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6 TV Stars Who Feared For Their Lives After Playing Hated Characters

Esquire (UK) logo Esquire (UK) 11/10/2017 Morgan Jeffery

6 TV Stars Who Feared For Their Lives After Playing Hated Characters © PA 6 TV Stars Who Feared For Their Lives After Playing Hated Characters It's always fun to pile in on a TV villain, and there's nothing more satisfying than when a hated character gets their much-deserved comeuppance.

Sometimes, though, 'fans' take things too far. Way too far. This unfortunate lot were all subject to abuse, harassment and even death threats after playing a divisive character in a hit show.

1. Seth Gilliam (The Walking Dead)

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Gilliam's character Father Gabriel has evolved a lot since his debut on the zombie series in 2014. He started out as an ineffectual scaredy-cat whose cowardice endangered others, but he's become a valuable member of Rick Grimes's anti-Negan strike force.

In the beginning, though, fans loathed Gabriel, and his alter-ego recently revealed he'd even received death threats from angry Walking Dead viewers.

"It took a little getting used to, the death threats, and realising they were coming from 13-year-old boys in the basement of their Wisconsin home, as opposed to people who were really meaning me harm," he recalled.

Though he acknowledged that the threats were really just a sign of "how seriously people are involved with the characters", Gilliam admitted that they made him a "little uncomfortable" – understandably!

"For a while, I felt the lines were kind of blurred, because it's so personal," he said.

2. Carice van Houten (Game of Thrones)

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Boo, Melisandre, boo! It was the Red Priestess who manipulated Stannis (Stephen Dillane) into burning alive his young daughter Shireen (Kerry Ingram), convinced that the blood magic would guarantee his victory in battle.

Devastating, sure, but the scene provoked a massive overreaction in some GoT followers, who – you guessed it – sent death threats to actress Van Houten. "There are people who take it a little bit too seriously," she said (understatedly) earlier this year.

Of course, Melisandre was later instrumental in resurrecting Jon Snow (Kit Harington), an act which saw many fans forgive her past indiscretions, with the threats reportedly replaced by marriage proposals.

3. Josh McDermitt (The Walking Dead)

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Turns out there's a very... "passionate" sub-sect of Walking Dead fans who just love to misdirect their frustrations with a character at the actor playing the part.

As well as Seth Gilliam's experiences (above), the abuse got so bad for Eugene actor Josh McDermitt, in the aftermath of Eugene's decision to side with uber-villain Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), that the star decided to quit all social media and delete his accounts.

In a video posted online shortly beforehand, he fumed: "Don't send me death threats, because I will report all that shit to the cops.

"You can hate Eugene, I don't care. You can think whatever you want. But when you start saying you hope I die, I don't know if you're talking about Josh or Eugene. I gotta report that shit – so just don't be an asshole!"

Preach, Josh, preach.

4. Bertie Carvel (Doctor Foster)

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"I don't know what kind of comeuppance people are wishing for – whether there's death and castration involved," Carvel told Digital Spy back in 2015, after the first hit series of Doctor Foster left viewers baying for his character Simon Foster's blood.

This year's second series did deliver a less grisly form of punishment, with Simon driven almost to suicide as he lost his new wife, his infant daughter, his home and his job. But that didn't stop fans wishing ill on him – and much worse, according to the actor who plays him.

"I've got to walk from here to the Old Vic and I'm hoping people don't throw paint on me," Carvel admitted on This Morning in 2015, while he later told Radio Times: "With the millions who watch it, there are likely to be one or two who can't distinguish between me and the character. So I suppose that puts me at risk."

5. Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)

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By the end of her time playing Skyler White on Breaking Bad, Gunn felt compelled to write an editorial for the New York Times in which she described how "the hatred of Skyler [had] blurred into loathing for [her] as a person".

Sure, Bryan Cranston's character Walter White was by this point a drug lord who was responsible for a number of deaths, but it was his tortured wife Skyler who drew the ire of viewers.

Gunn understood the need to sympathise with Walt. "Because Walter is the show's protagonist, there is a natural tendency to empathise with and root for him, despite his moral failings," she wrote.

But she drew the line when one 'fan' on a message board posted a death threat directed at her, not the character. "Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?"

How indeed?

6. Brenock O'Connor (Game of Thrones)

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As Carice Van Houten (above) would testify, GoT fans are dedicated. And no question, GoT's Olly was a little sod. In fact, Digital Spy readers named him the fourth biggest s*** in all of Westeros, beaten only by utter b******* Ramsay Bolton (Iwan Rheon), Joffrey Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) and Walder Frey (David Bradley).

First, he killed fan favourite Ygritte (Rose Leslie) with an arrow to the heart, then he turned on his Lord Commander, knifing Jon through the heart.

The hate came thick and fast for actor O'Connor, but happily the then-16-year-old didn't take the vicious backlash all that seriously. "If you get people from Spain and Portugal and all over the world saying they are going to kill your family, you just can't take it to heart or you would not cope," he said in 2016. "I find it quite funny."


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