The Walking Dead Jayson Warner Smith talks about Gavin and The Saviors

Jayson Warner Smith as Gavin - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Jayson Warner Smith as Gavin - The Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 13 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

On The Walking Dead not all of The Saviors are true believers in Negan’s cause. We talked with Jayson Warner Smith, who plays Gavin, to get more insight about The Saviors.

Negan likes to think of himself as someone providing a service on The Walking Dead. And in some ways he does provide the service of keeping people safe. But following his rules is a hefty price to pay.

One of his top lieutenants, Gavin tolerates Negan and follows the rules but he doesn’t fall into the rank and file of true believers within The Sanctuary. He’s happiest being as far away from Negan as possible.

Recently we had the chance to talk with Jayson Warner Smith, who plays Gavin, to find out more about the character who really seems to be the most reasonable among The Saviors. Gavin does his job for Negan and does it well. But Gavin also seems as if he doesn’t really agree entirely with the way that Negan does things.

Here’s what Jayson Warner Smith shared with us about Gavin and his feelings about Negan and the other Saviors:

A Passion For Theatre

Jayson shared that he’s been acting since he was 9. He started out doing children’s theatre at Cobb Children’s Theatre, that was started by his mother. Even though he does act in other mediums like TV he still prefers theatre and does theatre work when he can. His most recent theatre run was in the play Glengarry Glenn Ross this past August at Pinch “N” Ouch Theatre in Atlanta.

He said that what he loves the most about doing theatre is the energy that comes from performing in front of a life audience. And he also loves the camaraderie among the actors doing a live stage performance.

When I asked him if he was a fan of The Walking Dead before taking the role of Gavin, Jayson said,” I did watch the show and was a fan before auditioning. I just don’t like horror and gore.”

Would Gavin Want To Lead The Saviors?

When The Saviors were trapped inside The Sanctuary and it looked like Negan wasn’t going to make it out alive The Saviors started fighting about what to do. That raised a question about who among them would have taken over if Negan had died. Would Gavin want to step in and become the leader?

Jayson said that maybe Gavin would have wanted to take control. But if he did take control it would have to bring a more moderate leadership to The Sanctuary. He said that if Negan had died there would have been civil war between the lieutenants: Simon, Regina, Dwight and Gavin. And that Simon is really more violent than Negan, so things would have been very tense among the core leadership group of the top ranks of The Saviors.

He added that Gavin would have been an effective middle of the road leader. He believes people are a resource and he wouldn’t waste that resource. But, if violence was called for he would do it without question. As a last resort.

Violence Isn’t Personal For Gavin

Gavin has always seemed to be all about business. When he was picking up drops from The Kingdom he seemed to just want to get the job done without any drama or violence. I asked Jayson if Gavin is really all about business.

He replied that Gavin is very much just about the job. He doesn’t like violence and doesn’t want situations to become violent. He wants people to do their jobs and keep their agreements and stick to the rules. That makes his life easier, makes everything run smoothly.

But he has enforcers like Jared to do violence when necessary. He added that he often makes the joke that Jared must be someone’s nephew and that’s how he got a position among The Saviors. But Gavin’s team needs enforcers liked Jared.

Benjamin’s Death

Gavin seemed to be genuinely regretful that Benjamin died. I asked Warner Smith if Gavin was regretful about the incident where Benjamin was shot. He said that Gavin does have regrets that Benjamin was killed.

But, the fault was with the Kingdom for not following the rules and sticking to the agreement. So even though he feels The Saviors were not to blame for that death he felt bad that things went down that way.

Gavin And Negan’s Relationship

When talking about Gavin’s unofficial backstory and how he might have found The Saviors Jayson said that Gavin was probably in another community that was absorbed by the Saviors. He proved to Negan that he’s got skills when it comes to managing people and getting things done, which is how he rose up in the ranks. Negan trusts him to get things done. That’s why Negan gave him an outpost.

Gavin doesn’t necessarily like Negan. He’s not a “True Believer”. He’s a Utilitarian. He does what he has to do to be part of Negan’s community. And the best place for him is far away from Negan, so having the outpost is good for him.

He summed up Gavin’s attitude towards Negan using a quote from the musical “Fiddler On The Roof”: The rabbi is asked if there is a blessing for the tsar and the rabbi answers that there is a blessing for the czar: “May God bless and keep the czar far away from us!” Gavin does what he needs to do but wants nothing to do with Negan or his cultish ideology.

Gavin’s Outpost

When asked about running his own outpost Jayson said that Gavin is very happy running an outpost. He’s a good leader for the people there. He cares a lot about his people at the outpost and he does the best he can for them. He doesn’t know yet that they’re all dead, killed by Rick’s people, but finding that out would definitely push him to be ready for battle.

That crosses a line for Gavin. So even though before the murder of his people he probably wouldn’t have felt that the war was personal it definitely became personal after Rick and the others killed his people at the outpost.

Joining Another Community

If Negan loses the war Gavin would definitely join one of the other communities Jayson said. He knows that people are necessary for survival.  He has a lot of skills and he believes that communities are what keep people safe. He would contribute to another community the way he’s contributed to The Saviors.

He wouldn’t have a problem joining Rick because there’s a very fine line between Rick and Negan, they’re similar in many ways. But Rick is more democratic than Negan. And he thinks Gavin would get along well in that type of community.

More from Undead Walking

Upcoming Projects

One of his latest projects is an indie thriller called Reckoning by Ruckus and Lane Skye. It’s a modern thriller set in a small Appalachian community. The cast also includes Danielle Deadwyler, Brad Carter, and Adam Boyer who Walking Dead fans will remember as the baseball bat wielding Terminus resident. You can follow Jayson Warner Smith on Twitter @jaysonwsmith and on Instagram @jaysonwsmith and you can join his fan page on Facebook.

Huge thanks to Jayson Warner Smith for taking the time to talk with us! We all be anxiously awaiting The Walking Dead’s Mid-Season Premiere in February to see more of Gavin and The Saviors as both Rick’s alliance and Negan and The Saviors take their last stands in All Out War.