To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.
Fans of The Walking Dead know Cooper Andrews as Jerry, the faithful steward to Khary Payton’s King Ezekiel. Andrews’s character brings comic relief to a show that can be terrifying at times, so it’s no surprise that the actor quickly became a fan favorite. But what about his real, pre-apocalypse life? When he’s not playing Ezekiel’s ax-toting right-hand man, Andrews keeps busy in the kitchen and at conventions, but there’s a whole lot more to know about him.
1. He has a unique ancestry
Andrews is a Samoan Jew. According to his bio on Treasure Valley Comic Con, The Walking Dead star is half Samoan from his father’s side and of Jewish-Hungarian ancestry on his mother’s side. Andrews told Comicbook.com he’s not as in touch with his Samoan side as you would assume. “I’m half-Samoan, but I don’t know a whole lot of the Samoan culture,” he said. “I was raised by my mom, I was raised Jewish. I’m one of the very few Samoan Jews in the world, which is funny. She’s in the Peace Corps, and that’s where she met my dad, but I never knew my dad. I was raised by my mom, who is a New York Jew.”
2. He started out as a sound guy
Andrews had an interest in filmmaking in high school; while in the drama club he made short films with his friends. After working on independent films, he went on to work as a boom operator on higher budget TV shows and movies. “I’m in the union for that as well,” Andrews told Fanfest earlier this year. “I did it for over 10 years, doing sound. Sixty to 80 hours a week learning the process. I started learning about lighting, what lights work, started going into sound, what makes for good sound. It was pretty paramount because it’s the most neglected thing. And it’s the one thing in movies that if it doesn’t sound right, [people] feel like the movie sounds amateur and they don’t really know why.”
3. He really likes cobbler and he hands it out at convention appearances
Andrews loves raspberries — his mom’s Raspberry Mountain Pie is one of his favorites — but he holds a special place in his heart (or stomach!) for cobbler. After his character famously delivered a peach cobbler to Carol (Melissa McBride) last season on TWD, the actor began to make homemade cobblers to dish out to fans at conventions. Andrews recently tweeted, “There WILL be cobbler at #WSCAtlanta and I will be PERSONALLY making it with my Mom.” When a fan commented that he would like to buy two or three of the homemade desserts, Andrews responded with: “The cobbler is for anyone who says hi.”
4. He has a martial arts background
Cooper told Fanfest he’s been into martial arts since he was three years old, when his mom started training him with wiffle ball bats. “She was into fencing, so she started teaching me the basics,” he said. “I guess her biggest fear was I would have anger issues so she put me in martial arts early. So there was a lot of training involved. So there was weapons, kung fu, tai chi, tae kwon do.” The actor revealed that as he got older, all of that training started to “click,” and he realized that at 350 pounds, he doesn’t have to be faster because he can be stronger. “So, fighting was huge,” he continued. “It kept me grounded. That kind of calmness has helped. I don’t really freak out.”
5. TWD isn’t his first AMC TV series
Before he became known as Jerry, Andrews appeared in another AMC series, Halt and Catch Fire. From 2014 to 2016, he played computer programmer Yo-Yo Engberk in 17 episodes of the ’80s-set series. “Halt and Catch Fire was the first of me trying to get used to being on television,” he told Comicbook.com. The actor also said that while he naturally likes to have a joke, Yo-Yo was actually a lot more serious. “He has a lot on his mind even though he has this playfulness to him, but there was always something brooding with him. It’s how I always played it,” he said.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
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