EXPERIENCE PAYNE HAD IN COMBAT TRAINING BEFORE TWD
“I was a gymnast when I was a teenager, but I did it so I could do backflips and impress girls,” jokes Payne. “That was the extent of my training.” To play Jesus, a character known for his impressive fighting skills, Payne turned to martial artist Stephen Ho and Milan Costich, founder of an LA boxing studio. Payne has spent equal time on strength and conditioning. “In between rounds of boxing,” explains Costich, “we’d incorporate one-minute burst intervals of plyometrics, such as jump squats, pop lunges, squat thrusts and burpees.”
LITRES OF WATER HE CONSUMED PER DAY ON SET
This was when filming in Atlanta from May to November. “It’s incredibly hot,” says Payne. “My character wears a padded vest, a long leather overcoat, a woolly hat and gloves. I spend the day in a sweatbox of my own making!” Staying hydrated regulates your body temperature and lubricates your joints, especially when you’re engaging in heavy physical activity in sweltering temperatures.
DAYS IT TOOK HIM TO MASTER A JUMP SIDEKICK
TWD exec Scott Gimple gave Ho a photo of a jump sidekick – the basis for creating Payne’s fighting style.“Tom is agile and co-ordinated, so he mastered it quickly,” says Ho. “He’s a lightweight fighting heavyweights. He just has to be faster.” To achieve that speed, Ho had Payne practise quick-twitch motions and defensive sparring.
MINUTES HE SPENT DURING A BOXING ROUND
“Three-minute rounds keep you engaged and push you past your comfort zone,” says Costich. Each round of boxing on the bags also mixed in work on focus mitts, to sharpen Payne’s accuracy and punch recoil. Every hour-long session ends with 12 minutes of core work, like Russian twists, cross-connects and reverse sit-ups. “I feel more confident in my physicality,” says Payne.