”

When asked in September, how much longer she saw herself on the show, Gurira vaguely responded, “I can’t share that at this moment.”

What do you think?  Could you bear to see Michonne leave the series?  Would the show be able to go on after losing another of its leads?

Source: The Hollywood Reporter