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After ‘Dead’ Riggs goes walking in LA

Chandler Riggs’ advice to those still playing the living among “The Walking Dead” is, “Don’t buy a house.”

Riggs played Carl, the son of Deputy Rick Grimes, on the long-running AMC series that follows the human survivors of a zombie apocalypse.

Cast at age 10, he’d been working on the show nearly half of his life. “Walking Dead” had a reputation for killing off regular characters, but Carl survives in the comic book series that inspired it, and he played an integral role in the storyline that was part of the show’s eighth season.

That didn’t stop Carl from suffering a walker bite, leading to teary farewells (both on camera and off) and a self-inflicted bullet to the head.

“I definitely didn’t see it coming,” Riggs said during a telephone interview last week. “I don’t think anyone saw it coming. I just bought a house. I was going to go to the University of Georgia because it was near the set. I could go to college and do the show at the same time. I had it all figured out.”

Riggs, 21, has nothing but fond memories of his time on the show. Carl may have lost an eye and suffered other physical scars from his battles with the undead, but Riggs carries no emotional scars from playing a kid forced to kill his mother and witness other atrocities on a series that frequently pushes the boundaries of violence and gore on basic cable.

“It was so much fun,” he said. “I loved playing all the zombie-killing video games. It was so much fun to literally be able to live those games and be a part of something where I can go around and shoot zombies … The source material doesn’t dictate the mood on the set. I had so much fun every day.”

Riggs grew up near Atlanta, where “The Walking Dead” is shot. After Carl’s death, he changed his plans, deciding to put off college and moving to Los Angeles to continue acting. He now has a recurring role on ABC’s “A Million Little Things,” a role in the upcoming film “Only” and frequently appearances at pop culture conventions like Wizard World Cleveland this weekend at the Huntington Convention Center.

“It’s amazing to be able to meet fans and talk to them on a personal level. Hearing how my character changed people’s live is like the coolest thing ever,” Riggs said.

While shows tied to horror and comic books are perceived to have more fanatical viewers than other genres, Riggs said he gets many fans of “A Million Little Things” in his line at conventions, and he believes they relate just as passionately to the more realistic storylines of the dramatic series.

“Only,” starring Freida Pinto and Lesley Odom Jr., takes Riggs back to the fantastical, although he’s no longer on the side of the good guys. The movie is set in the near future after a virus has killed most of the female population. The surviving women are being rounded up and quarantined to serve as breeders to keep society alive.

“There also are some people like my character who are looking to hunt them down for similar reasons,” Riggs said. “It was a lot of fun, completely different from anything I’ve done before.”

If you go …

WHAT: Wizard World Cleveland

WHEN: 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday

WHERE: Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland, 300 Lakeside Ave., Cleveland

HOW MUCH: Admission is $19.99 on Friday, $54.99 on Saturday and $44.99 on Sunday and $79.99 for three-day pass. For more information, go to wizardworld. com/comiccon/cleveland

GUEST LIST: Celebrities scheduled to appear include Caitriona Balfe, Duncan Lacroix, Richard Rankin and Colin McFarlane from “Outlander; Tyler Hoechlin, Ian Bohen, Khylin Rhambo and Dylan Sprayberry from “Teen Wolf”; Mehcad Brooks and Jesse Rath from “Supergirl”; Cary Elwes and Wallace Shawn from “The Princesss Bride”; Chandler Riggs from “The Walking Dead”; Lou Ferrigno from “The Incredible Hulk”; Emily Swallow from “Supernatural” and “The Mandalorian”; and Samm Levine from “Freaks and Geeks.”

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