SPOILER ALERT: This article contains spoilers for the series finale of The Walking Dead.
Perhaps no show has had as prodigious a body count as The Walking Dead over its 11-season run. So the question when it came to the AMC drama’s series finale was not so much a matter of if someone big would die, but rather who. While Luke (Dan Fogler) and Jules (Alex Sgambati) bit the dust at the start of the episode while trying to escape a zombie herd, there was one much bigger domino yet to fall.
In a fierce race over the past few episodes to find and save her baby Coco, Rosita did, in fact, rescue her daughter. But while attempting to escape a group of walkers with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Rosita fell off of a pipe she was climbing into a mass of the undead. She dramatically and heroically emerged from the pile, fighting off attackers, but the damage was done.
Jace Downs/AMC Christian Serratos in ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale
Rosita revealed a bite on her back to Eugene in a brutally emotional scene, and later at a group dinner celebrating the group’s success in saving the Commonwealth told Gabriel, “Everything’s perfect. I just want to remember this moment,” before also informing him of her fate. Her final moment was spent with Eugene at her bedside. “I’m glad it was you in the end” she muttered before then drifting off.
Why did producers decide to kill off Rosita? Well, it turns out, Rosita’s finale death was not actually the producers’ idea. Rather, it was pitched by the woman who played her, Christian Serratos. So why then did Serratos want to see Rosita die? When did she hatch her nefarious plot? And what was it like filming those final scenes?
EW spoke to the actress about all of that and her amazing, understated performance showcasing the character’s mix of sadness and relief upon delivering the news. “I was so proud,” says Serratos of watching the scene play back. “It was so good. I was so proud of me. I don’t often watch me and go, ‘God, that woman is great.’ And I watched me and was like, ‘God, I f—ing nailed it.'” Indeed, she did.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I hear from showrunner Angela Kang and director Greg Nicotero that Rosita dying was basically your idea. What’s that all about, Christian?
CHRISTIAN SERRATOS: Yeah, it was. I didn’t know that they were going to be so forthcoming about that. I’m so happy I get to talk about it. I’ve been on the show for so long, and in watching the show, one of the things that I really loved about it was that it made me emotional. It tugged at your heartstrings.
People constantly say, “Oh gosh, I don’t know. It’s a show about walkers, or it’s a little sci-fi.” And people and fans argue that’s not the first premise of the show. It really is about family and heart and survival and what you’ll do for your loved ones.
It tugging at your heartstrings was something that I really fell in love with about the show. And I just really wanted people to have that emotional experience in our finale, especially. I think a show that was about possibly losing your loved ones, you want to lose somebody at the end. I know it sounds so dark, but I feel like the show, we owed it to the fans to break their hearts one last time, if that makes sense.
Jace Downs/AMC Christian Serratos on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale
So when did this start percolating in your brain? When did you start thinking about this, and then when did you bring it up to the producers, and how’d you bring it up?
I started thinking about it probably when we wrapped our last season. And I think all of us collectively were going, “I wonder who’s going to go? Who’s it going to be?” And slowly, I think we started to realize that it might not be anybody. And I just really thought that we owed it to the show and to the audience to, like I said, break their hearts one last time. And also, for me, it just made so much sense for my character.
I was so lucky to outlive my character in the comic book and get to stay on the show for so long. I love these people. And honestly, I wasn’t ready to go. It’s so sad to think that she died, but it gave me kind of a sense of closure in a way because being an actor can be really psychological. You spend so much time pretending to be this person, and you grow very close to them. It’s like bonding between you and the character.
And then, all of a sudden, you just never see them again. There’s so much talk about spin-offs and stuff, and I couldn’t live in limbo. I couldn’t not know if she was going to ever come back or not. It was going to drive me insane. So it really helped me, Christian, have closure. And I really think it made sense for Rosita. I mean, she was so willing to die for her loved ones and die for her child, and I just thought it really made sense for her.
So how in-depth was the pitch in terms of the circumstances? What were your thoughts and what did you convey to them?
By the time I had the conversation with Angela, and we talked about it, I didn’t really have a concept. I knew that she would have to go saving her family. And whether that was her blood daughter or the family that she had acquired throughout all the years, she had to go protecting them.
And then, there were a couple different versions of what was going to happen. This industry, everything changes a thousand times. And I mean, even while we were filming it, I think it was changing. Not necessarily the way she goes out, but details, and those things matter. We care so much about the details. I think that’s why our show is so good, because everyone is so willing to stay up nights considering, “How can we make every single thing better? How can we make it more realistic?”
And so, I think it became that she died saving her daughter kind of midway through the season. It started to really make sense that that was the only way that she could go was dying saving Coco.
Jace Downs/AMC Christian Serratos in ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale
Obviously, I’ve been covering this show for a long time, and I’ve talked to a lot of people whose characters have died along the way. And I was wondering if it’s different at all in the finale because other people that were killed off, they leave, yet the show keeps going. At this point, everyone’s leaving anyway, so you’re all leaving, just under different circumstances. Do you think that made it feel different at all?
