Chris Hardwick on Sunday resumed Talking Dead hosting duties following the end of a short-lived suspension over allegations of sexual assault.
Chloe Dykstra, an actress and former host for Nerdist, published a blog post in June accusing an unnamed ex of emotional and sexual abuse during their relationship; readers quickly connected her story to her relationship with Hardwick. He released a statement shortly after, denying her claims of sexual assault. He was subsequently benched by AMC, which conducted its own investigation and concluded that he was fit to return to work. The network’s statement, which was first released on July 25, reads as follows:
Following a comprehensive assessment by AMC, working with Ivy Kagan Bierman of the firm Loeb & Loeb, who has considerable experience in this area, Chris Hardwick will return to AMC as the host of Talking Dead and Talking with Chris Hardwick. We take these matters very seriously and given the information available to us after a very careful review, including interviews with numerous individuals, we believe returning Chris to work is the appropriate step.
In his Talking Dead return, following the Season 4B premiere of Fear the Walking Dead, Hardwick addressed the allegations with an emotional statement.
“Normally, I recap the show we’re about to talk about here, but instead, I really just want to take a minute and say I’m so appreciative to be standing here right now,” he began. “And I want to thank you, The Walking Dead community, for all of your support these last couple of months.
“This show is not just a job to me,” he continued through tears. “This is a vital part of my life, and this has been a sanctuary these last seven years we’ve been here. This has been with me through good times and bad times, and I have so much gratitude to you, the fans, and the producers and the amazing casts of both of these shows for allowing me to come here and be a part of this community every week. This is what this is. This is a community. We’re on the precipice of a lot of changes on both Walking Dead shows in the coming weeks and months, and I am so looking forward to going on that journey with you. And I’ve said the following words a million times, countless times, and yet I have never been more thankful than I am in this very moment to say to you that I am Chris Hardwick and this is Talking Dead.”
Later, Hardwick addressed special guest Yvette Nicole Brown, who hosted The Walking Dead Season 9 preview special in his absence and moderated AMC’s myriad San Diego Comic-Con panels. “You are such an amazing friend,” he told her. “You are a gift on this planet, and you stepped in and did amazing jobs at the Comic-Con panel and last week on the preview special. I have so much appreciation for you. You are so much a part of this family, and I was honored to have you sit in, and you are my true friend, and I just love you so much.”
What did you think of Hardwick’s Talking Dead statement? Drop your thoughts in a comment below. (Video will be added if/when it is made available.)