Speaking to RadioTimes.com, executive producer Denise Huth said: “I’m so excited to get to Dante. He’s such a great character in the comic books.”
In the source material, Dante strikes up a romantic relationship with the character of Maggie – but the TV version of that character no longer appears on The Walking Dead, with actress Lauren Cohan quitting in 2018.
“It’s one of those situations where, just [because of] the nature of where we are in the show and the characters who are no longer here, we had to bring Dante in a little bit of a different way than what you’re expecting,” Huth explained.
The Walking Dead comic: Maggie and DanteImage Comics
“In the comics, he’s very much tied to Maggie’s story and right now Maggie’s not here. But it was fun to introduce such a great character from the books and bring him in in a very different way.”
But while Dante will be introduced to the series in Maggie’s absence, could we one day see their comic book dynamic played out on-screen? Some fans have already taken the character’s introduction as a sign that Cohan could return to the show.
“All I can say about Maggie is she’s one of my favourite characters as well,” Huth said. “I adore Lauren Cohan and there’s always the hope and prayer that she’s coming back to us. So I’m very hopeful that we will see her again.”
The 10th season of The Walking Dead will feature 19 series regulars overall, with Ryan Hurst (Beta), Eleanor Matsuura (Yumiko), Cooper Andrews (Jerry), Nadia Hilker (Magna), Cailey Fleming (Judith), Cassady McClincy (Lydia) and Lauren Ridloff (Connie) all promoted to series regular status after previously having recurring roles.
Huth described the show’s unusually large cast as one of its “greatest gifts and one of our greatest challenges.” “They’re all amazing actors, they’re all incredibly talented and you wanna be able to give them all a story and serve all of their stories really well, which can be difficult to do when we have 42-minute episodes every week,” she said.
“So it certainly is a challenge, but it’s kind of what makes the show fun. I always enjoy when we get to have characters having conversations with other characters who they haven’t really interacted with in the past, exploring how you can shake them up and discover new things about these characters.
“It’s not necessarily a ton of screen-time for everyone – again, just [because of] the constraints of our running time – but everyone’s impactful.”
The Walking Dead season ten will premiere on Monday 7th October at 9pm on FOX in the UK.