If you mean in terms of on set, then yeah, I didn’t necessarily get the experience or the attention that the people who left before me did. [Laughs] I wanted everyone to be crying over losing me, but we were all crying over losing each other and losing the show, so I was robbed of that a bit. But I got a bit of that in my death scene. And it’s nice.
But its complex because it didn’t feel like the show was quite ending, with all of the other opportunities that we have for spin-offs and stuff, so it was a very strange feeling. And actually, I haven’t really talked to anybody else who had gone before me. Me and Alanna [Masterson] chatted about it a bit, but again, the circumstances were different. I remember talking to Steve [Yeun] when his character was going, and I would argue that it was definitely more intense for them because they weren’t getting to hang out with their friends every day. And me, I got to stay to the end, which I was really grateful for. I think if I had gone in the second-to-last episode, I would’ve been pretty pissed. [Laughs]
How would you describe Rosita’s reaction to the bite? To me, there seemed to sadness, of course, but also acceptance and relief, in a way, that she at least got to save her daughter.
Yeah, it made so much sense for her. I think Rosita, in a way, this is so dark, but these dark things are so beautiful to me. I think, in a lot of ways, she considered herself dead already. This was such a terrible thing that had happened to the planet. And seeing where it brought people, and the terrible choices that made people make, she was kind of a pessimist about this whole thing anyway and was just riding along.
And it took her a while to feel like the people we see her with on the show were family. She’s kind of a tough egg to crack. So it wasn’t an uber-emotional thing for her. It was kind of something that she always expected would happen, right? And as long as she knows her daughter is safe and the rest of her family was safe too, that’s all she could ask for. I think if she hadn’t found Coco, the performance would’ve been much different.
Jace Downs/AMC Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, and Seth Gilliam in ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale
Tell me about filming that scene where you tell Eugene about the bite, and just working with Josh McDermitt on that scene. You guys came in the show together back in season 4, and I’m sure it was a lot.
He’s such a great actor, and everyone on that show, we talk about it constantly. We can’t say it enough. Everyone’s just so generous, and we’ve created such a family there. And every actor gives a million percent. And coming in with him, I had to do my final scenes with him. It just made so much sense. And I know the audience is surely going to love that. And yeah, it was sad because we were saying goodbye to all the years and all the good times that we had on the show. And so, yeah, there was a lot to unpack there. And those were all real tears for us, 100 percent.
That last line to Eugene, of, “I’m glad it was you in the end” — what does that mean to you?
That was so brutal. Even talking about it makes me want to cry. These characters have just been through so much, and that was like her brother. So knowing that he was going to be the one to put her down and to be with her at the end is just kind of beautiful. And of everybody that she’s met along the way, I think he was the one that felt safest to her. That was kind of her safe space. So it was a beautiful moment.
Jace Downs/AMC Christian Serratos and Seth Gilliam on ‘The Walking Dead’ series finale
Was the death scene the last thing you shot?
Yeah, they series wrapped us right after that, and it was horrible. Horrible! F—, it was so horrible. We were crying so hard. We were shaking. I’ve had some people joke like, “Oh my God, you have these death dinners, and you sob, and it’s not an actual death.” And no, of course not. But when you experience the dark things that we experience on that show together, and you do it right, it doesn’t feel fake. It feels real.
So we had gone through kind of trauma bonding with each other. And then, again, you’re just robbed of these people. You’re never going to see the people again. Not just your friends on set and your crew and everyone that you’ve worked with, but the characters. They’re gone, and it’s hard to put aside.
I remember walking onto the set just for a rehearsal or blocking or something, so not even kind of important. And we just all started sobbing, and we couldn’t even look at each other, and it was really quiet. And then, at the end, I was shaking and crying so hard that we couldn’t even walk outside because we knew what was waiting for us.
We knew every crew member was waiting for us. We knew the cast was waiting for us, and there was going to be a big circle of people outside at probably, whatever, 3 a.m. And me and Josh couldn’t go outside. None of us. I think Lauren was still in there. We couldn’t walk outside. And then, I walked outside, and it should be a celebratory moment like, “You did such a great job, and what a great show we created,” and high fives all around, but no, we it was horrible. I can’t even think about it.
Have you watched it yet?
I watched it this morning right before a very important table read for my new show [More on HBO Max] that is very upbeat, and that was a poor choice, let me tell you, because I was in the middle of my makeup and I had to fix tears and makeup and this and that, and was like, “Well, that was a f—ing terrible choice.”
But I was so proud. It was so good. I was so proud of me. I don’t often watch me and go, “God, that woman is great.” And I watched me and was like, “God, I f—ing nailed it.” And I was just so proud of all of our work, and I was so happy that what I wanted to portray came off. I did it. And I just am so excited to see the audience’s reaction. I know they’re going to be so stoked, especially with what we did at the end with Andy and Danai and with the kind of memorial to everybody. I’m just so proud of us.
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