Jake Kearney interview on playing a Savior on The Walking Dead

Jake Kearney Photo by Jimbo Kelliher - © ©Jake Kearney
Jake Kearney Photo by Jimbo Kelliher - © ©Jake Kearney /

We talked to actor Jake Kearney on the experience of being a Savior on The Walking Dead’s 100 episode milestone and much more!

Meet the Savior who had the audacity to throw a grenade at Carol during the season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead, actor Jake Kearney. His character Nelson saw his end by way of Shiva lunch on the last episode of The Walking Dead titled ‘The Damned’… But it was all worth it!

Before he was Nelson of the Saviors, Kearney was just like one of us. Starting The Walking Dead fan site WalkerCulture.com with other fans and reporting TWD news for three rich years of fandom. After obtaining a role as one of Negan’s Saviors on season 7’s season finale during a vacation in Georgia… His life changed forever. Kearney decided to move to Atlanta and try his luck again. The rest, as they say, is history. Kearney will now always be firmly entrenched in the history of The Walking Dead forever.

UndeadWalking.com – Nir Regev: How did it feel to throw the grenade at Carol as a Savior on the show?

Jake Kearney: “It was an unreal experience. When I was told that I will be throwing a grenade at Carol the first thing that popped into my head was “Now everyone is going to hate me”. Just think that I was going to be a part of a small cliffhanger in The Walking Dead’s 100th episode, made it worth the hate!”

UD: Was Carol’s group on-set at the time or was it shot separately?

Kearney: “Yeah, I was on set while they were filming their portion of the scene. I was actually behind the camera acting it out, throwing the grenade and going through the motions for every take. But, unfortunately, filming ran late and I didn’t get to film my side of the scene on the same day. So the next day I filmed my portion by myself.”

UD: You created The Walking Dead website, WalkerCulture.com, did that contribute to obtaining a role on the show?

Kearney: “No, it didn’t help obtaining a role on the show, I got the role just like anyone else would. So the story actually goes, myself and a few other people started Walker Culture, a Walking Dead news site. We did that up until last year when it just wasn’t as fun as it used to be. I enjoyed writing and talking on our podcast about the show but I had been doing it for 3 years at that point and got bored. So I closed the website but didn’t want to disconnect with the fandom.

I previously tried to get extra roles on TWD and finally got one for the season 7 finale while I was on vacation in Georgia. I was in the scene where Negan told us (the saviors) “We’re going to war!” It was an incredible experience and I just wanted to continue doing that. So I moved to Atlanta the following April and kept auditioning and trying to get as much work as I can, and I haven’t stopped since.”

UD: What was it like playing a Gravedigger on Gale Anne Hurd’s latest production Lore?

Kearney: “It was very cool. I had never gotten a trailer on a production before then. That was actually my first show that I got when I moved down to Atlanta last April. But playing a gravedigger was very cool, I got to work with some awesome actors like Steve Coulter who played Reg in The Walking Dead. Everyone was so nice and it was a great show to work on.”

Jake Kearney Photo by Jimbo Kelliher - © ©Jake Kearney
Jake Kearney Photo by Jimbo Kelliher – © ©Jake Kearney /

UD: How did it compare to the film shoot for The Walking Dead?

Kearney: “The Walking Dead was the most surreal experience I had ever had, being such a big fan and then having a part on the show was unreal, that was the biggest difference between TWD and Lore. Also, Lore is a huge podcast and I was surprised I never heard of it before shooting, obviously I heard of TWD before shooting for it. But other than that, it was just a typical day at on set.”

UD: You have an interest in photography, web design, and action sports outside of acting. Do you keep each outside interest on an even playing field or does time management force some passions to go on hiatus as an actor?

Kearney: “Well I work at an action sports camp called Camp Woodward, so I’d say it’s the opposite. I put acting on hold while I work at Woodward for three months during the summer. Of course, I continue to audition and try to find work while I’m there, and if the right job came across I’d take it and have to leave camp for however long. But with photography and web design, I can do that whenever I’m not acting, they have pretty flexible hours.”

More from Undead Walking

UD: We know you’re a Producer on GNARtv. What can you tell us about the action sports streaming network?

Kearney: GNARtv is a streaming network, similar to Netflix, where there is a monthly fee and unlimited access to content. Right now we are working on gathering some more content before the release of the website, but so far I have personally produced and directed one show on the network.”

UD: What does the 100th episode milestone of The Walking Dead and being part of that exclusive group forever, mean to you?

Kearney: “When I first got the extra role that started it all in the season 7 finale, I realized that was the 99th episode of the show and I had hoped I could get on to the 100th. When I moved to Atlanta, I didn’t hear back from them until a week or so into May when they told me what my scene was all about and how I was going to get eaten by Shiva shortly after.”

“Then they told me it was going to be in the premiere and I was so unbelievably happy. It’s one of the greatest accomplishments in my life and it’s amazing that not only am I forever in the shows 100th episode, but I’m also one of the few that got to be eaten by Shiva!”

Jake Kearney’s Digital Work

Kearney does web design, marketing, and social media for businesses. Previously assisting Burt, creator of the TWDLocations.com website. Always good to have a real life Savior around when starting your own domain! Check out Jake’s official website at JakeKearney.com for details.

Related Story: Eugene Made the Right Choice to Join the Saviors

Huge thanks go out to Jake Kearney for taking the time to speak with Undead Walking about The Walking Dead and his other projects. Feel free to follow Kearney on Twitter @TheJakeKearney and on Instagram.