There’s no doubt about it– people are absolutely obsessed with the zombie-filled, drama-packed AMC show The Walking Dead. They tune in week after week to see who has managed to stay alive, who has become a zombie, who is getting together with who, how various relationships are progressing, and much more. And, amidst the sea of talented actors, there’s one that stood out in particular– because he was much, much younger than the rest of the cast. We’re talking about Chandler Riggs.
Riggs plays Carl Grimes, the son of Rick and Lori Grimes, and his character has had a particularly fascinating progression over the course of the show. At first, he was a very young, shy boy who kept to himself and was obviously quite frightened at what was going on around him. Then, he started to get a little more personality, and became a bit bolder. His view on what’s happening around him becomes more complex, and… well, we won’t spoil it all for you, but suffice it to say that an adult actor would have a tough time playing the nuanced role of Carl Grimes, so the fact that Riggs has been able to do it as a mere teenager is impressive.
So, fans of the show probably know everything there is to know about Carl Grimes at this point, but what about the boy behind the character? Who is Chandler Riggs? Where does he come from? What are his interests outside of zombie-fighting and survival? Here are 15 things you may not have known about Chandler Riggs.
15. He Can’t Attend A Death Dinner Because Of His Age
There are plenty of deaths taking place on The Walking Dead, so as many fans know, the cast have created a bit of a tradition to bid farewell to characters that have been killed off– they hold a “death dinner.” It sounds like a sweet idea that would involve the whole cast, but unfortunately, because of his age, Chandler Riggs was often left out of the death dinners because they’re nearly always held at bars. I mean, it makes sense– the cast wants to toast their fellow cast mate who has been killed off, and a few drinks likely makes the farewell a little bit easier. However, we’re betting there are a few great stories shared after those dinners that have Riggs feeling a bit jealous that he’s not able to attend. If his character, Carl, is ever killed off, the cast will have to hold his death dinner at a coffee shop to ensure Riggs can attend!
14. He’s A Huge Video Game Fan
Filming a hit television show definitely fills up your schedule, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have time for hobbies– Chandler Riggs does. Like most teenage boys, he’s a huge fan of video games and tries to squeeze in time to play on a regular basis. He’s so passionate about gaming that when he was younger, he and a few friends actually had a YouTube channel where they would share videos of themselves playing games. In fact, when AMC asked him what he would miss the most if the zombie apocalypse were a real thing and not just the premise for a television show, his answer was “definitely, video games.” Now that he has a few seasons under his belt, hopefully he’s managed to snag a sweet trailer with a full gaming set up to relax between scenes on set– perhaps he can even school his older cast mates at gaming.
13. He Goes To Public School
As most child stars can attest to, it can be tough to balance an acting career with attending school– there are just too many scheduling conflicts. As a result, most young actors find themselves studying and taking classes on set, with the help of a tutor or distance learning courses, once they’ve wrapped their scenes for the day. That’s why, when he first started out in show business, Riggs was actually home schooled so he could fit his learning around his budding acting career. As of February 2013, though, Riggs has actually returned to regular public school, and completed his first year of high school at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Georgia. And if you think that his role on a hit television show means that all the other teens worship the ground he walks on, you’d be wrong– as he told WGN-TV in an interview, “my friends, they’re there to treat me like trash to keep me level-headed.” Sounds like teenagers.
12. The Pudding Scene Ruined Chocolate Pudding For Him
Everyone who knows even a little bit about The Walking Dead knows that Carl Grimes has a huge love for chocolate pudding– on the show, he would gladly eat the sweet treat morning, noon and night. The scene in season four where he’s pictured eating from a huge 112 ounce can of pudding quickly became a meme because of how adorable yet ridiculous it was– but it also had some negative consequences for Riggs. Apparently, he was required to continuously eat from the giant can of pudding as they went through take after take of the scene in question, and because of the sheer amount of pudding he was forced to eat, Riggs can now barely stand to look at the chocolatey concoction. I mean, it only makes sense– many people have one or two foods or beverages that they absolutely can’t stomach after overindulging or having a bad experience at one point in their lives.
