Joshua Mikel talks about playing Savior Jared on The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead; AMC; Josh Mikel as Jared
The Walking Dead; AMC; Josh Mikel as Jared /

The Walking Dead has many self-sacrificing characters but Jared isn’t one of them. Josh Mikel talks about what it’s like to play a self-centered character.

On The Walking Dead things can get a little serious with so many characters that are motivated by the desire to help and protect the ones that they love. Thankfully, Savior Jared is there to break up all that seriousness with his complete lack of regard for anyone but himself.

Savior Jared was a part of Gavin’s crew that collected tribute from The Kingdom. But his interactions with The Kingdom drop squad were not very friendly and even turned deadly after he threatened Richard but shot Benjamin in the leg instead.

Benjamin ended up dying from his bullet wound. Jared is a jerk and kind of a bully. He’s started fights. And he mouthed off to Maggie at The Hilltop where he’s currently being held as a prisoner. The actor who plays Jared, Josh Mikel, talked with me recently about Jared and the comedic lightness that his douchery brings to the show.

Josh has a long history in film, theater, and other creative pursuits and currently can be seen in several big films like Game Night. But he has a special place in his heart for The Walking Dead and for the terrible human being that is Jared.

Early Career

Josh got his start in high school theater. He was in student productions including Grease and The Hobbit, where he played Gollum. He loved theater and went on to study it at Florida State University after high school.

While at university he starred in several student films with friends and from those appearances he started working steadily in student films. After school, he moved back to Atlanta and continued working in film.

Even though he’s been working consistently in film, he still loves the theater and writes for the theater. He said that he loves the intensity of live performances in the theater and the chance to connect with a character. But, he said, having a recurring role on a TV show like The Walking Dead gives him the same chance to commit to one character and he really enjoys that.

Fan Of The Show?

When I asked if he was a fan of The Walking Dead before being cast on the show he said that he was. He was first introduced to the world of The Walking Dead through the comic. When he was on tour with his band he started reading the comic and loved the world that Robert Kirkman created.

So when the show debuted he watched to see how they brought the comic to life and immediately was a fan of the show too. He said that he had auditioned for the show many times before he was cast as Jared.

The Walking Dead’s Impact In Georgia

We talked about the impact of the show on fans and also about the impact of the show on the filming industry in Atlanta and throughout Georgia. He said that the show has had an amazing impact on the filming industry in Georgia and showed other studios and networks that Georgia is a great place to film.

And we talked about the massive economic windfall that the show brought to Senoia, where it films. A recent article in the UGA news estimated that the filming industry brings in over 9 billion dollars each year for Georgia and has had a dramatic impact on tourism and other related industries.

Jared The Jerk

When we talked about Jared one of the first things I asked was if it’s fun to play such an over the top jerk. Josh said that absolutely it is and that at first, he had to fight the impulse to be very precious and serious in the role.

The Walking Dead; AMC; Josh Mikel as Jared
The Walking Dead; AMC; Josh Mikel as Jared /

He added that on the first day of filming he was just kind of cutting up and screwing around before director Greg Nicotero started the scene and that Greg “egged him on” and to really play up that attitude and that’s really how Jared came to be such a jerk.

But even though Jared’s behavior seems inappropriately comedic in the serious circumstances the characters are in, like the tense standoff between Gavin and King Ezekiel, it comes from a place of trauma as well as just being Jared’s personality.

Josh said that Jared has been through a lot and seen a lot and managed to survive, so his attitude is really rooted in the old adage “if you can’t laugh about it you’d be crying about it”. Jared laughs.

Jared And Negan

I asked him if he thinks that Jared is a “True Believer” in Negan’s rhetoric about The Saviors role in the world to be to save people and Josh said probably not. Jared “bends like the reed” and he will go along with the moral dictates of anyone that is going to accept him into their group. He’s not a character that acts due to some well-constructed morality or sense of principle.

Since Jared is being held in Maggie’s prisoner pen at The Hilltop, I asked if Jared’s fluid morality meant that he would be happy to join The Hilltop or another community if The Saviors lose the war. Josh told me that Jared will definitely try to ingratiate himself to Maggie or another leader if that happens.

Or he would leave and go it alone. Jared may be a comedic character, but he does have survival skills and he would be capable of making it on his own if The Hilltop or another community doesn’t want to take advantage of those skills that he does have.

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Before The Apocalypse

Josh also talked about what he imagines Jared was like before the apocalypse. He said that Jared was probably a trust fund kid and a “MAGA bro” who sailed through life pretty easily without any real struggles or concerns. But he did learn how to survive and has managed to survive well since then so he’s adapted to the apocalypse world without changing his personality too much. He’s not really concerned about anyone except himself.

Other Projects

Besides played Jared on The Walking Dead Josh has a slew of film projects that are currently out or coming out soon. He has a role in the Oscar-nominated film I, Tonya. And he’s in Game Night, which is out now and according to Josh is “fun as hell”. He’s also in a film coming out in a couple of weeks called Love, Simon. And on the TV landscape, he’s appearing in the new CW hit Black Lightning.

To keep up with all his projects you can follow him on Twitter @Joshual_Mikel and on Instagram @joshuamikel or follow his Facebook page.

Huge thanks to Josh for taking the time to talk with Undead Walking!