CW pulled off a spectacular surprise this week with an epic surprise guest star in Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Arrowverse producers succeeded in keeping a cameo appearance by Ezra Miller a secret from both the fans and press – how did they do it, and could The Walking Dead pull off a similar coup?
In the huge two-hour culmination of years of storytelling in the Arrowverse, CW rounded up the story of 5 different universes, wrapping them into one “Prime Earth”, and in the midst of it all produced one of the biggest surprises of the TV year (and it’s only January!). Fans were stunned to see Ezra Miller – who portrays the movie DC universe version of The Flash – appear alongside his TV counterpart Grant Gustin. Could AMC pull off this kind of surprise on The Walking Dead?
In an interview with Variety, executive producer Marc Guggenheim, revealed that he was approached by Warner Bros’ Peter Roth to make the appearance happen. He of course jumped at the chance to merge the TV and movie worlds, despite the fact filming had already wrapped. He also revealed how relieved and grateful he was that Miller’s trip to Vancouver to film the cameo wasn’t leaked by crew or members of the public, allowing movie Flash’s appearance to remain unspoiled.
Miller isn’t the first movie star to pull off a surprise appearance on the small screen. In 1997 The X-Files managed to wrong-foot fans in an episode that saw FBI good-girl Agent Scully walk on the wild side, and also stunned with Jodie Foster as the voice of bad guy Ed Jerse’s tattoo. At the height of his movie fame, Bruce Willis surprised both the studio audience and star Roseanne Barr by replacing John Goodman and getting into bed with Roseanne in one memorable scene – long before his turn as Rachel’s boyfriend on Friends.
Of course, these big name surprises are much harder to pull off these days, but CW has proven it can be done. With The Walking Dead making a move into the big screen world, could they start the process by having a big screen star make a surprise appearance on the TV show?
The nature of the show, with our favorites coming into contact with people on their travels, would easily allow for a one or two episode arc appearance for a big star.
Could we see Mark Hamill appear as a wise carpenter who teaches Aaron how best to work with one hand? Or Vin Deisel show Daryl how to be fast and furious on a cooking-oil-powered motorbike? Or Cameron Diaz spend some time with the Whisperers, talking to Alpha about loving a man in a mask?
With Georgia fast becoming the movie filming capital of the world, it may actually be easier for AMC to keep cameos by movie actors a surprise than its own actors returning to the show.
During the filming of season 4, Michael Rooker visited the set of the Walking Dead and it was quickly all over social media and the press, with speculation that Merle would make a return as a hallucination in the new season. As it turns out, he was only visiting his old friends, but it shows how hard it is for production to hide such visits.
For Rick Grimes’ final episode Jon Bernthal, Sonequa Martin-Green and the wonderful, and much-missed Scott Wilson all filmed cameos as figments of Rick’s fevered imagination. Although the actors were spotted locally, it could easily be dismissed as cast returning for a farewell dinner for Andrew Lincoln.
Could AMC have managed to repeat the trick and sneak some surprise cameos into Michonne’s final episodes? Could Andrew Lincoln make an appearance, allowing Rick to give Michonne a message of hope and love, if only in her mind?
With much of Michonne’s last episodes still completely under wrap, and fans clamouring to know how she leaves, it would be incredible if AMC managed to bypass the spoiler hunters and surprise us all with a cameo no-one saw coming.