11. He’s Played A Zombie Before
The opportunity to play an undead creature on screen likely only comes along once in your acting career, if that, right? Well, for most actors, yes– but not in Chandler Riggs’ case. While Riggs’ youth and limited acting experience might make you think that The Walking Dead is the first time he’s played a zombie on screen, his first ever film credit was actually in another zombie flick. What are the chances? Way back in 2006, when he was just a child, Riggs played a zombie in the comedic horror film Jesus H. Zombie. You know, if Riggs ever gets tired of acting, he could very easily just set up shop teaching an acting class aimed at showing aspiring starlets how to behave like various creatures on screen– we bet there’d be a demand for it, considering how people just can’t seem to get enough of zombies lately, both on television shows and in movies.
10. His Middle Name Is Carlton
Many actors or actresses have a bit of an unusual middle name, and end up using that name as either their first or last name on stage to create a more memorable moniker. Chandler Riggs’ actual name is, well, Chandler Riggs– but we bet you didn’t know that his middle name was Carlton. Honestly, with a first name as unique as Chandler, it’s not surprising that his middle name would be a little bit of a unique name as well, and we kind of dig the alliteration. Perhaps one day he’ll opt to switch up his name for other projects and go by Carlton Riggs or Chandler Carlton. Who knows? Although at this point, he’s likely gotten quite accustomed to signing autograph after autograph using his regular name, so perhaps sticking to that would be easier. Either way, we dig it– and we’re kind of curious as to whether he’s ever learnt the infamous Carlton dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in honour of his middle name.
9. He’s Pretty Handy
Carl Grimes can handle himself pretty well out in the real world and knows quite a few survival skills thanks to his dramatic life thus far. However, it turns out that Chandler Riggs is quite handy as well! Apparently, in addition to snagging a leading role on one of the hottest shows on television right now and becoming a hugely successful actor, Chandler Riggs also has a heart of gold and has done mission trips with his church group where he helps build shelters, including replacing roofs. So, if you ever wondered if Riggs could actually build you a house to keep you safe from zombies in the case of a zombie apocalypse, well, he could build a solid structure pretty easily. Whether it was zombie-proof or not is a different question (and a whole different skill set). Regardless, many adults out there can’t even fix things around the house, so the fact that Riggs has been involved in actually building houses is pretty cool.
8. He’s Closest With TV Dad Andrew Lincoln
Many people wonder about the actors’ real life relationships on shows with larger casts. When shows have a cast of four or five or six (like Friends, for example), the group likely all hangs out together because there just isn’t as many of them, and they’re likely always filming scenes together. For larger ensemble shows with a big cast, though, it becomes a little bit tougher to predict– we know who’s tight with who in the fictional world of The Walking Dead, but who is close to who in real life? That’s a good question, and one many fans are curious about. It turns out that Riggs is closest on set to his television dad Andrew Lincoln– and given how many scenes the duo shoot together, it only makes sense that they would have grown close over the years. Plus, from what fans have seen of him, Andrew Lincoln seems like a fun guy who would know how to keep a teenager entertained.
7. He Got His Start At 4 Years Old
Chandler Riggs managed to snag the leading role of Carl Grimes in The Walking Dead when he was just ten years old– pretty impressive, and definitely towards the younger side of the spectrum to start in Hollywood. However, it definitely wasn’t his first time on stage– he’s been in the spotlight for far longer than that! Riggs actually got his first taste of the limelight when he was just four years old, acting in a community theatre production. It’s quite a common tale– many, many actors and actresses who make it big share stories about performing for friends and family, or at school, when they were younger– it seems that desire to be in the spotlight comes at a young age! Still, it’s hilarious to think that, at ten years old, Riggs was already a veteran performer who probably knew exactly how to hit his mark and to enunciate clearly for his eager audience.
6. His Favourite Character Is Michonne
There’s no question that Carl Grimes is the character Chandler Riggs knows the best– after all, he plays him! He knows exactly what makes Carl tick, what his passions are, what motivates him, what he’s feeling in any given scene, etc. However, when it comes to selecting a favourite character, Riggs isn’t going for the one he knows the best, he’s going for the one that he finds most exciting, and that happens to be Michonne. I mean, we can’t blame him; this is a character who carries around a wicked katana and first showed up under a hood with two zombie corpses in tow. She becomes kind of a big deal throughout the series and fans absolutely love her character, so we can see why Riggs would pick her as his favourite (although the fact that Danai Gurira, who plays Michonne, is probably the cast member he’s closest with apart from Andrew Lincoln doesn’t hurt either).
