The Walking Dead delivered a powerful, intense episode last night with “The Distance,” putting our survivors on a more hopeful path after many episodes of darkness and misery.
Central to this change is new character Aaron, played by Ross Marquand, and his lover Eric, played by Jordan Woods-Robinson. The show’s first prominent gay male pair, their tender, affectionate reunion had social media tongues wagging. Most of the feedback we’ve seen seems to be positive, although there obviously are a few out there who object to gay males on The Walking Dead.
Marquand talked to Entertainment Weekly about Aaron and Eric’s relationship. He said he and Woods- Robinson decided on their own to play the relationship as if Aaron and Eric had been together for a while.
“In talking to [showrunner] Scott Gimple about the backstory of Aaron and Eric, it was never really fleshed out how long they’ve known each other—at least from the source material we were given. So when I met with Jordan Woods-Robinson, who plays Eric, we sort of created a little backstory of our own. We thought it was a stronger choice that we had known each other prior to the zombie apocalypse. Prior to everything happening, we had known each other beforehand, we had stuck together. We just thought that was a stronger way to go because it must be such a hard thing as a gay man or a lesbian to find someone in that environment where everything is stretched completely. And we thought it was more interesting from an acting perspective that we’ve been together through this entire two-year stretch,” Marquand said.
Speaking to The Daily Beast, Marquand said he considered it a big responsibility to get the intimate scene right not just for The Walking Dead’s gay fan base, but for all viewers. He and Woods-Robinson made a point of hanging out and getting to know each other before shooting the scene so it would feel real.
“It was one of the most beautiful scenes that I’ve had the pleasure of shooting because it dialed into what I think the theme of the show is. This is not a show about zombies; I think it’s a show about relationships and the real human connection that we have to one another. When you lose someone, or you feel that you have lost someone, it doesn’t matter what the situation is, you mourn them and you miss them and you want them back and you will do anything in your power to protect the ones you love. I hope that that’s the focus of our characters, that it’s not hung up so much on our sexual orientation,” Marquand said.