"I read all the comics, I'm up to date on all the comics. It bums me out as much as it bums out the fans that some of the moments don't play out on the show. It's kind of annoying," he admitted when asked whether that glorious man bun will make the jump to the TV show. "I hope at some point in the future that could arise. It may already have, who knows. I love that look."
The actor added that when he first joined the series, he had to wear a fake beard and extensions to get Jesus' long locks. "That was not a fun part of the show," he said. "Now it's all real. I would not walk around like this all the time if it wasn't real. It's more time in the morning. When you have that fake beard and stuff stuck on your face, you can't move your face. It's just not fun. And the extensions, I had clip on extensions, it was a lot."
During the hour-long interview, Payne spilled some more details about the AMC series, including how he'd like to handle the Jesus/Aaron romance from the comics, why he was AOK with missing out on Carl's last episode and where the show could go if Lauren Cohan does decide to jump ship.
"I've been saying, in this part of the story, in the middle of a big war I don't think there's much time ... unless he spots a Savior across the room and takes a liking, I think right now that's not on many people's minds," Payne said when asked if Jesus will be getting some action anytime soon. [For the record, TooFab totally ships him and that hot Savior.]
"Certainly in the future, I think it'd be really nice to see him happy," he continued. "When I joined the show, Scott Gimple, the showrunner, did tell me he thought he had a boyfriend at the Hilltop. But it hasn't come out."
In the comics, Jesus ends up with Aaron [Ross Marquand] after a time jump, something Payne would love to subvert on the shows.
"I thought it would be a fun thing, Ross and I talk about it ... because it is ridiculous, we get this question all the time, 'What about you and Aaron? because you're the only two gay guys on the show,'" he explained. "I thought it'd be funny if we had that conversation on the show, like yeah, we know everybody thinks we should but we're not ... I'm going to suggest that to the writers."
The actor admitted he's seen some crazy fan art showing his character in all different romantic entanglements. "Shipping is this thing that happens and you have no control over it, I think it's all pretty fun," he added.
While Carl (Chandler Riggs) said goodbye to many of the show's characters before he literally bit the bullet, Jesus wasn't one of them. And Payne is totally fine with that.
"I was not in that episode. I was definitely not bummed. For me, that whole thing was kind of like the whole bat episode with Negan, which just sounded like a miserable time," he explained. "Like everyone's was freezing their asses off, there's lot of crying and snot and everything and the Carl thing's the same. The Carl thing was even worse, it's someone who's been there since the beginning, it's a young person and I was so happy I wasn't involved in that."
Payne said he "really felt" for newcomer Avi Nash, who plays Siddiq on the show. "He just like joined the show ... and then this longstanding person leaves and he has to be amongst all of these actors who are saying goodbye to other actors," said Payne, who went through a similar experience when he first joined.
"When I came in, Alexandra Breckenridge and Tovah Feldshuh had just left and I actually went to their death dinner. They say goodbye to members of the cast, they have a gathering where everyone tells stories about meeting the person and it's really nice," he added. "It's always like that. Someone inevitably has left and there's been a horrible death and everyone's kind of half mourning that still when a new character has arrived. You definitely feel that kind of energy when you arrive and you fight through it."
Payne also said it didn't really make much sense for Jesus to have a sendoff with Carl, since, as he put it, "Jesus doesn't really know the kid."
With her initial contract up after this month, Lauren Cohan's future on the show remains uncertain. Making matters even more confusing: she recently signed on to star in a new pilot for ABC.
"It's possible to shoot two TV shows. It's absolutely possible, it's not something I would choose to do. It does sound completely miserable," Payne said when asked about her predicament. "If you wanna do that, fine. I can't comment on anyone else's deals and what they're doing but Lauren was at the end of her deal and we'll see what happens."
"As far as the character goes, there is an alliance happening [with Jesus] and that's the story we're telling right now. I feel like Jesus is developing a lot this season and could take on more of a leadership role. He could possibly take on more of a leadership [role] if something happened to Maggie," he added. "Someone asked me if he would bring up her child the other day, I was like yeah, I think he'd totally help with that. As far as the show goes, there are some people who have been on the show for a long time and if it was me, I'd want a change of pace. Who knows, everyone has different bills to pay."
"Andrew Lincoln is an amazing number one on the show, but that dude has not seen his kids," Payne added of how the show can take a toll on personal lives. "We work on the show like 8 months of the year, they come like once or twice, but outside of that time, they're in England going to school and his wife is running the show. That's 8 years of his kids growing up."
While we hope Jesus isn't going anywhere anytime soon, Payne hopes his character goes out in a blaze of glory and not by bite.
"Not by walker, because then you have to turn into a walker," he said. "I would want something big like Hershel's death, with the big tank and The Governor and everyone screaming and crying and then he gets his head cut off."
He added he'd like to hold his hypothetical death dinner on the set if possible. "Hilltop or something," he explained, "I could have a big campfire and big picnic table like they did in that flash-forward. I think that would be really fun."