A perennial San Diego Comic-Con favorite, AMC’s The Walking Dead once again made their panel appearance on Friday at Hall H.
Series stars Andrew Lincoln, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, David Morrissey (who came out to a mix of boos and applause for his villainous character), Scott Wilson, and Chad Coleman joined executive producer and showrunner Scott Gimple, executive producer Robert Kirkman, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, executive producer Dave Alpert, and special effects makeup supervisor and executive producer Greg Nicotero in a panel moderated by Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist, Talking Dead).
Kirkman said this season would get “way crazier” than last season in an escalation of intensity. Gimple concurred “it’s going to get insane very quickly.” Nicotero said the show learns from past seasons how to build more originality into the show, like an upcoming “coolest walker gag ever.” Hurd said the crew spirit is high with the goal of bringing the best upcoming season ever. Alpert said the challenge of seeing characters written off the show drives the writers to work harder and making the show better. In regards to the characters thinking The Governor is gone forever, he said the most dangerous thing for the remaining cast is to get comfortable and complacent. This statement was followed by a trailer for the upcoming season.
The trailer showed that Woodbury, the prison where Rick and his group have made a home, is now compromised by walkers. More disturbingly, it seems like someone has been leading the walkers there; also, the walkers are coming in droves and are even more aggressive. It’s obvious from the footage that a lot of characters are in danger and won’t see it through til the end of the season.
“Why go back to the prison?,” asked Hardwick. Lincoln said that gets answered this season, while Rick finds himself in a new place, repressing his brutality and renouncing some leadership in order to be a better parent.
Gurira said Michonne will start to open up to let herself be part of a family. She also said the physicality of the role doesn’t get easier, and she had to learn to ride a horse this season. Yeun said Glenn is constantly evolving and had to go through a terrible evolution with someone he cares about and now all he sees is vengeance and ends up pushing Maggie’s love aside. Cohan agreed that Maggie wanted to move on faster than Glenn, and that testing of the relationship propelled her character for the upcoming season. Wilson said his motivation for the upcoming season is just to hold onto his other leg! He said Herschel’s glad to be a part of such a tight on-screen family. Coleman said this is the kind of environment any actor would want to live in and as a character Tyrese is just trying to negotiate the rules of the group, but is motivated to do the right thing, despite the world not allowing him to operate that way. Morrissey said the Governor has felt betrayed and is looking for revenge this season. Before shooting the new season, he thought the Governor would snap and deal with his failure in a bad way. Reedus was moved when reading the script where Merle died and feels that his character needed that change in order for him to grow up. Lincoln said Andrea’s death was the catalyst his character needed to move on as well. Gurira said despite the ugliness of the world around them, there is beauty and hope to be had.
Fan Q&A started with a question asking if Michonne and Rick might get together since Andrea is dead, to which Kirkman replied, “Anything is possible.” Reedus and Gurira were asked how the recent deaths of those close to their characters would drive them moving forward. As loner characters, Reedus said they’d likely bond in condolences and who knows what might happen.
Lincoln said it’s the first time he’s done a show that’s lasted so long, and he finds it hard to see characters dying off. He was floored seeing the death of Andrea, and in particular how it affected Rick’s son. One of Lincoln’s favorite things working on the show is the unity of being pulled out of emotions by different characters at different times. Gurira noted that since Laurie Holden introduced her (and her character) into the world of The Walking Dead, it’s wrenching to see characters like Andrea die off. Kirkman mentioned that the screening room in Atlanta has a wall devoted to all the characters that have died, aptly called ‘The Grateful Dead’.
Yeun felt grateful that Glenn has been able to play so many aspects from young kid to action hero to lover, and also reiterated how hard it is to see a regular cast member like Dale die off. He also mentioned that John Bernthal, who played Shane, coaxed him to learn boxing at his gym just as Glenn was staring to become more of an action-heavy character.
A fan asked when the Zombie Apocalypse actually happens, how would the panel prepare? Kirkman said he’d probably kill himself. Lincoln said he’d be useless, but Chandler Riggs (Carl) would be ready. Reedus said he’d take over a hotel, spraypaint himself silver, run around naked, and watch South Park. Lincoln and Morrissey were asked how their two alpha male characters fed off each other’s intensity. Morrissey said he was grateful of how well their fight scenes were written, and didn’t speak much to Lincoln outside of their well-rehearsed lines. Lincoln joked that on the day they shot, most of the crew wore shirts rooting for Rick, to which Morrissey protested in denial that they did not claiming that the shirts had eye patches on them (like his character).
Morrissey was asked if his character would sing, in reference to a viral video from his role in Blackpool (see below). He said the Governor would likely not end up singing, nor would The Walking Dead likely have a musical episode.
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