5. He And His Father Didn’t Think The Show Would Succeed
It’s basically a rule that parents are supposed to support their children. Sure, they should help them manage their expectations, and should steer them away from any harmful choices, but in general, they’re their kids’ biggest cheerleaders. However, Mr. Riggs certainly wasn’t a stage dad, and according to Chandler Riggs, both he and his father first thought that a show based on the zombie apocalypse was a kind of terrible idea. Sure, Riggs auditioned and was happy to be cast in the series, but they sort of figured it would be like one of those shows that gets a pilot and a couple of episodes before getting dropped. Little did they know that it would turn out to be an absolutely massive success– people love zombies! We’re betting Papa Riggs is pretty happy he decided not to talk his son out of taking a role on the show! That would certainly have been disastrous.
4. Riggs Couldn’t Have A Gun For The First Four Years Of Filming
In more recent seasons, Riggs has been shown with a gun in his hand, doing what he needs to do in order to survive the crazy, zombie-filled world. However, you might notice that you never see him holding any type of firearm in the first few seasons– and there’s a very specific reason for that. It turns out that, legally, you’re not allowed to have firearms on the set in Atlanta, Georgia if you’re under fourteen years of age– and since Riggs started when he was just ten years old, he was under that age limit for the first four years he was on the show. Who would have guessed? Luckily, he finally passed the threshold and was able to have a firearm on set, thus making him easily set up for any crazy plot lines that might require Carl to shoot some bad guys when the going gets tough.
3. He Loves Young Adult Books
We imagine there’s a fair bit of down time on set while other cast members are filming their own scenes, and while Riggs has stated that he loves video games and finds them a fun way to occupy his time, he also likes reading– and he’s not exactly digging into the archives for classic texts. Instead, his favourites are newer young adult books that many in the world are buzzing about, including John Green’s Looking for Alaska and Stephen Chbosky’s Perks of Being A Wallflower. It just goes to prove that, while Riggs is a big movie star, he’s still kind of the typical teenager who likes the same young adult books as countless other teenagers across the world. We have a feeling that, if more of John Green’s books were to be turned into films, Riggs might eventually get a starring role; after all, he’s talented, and he’s obviously a fan of Green’s work.
2. His Favourite Film Is The Mist
Given that Chandler Riggs works day after day on a horror-filled show bursting at the seams with zombies, it only makes sense that he would at least like horror flicks– and it turns out that his favourite ever film is The Mist, a 2007 film based on a novella by Stephen King. In case you’re not familiar with it, here’s a little bit of context: the film follows members of a small town who are trying to stock up on supplies after a thunderstorm and find themselves battling against a strange mist that is hiding vicious monsters. While the film doesn’t contain actual zombies, it’s no wonder that Riggs enjoys working on the AMC hit show– it’s somewhat similar to his favourite film! Who knows, with so much experience in the horror/drama genre on The Walking Dead, perhaps he’ll be tapped to star in the next adaptation of one of King’s texts– there are certainly a ton of them!
1. He’s A Fan Of Phineas And Ferb
Given that he shows up to a set filled with the undead and scary props every day, you might think that Chandler Riggs’ taste in television shows has far surpassed the average teenager’s, but you’d be wrong. While Riggs obviously likes shows that lean towards the spooky, he also has a few lighter favourites, including Phineas and Ferb. Riggs actually confessed to AMC that it’s one of his favourite shows “although I know that’s kind of childish.” Hey, who doesn’t have a few guilty pleasures? He also spilled that shooting scenes with Vincent Martella in season four of the show (he plays Patrick, for those who aren’t as familiar) was particularly thrilling, as Martella is actually the actor who voices Phineas for the show. Honestly, given how grown up Riggs has to be on camera all the time, acting in scenes that many adults would struggle with, it’s sort of endearing to hear that he has a soft spot for a children’s show.