In The Walking Dead comics, the character of Bob Stookey is a white guy in his late 50s or early 60s. But TV is a different medium, and a good actor is a good actor, so when the very good actor Lawrence Gilliard Jr. showed up and auditioned for Bob, he got the part.
As it turns out, Lawrence’s age (41) and race weren't barriers to playing Bob — weirdly enough, his status as a veteran of the highly respected show The Wire almost held him back. TWD already has a Wire alum in Chad Coleman (Tyreese). Comic book writer/executive producer Robert Kirkman told Entertainment Weekly he loves The Wire and would like to cast as many actors from that critically-acclaimed show as possible, but Lawrence told EW the new showrunner, Scott Gimple, does not share that view.
“I’ve got to tell you the story,” Lawrence told EW. “Scott told me. He’s like, ‘You know, we’ve got Chad on the show, so I said, ‘No more Wire people. We’ve got enough of The Wire, because you see too many Wire people on the show and you start thinking of The Wire.’ So he’s like, ‘No more Wire people, and then I saw your tape, and I said, ‘Oh, okay.’”
Lawrence thanked the casting directors, Sharon Bialy and Sherry Thomas, for bringing him in, despite the showrunner’s “No Wire people” mantra. “I remember the audition,” Lawrence continued. “I showed up, and apparently I was the first one to read, and it was three pages of a character they made up because they didn’t want anyone to know it was going to be Bob Stookey. Very hush-hush. It was like three pages of just this guy talking. And I went in and I did it, and they were kind of just quiet when I was done. They were like, ‘You know, that was really good.’ I walked out, and I saw another guy sitting there, a white guy, older guy.”
Never mind that older, white guy — he can take a different part. Lawrence got called back for another audition, then got a speech warning him about all the heat in Atlanta and the physical nature of the role. Lawrence told EW he didn't ask any questions when they prompted him, since he was afraid of saying something to mess up the amazing opportunity. Can’t say we blame him.
Here's more background on Bob and where they may or may not go with him this season. TWD has been pretty lucky with its stellar cast — and if they all end up coming from The Wire, so be it! It's not The Wire's fault for knowing how to cast well too.
Source: Entertainment Weekly