Fans of The Walking Dead are bracing themselves for all the excitement Season 9 is bringing their way. Andrew Lincoln left his iconic role as Rick Grimes, but viewers have been introduced to a number of new faces this season.TWD comic book fans are already acquainted with the show's new character Beta, but the actor cast in his role looks pretty familiar too. So who plays Beta on The Walking Dead? Ryan Hurst joins the cast as a villainous Whisperer.
You may recognize Hurst from his most notable role as Opie on Sons of Anarchy, but the actor has been on TV for years. Believe it or not, early in his career he starred in films like The Postman and Patch Adams, and one of his first TV roles was as Crunch Grabowski on Saved by the Bell. Since then, Hurst has appeared in a number of films and shows, with his most recent recurring roles as Chick Hogan on Bates Motel and Lil Foster Farrell on Outsiders.
On the new season of The Walking Dead, Hurst will play Beta, a character that first appeared in Issue 154 of the comic books. According to SkyBound, in the comics, Beta is a tall, knife-wielding brute, who wears a Roamer skin mask, and was a pro-basketball player before the outbreak. He is a member of the Whisperers, a group of survivors who disguise themselves in zombie skin and shun both civility and humanity. Season 9 also introduced fans to the leader of the Whisperers — a woman named Alpha — played by Fantastic Beasts actress Samantha Morton. In the comics, Beta is her loyal second in command, and may even harbor romantic feelings for her.
But Alpha and Beta aren’t the only new characters fans met this season. Cassady McClincy plays Alpha’s daughter, Lydia and Brett Butler and John Finn join the cast as Tammy Rose and her husband Earl — both Hilltop Colony residents who clash with Maggie and Carl. Rhys Coiro and Zach McGowen will play Jed and Justin, two rebellious Saviors who are not interested in working with the others or playing nice.
In an interview with TV Insider, TWD showrunner Angela Kang talked about a few of the new faces this season. “We’re meeting Magna (Nadia Hilker) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), these really great women who in our world have a bit of international flavor,” said Kang. “We have the wonderful, wonderful Dan Fogler playing Luke — and we have Lauren Ridloff and Angel Theory playing Connie and Kelly.”
Kang also revealed how the new characters would be introduced, and how the forward shift in timeline would facilitate the various transitions on the show. She noted that the new season would start about a year-and-a-half after the war, where the world is changed and resources are diminishing. “We’re exploring what happens when man-made structures start to crumble when nature starts to become a bit of an obstacle in ways that it wasn’t before.”
Kang also mentioned that the new characters would be incorporated into this new world, and their stories would interlock with the characters you already know. “We really wanted this group to come in and have a specific sort of vibe and interactions with each other,” she said. “If you imagine, they had their own story running parallel to our people’s story, and they have survived just as much and have been through just as much stuff and have come out as a cohesive group that cares for each other and fights for each other.”
The Walking Dead airs Sunday nights at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.