The Walking Dead still continues to make headlines despite premiering nearly a decade ago, with its recent midseason premiere prompting questions from critics and fans alike (spoilers ahead). The season ten episode, titled “Squeeze,” sees the characters of Connie (Lauren Ridloff) and Magda (Nadia Hilker) trapped in a cave, before an explosion set off by a faulty dynamite stick leaves their only hole of escape blocked by rubble. Showrunner Angela Kang has confirmed this plot line was to enable the writing out of Ridloff’s charcater, as the actress is set to star in Marvel’s Eternals later this year and required time off from TWD.
When asked by Insider whether Connie’s forced disappearance was a result of Ridloff’s role in Eternals, Kang answered this was an “apt observation,” adding that she “think[s] some aspect of that is true.” The showrunner further elaborated, “I think for the story, it’s actually worked out really beautifully. So I think there’s some really interesting stuff that came out of it… sometimes those things that you have to do to help out a beloved actor also work out in your favor.”
Ridloff joined the cast of TWD in late 2018, portraying deaf and mute character Connie. A first for the series, Ridloff is additionally deaf-mute as well in real life. Originally just a recurring character in season nine, the actress was promoted to a series regular starting in the tenth season. Much praise has been given to both Connie’s character writing and Ridloff’s performance, with critics lauding the unique perspective her deafness allows the series to showcase.
The actress’ next role is likely to top her TWD fame, with Ridloff set to play superhero Makkari in Marvel’s Eternals. Originally portrayed as a white man in the comics, the upcoming film will see Ridloff’s Makkari as a deaf woman of color with super speed abilities. She has been cast alongside additional television actors Richard Madden (Game of Thrones), Gemma Chan (Humans), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), and Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta) to complete the Eternals, an immortal alien superhero race set with the task of protecting humanity from The Deviants, their evil counterpart.
Kang recently discussed Ridloff’s casting on Talking Dead, the show’s accompanying podcast, noting the characters of both Connie and Makkari were “kickass women.”
Ridloff will appear in Marvel’s Eternals, which is set for release Nov. 6, 2020. TWD airs Sundays at 9 PM on AMC.