On The Walking Dead, Tom Payne is known for the long hair and beard he sports as the character Paul “Jesus” Rovia. He’s actually pretty tired of talking about it; yes, it’s his real hair and beard, you can stop asking. But the familiarity of that beard may work for him should he ever get the opportunity to pursue his dream of playing Wolverine, the iconically hirsute Marvel character for whom there’s currently a job opening.
“Wolverine is actually like 5’1″, or 5’2″ or something,” says Payne [ed. note: according to Marvel, he’s 5’3″]. “And Hugh, he was brilliant, but he was much, much, much bigger.” [6’1 1/2″, according to celebheights.com‘s very precise estimate.]
Tom Payne is 5’7″ of compact muscle, and as we’ve seen on The Walking Dead, more than capable of doing the stunts and fight scenes required of superhero movie stars. He has an approachable charisma and would look great on a magazine cover — have you seen him in a tux? And The Walking Dead has proven itself to be a great launchpad for high-profile franchise roles (see: Jon Bernthal on The Punisher, Sonequa Martin-Green on Star Trek: Discovery and Danai Gurira in Black Panther). He’s a fan convention veteran at this point, so he’d have no trouble on the Comic-Con stage. At the same time, you probably don’t know who he is if you don’t watch The Walking Dead, so he’d be a fresh face to most audiences, like Jackman was to many when he started as Wolverine back in 2000, which would make it easier to accept him as the new Wolverine.
And Fox and Marvel may need a new Wolverine in the not-too-distant future, since there’s a spin-off movie about Logan‘s Laura Kinney (Dafne Keen) in the works. And they may just reboot the character on its own at some point, since Wolverine-centric movies have made over a billion dollars worldwide.
When the time comes to audition, Tom Payne will have his claws strapped on and ready to get Jackman-level jacked.
“If they did recast the Wolverine part, I’d be well up for it,” he says.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.