Scott Wilson, who played Hershel Greene on three seasons of AMC’s The Walking Dead, has died at age 76, the show tweeted Saturday.
“Our thoughts are with his family and friends. Rest in paradise, Scott,” the tweet read. “We love you!”
Neither Wilson’s representatives nor AMC immediately responded to a request for comment.
Just hours before the news broke, the show’s leadership announced at New York Comic Con 2018 that Wilson’s character would be back for season 9, which premieres Sunday night, along with characters Shane Walsh and Sasha Williams, played by Jon Bernthal and Sonequa Martin-Green, respectively.
Wilson won hearts for playing Hershel, a veterinarian, farmer and father who survives the zombie outbreak and becomes a leader and symbol of hope before being murdered. It was unclear how his character will reappear, although many were assuming it would’ve been a flashback or dream sequence. Episodes featuring him may also have been filmed already.
“Like Scott in our lives, Hershel was a character whose actions continue to inform our characters’ choices to this day,” AMC said in a statement quoted by CNN. “Our hearts go out to his wife, family, friends and to the millions of fans who loved him. Scott will be missed.”
Actor Khary Payton, who plays King Ezekiel on The Walking Dead, was one of the first cast members to remember Wilson on Twitter.
“The first time I met Scott Wilson, he gave me a big hug and said that this thing I had become a part of … was a family,” Payton wrote. “He said I had a responsibility to take care of it. I have tried very hard to do that, sir, and I will continue. I promise. See you on the other side, my friend.”
Born in Thomasville, Georgia in 1942, Wilson’s first film role was in 1967’s In the Heat of The Night, and he next starred in In Cold Blood. He also acted in Pearl Harbor, The Great Gatsby, Judge Dredd, Monster and dozens of other films. Besides The Walking Dead, his TV credits include a recurring role on CSI, and appearances on everything from The X-Files to Robot Chicken, where he voiced his Walking Dead character.
“I’ve accomplished more than I would have hoped to have accomplished,” Wilson told Access Atlanta in 2011. “I don’t want to be a big movie star. I can be someone who walks the streets and not get mobbed. Yet I want to be as fine an actor as I can be. I am still striving for that — to be as good as I can be.”
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