Khary Payton
Khary Payton as Ezekiel (with Shiva) in ‘The Walking Dead’

Word on “Walk Dead” street earlier this year was that AMC issued a casting call for what will be a recurring role for a character named Augustus, who, according to “Walking Dead” graphic novel experts who saw the casting notice, read just like a character in the source material named Ezekiel – a former zookeeper and self-proclaimed king of The Kingdom, described as flamboyant, wise, and weird, and one of the “good guys.” He also has a pet tiger named Shiva.

From the “Walking Dead” wiki: Ezekiel, more commonly known as “King” Ezekiel, is a main character – a self-proclaimed “king” of a community called “The Kingdom”, the namesake of his own community. Ezekiel has a pet tiger named Shiva. Ezekiel is a friend of the Hilltop Colony and a close friend to Paul Monroe. He also has a strong hatred for Negan and the Saviors, which caused Paul to bring Rick Grimes to him in the hopes of collaborating to defeat them. Ezekiel is an eccentric, affable, and somewhat flamboyant old man. He is charismatic and possesses an aura of wisdom. He is perceived by many as arrogant due to his theatrics as the “king” of his people, and Ezekiel admits such views to be somewhat true. Ezekiel is very confident in his presence. He generally keeps a cool head and a friendly demeanor, reveling in the respect others have for him. However, he is revealed to be relatively insecure, as seen during the All-Out War and his post-timeskip relations with Michonne. This insecurity juxtaposes his outward appearance, and he wishes for his “subjects” not to see him as weak. He is very optimistic, but he takes failures very hard.

Introducing The Kingdom into the TV series is a logical next step in the narrative’s continuation, given where the series is in relation to the graphic novel. The Kingdom also will help solidify a teaming up of the residents of Alexandria, the Hilltop and the Kingdom, to bring down Negan and the Saviors in what will become the aforementioned “All-Out War” story arc. Per the casting notice, producers were looking for an African American actor in his 40s; and while there was no formal announcement made of his casting, Khary Payton will play “Augustus”/”Ezekiel” in the upcoming 7th season of “The Walking Dead.”

This will probably be Payton’s highest profile role; he’s most known as a voice actor for his voice characterizations in animated cartoons, like Cyborg in the “Teen Titans” animated series and Aqualad in “Young Justice.” He also provided the voice of Drebin in the game “Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots,” Ripcord in “G.I. Joe: Renegades,” Blade in “Marvel: Ultimate Alliance” and Grimlock in “Transformers: Robots in Disguise.”

In terms of actual on-screen work, he recently appeared in a recurring role on the ABC daytime soap “General Hospital.”

AMC announced today from Comic-Con that “The Walking Dead” season 7 will premiere Sunday, October 23 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. As in previous seasons, the show’s 7th season of 16 episodes will air in two parts, with the first eight episodes kicking off October 23 and the final eight returning February 2017. Following “The Walking Dead” will be the season premieres of AMC’s “Talking Dead,” hosted by Chris Hardwick, at 10 p.m. ET/PT, and “Comic Book Men” at midnight ET/PT. Internationally, “The Walking Dead” will return on FOX channels to audiences in 125+ markets within 24 hours of the U.S. premiere.

Today at 1 p.m. PT was AMC’s “The Walking Dead” Comic-Con panel event, moderated by Hardwick, where the season 7  trailer premiered in Hall H, along with the new trailer for “Fear the Walking Dead.”

AMC also announced two “The Walking Dead” special programming events hosted by Hardwick. A “The Walking Dead Season 7 Preview Special,” which will give fans an early look at what to expect in the upcoming season, including exclusive interviews with the cast and executive producers and behind-the-scenes moments, premieres Sunday, August 14 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. A two-hour “‘The Walking Dead’ Recap Special” (working title), a retrospective on the series’ acclaimed six seasons, premieres Sunday, October 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

Watch the season 7 trailer for “The Walking Dead” (in which you’ll get a look at Ezekiel and Shiva), followed by the “Fear the Walking Dead” season 2B trailer: