The Walking Dead star Michael Cudlitz has said there is “no God-given right to censorship” after his long-standing character was gorily killed off in the show’s latest series.
Fans of the US post-apocalyptic drama were left horrified when the seventh series opened with the brutal murder of his character, Abraham.
But he said the shocking scenes were a reminder to viewers that “the world is not safe” and that, in both film and politics, things should not be covered up.
The American actor, 51, said: “We wanted to remind everyone that the world is not safe, and now this has elevated the stakes and makes you question whether we follow our leaders because we respect them or because we fear them.”
Cudlitz said that freedom to explore graphic themes in film echoed the importance of democracy in politics.
While he held back on commenting specifically on the candidates, he said of next week’s US presidential elections: “It’s a democratic process for better or for worse.
“This is our process and people have got to say what they want to say without fear of retribution, I stand by that.
“The minute you try to censor anyone, then you become the problem.
“Apart from the rules that we have all agreed on together, it’s the same with censoring anything, including films.
“I believe that everything will work out the way it is supposed to and we have to have more trust in people.
“There is no God-given right to have censorship.”
Responding to criticism from fans of the show – based on the horror comic book series by Robert Kirkman and artist Tony Moore – over Abraham’s death, he said: “We’ve lost two very loved characters (Abraham and Glenn, played by Steven Yeun).
“Because we loved them, the graphic nature of their death is amplified in people’s minds. It hits you harder when people you love are in peril.
“But there will be other characters who come in, that is the ebb and flow of the show.
“We try to recreate the human condition and tell stories that are honest and true. As viewers when we watch something, we take something from it and we move forward.”
He added: “People watch it with their families and get sucked into it and forget that it’s a horror genre.”
But he added that, while he empathised with the emotions of viewers, it was hard to feel the impact of the show’s violence after being involved in its making.
He said: “It’s a different experience for me because I know where we trick you and, watching it back, I know the parts where we laughed hysterically when making them because we looked ridiculous.”
Season 7 of The Walking Dead airs at 9pm on Mondays on Fox.