Lew Temple Talks about ‘The Walking Dead,’ Rob Zombie, and Baseball

By Jason Harris

Lew Temple. photo by Jason Harris

Lew Temple. photo by Jason Harris

Lew Temple’s time on The Walking Dead has ended, but he’s still proud of the work he did on the series, even though he thinks his character Axel had more to do in the show.

“I was obviously disappointed,” Lew Temple said. “I thought he was going to be serviceable to the group.”

Temple was given the news three weeks in advance that his character was going to die. He was in denial at first, but after some time he had to commit to it, he said.

“My intent is to always serve the story and that was my job. I wanted to do the best job possible.”

Temple did feel “disappointed for Axel,” though. As an actor, he will go on and work, but Axel is gone forever, he said.

The character of Axel will live on in The Walking Dead comic books and in reruns.

Temple did use the comic book character of Axel as a blueprint. Since comic books are one-dimensional, he had to make the character three-dimensional.

“I’m certain that we were able to use some of Robert [Kirkman’s] characteristics of Axel, but also brought some of my own to it as well.”

The producers on the zombie series knew of Temple before he came on in season three since he had been in to see them for the pilot.

“They looked at me for the role of Merle, originally, and then after that they hired Michael Rooker. Then they needed Merle’s brother, Daryl, who at that time was not even named.”

Temple auditioned for Daryl by reading Merle’s lines differently, which he was asked to do by the producers.

“Thankfully, they hired Norman Reedus. So when Axel came around they came to me and we were able to make that work.”

Temple was aware of the popularity of The Walking Dead, but not of the cross-cultural phenomenon it has become.

“I would say it hasn’t hurt me,” Temple said about Hollywood recognizing him from the popular series. “I would say prior to The Walking Dead I had a certain body of work Hollywood was aware of, and I was working prior to The Walking Dead …”

He admits that the series has elevated his visibility, which has helped him. He doesn’t know if his time on the series has defined him, which only “time will tell.”

“I like to do diverse stuff. I’m certainly proud of the work I did on The Walking Dead and to be part of that show. It’s been such an incredible hit.”

Temple has worked with writer and director Rob Zombie on Halloween and The Devil’s Rejects. He has “a really great relationship beyond a working relationship” with Zombie.

“I adore working with him because he knows what he wants and wants what he knows so there’s not a lot of grey area in-between. He is an absolute perfectionist and he does whatever it takes to make the day work, and if that means he needs to provide something on set, he does so.”

He does expect to work with Zombie again because he thinks they work well together. He just doesn’t know when that will happen.

“I think that I bring something to his story that he appreciates. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Lew Temple in a Rob Zombie production yet again.”

Along with acting, Temple is “an incredible baseball fan.” He adores the game and it has been his first passion since he was a little boy. He’s even played it all the way up until the minor leagues with the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros. When he couldn’t play the game, he worked as a baseball scout for the New York Mets. Now he roots for the Atlanta Braves.

“I would say I’m excited for the Red Sox, but rooting for the [Detroit] Tigers.”

Temple also writes music.

“I think that I am a pretty interesting songwriter. I think that I am able to spin a tune, at least in my head.”

He has a record deal with Universal through the Rob Zombie production, Banjo and Sullivan.

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