The Walking Dead panel at New York Comic-Con 2013 began with moderator and comedienne Yvette Nicole Brown of Community introducing executive producer Gail Anne Hurd to the podium. It was clear many of the crowd members were already fans of Brown, which only increased the high energy permeating the theater. Hurd stated that the cast of the number one television show is â€œthe best Iâ€™ve ever worked with.â€ She then introduced a clip from the upcoming fourth season of the series.
The scene begins with Daryl, Michonne, and a new member of the group from the dismantled Woodbury sitting outside of a storefront. The new guy is trying to figure Daryl out, asking him if he was an undercover cop before the apocalypse began. This garners laughter from Michonne. The scene then cuts to Tyreese, Glenn, Sasha, and a group of heavily armed people entering into the building from another entrance. As they embark inside, the camera follows up the side of the building to the roof, which is covered with walker and a crashed helicopter.
â€œI want to make sure you all got what we just saw, people!â€ Brown said. â€œWe saw zombies, andâ€¦a helicopter!â€ The crowd erupted in laughter.
Brown quickly moved on to introducing the cast and crew. The audience stood to their feet to welcome Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman, executive producer and effects master Greg Nicotero, new showrunner Scott Gimple, Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan and Chad L. Coleman. Finally, Norman Reedus walked onto the stage to by far the loudest cheers. Yeun chimed in before any questions could be asked and said, â€œBefore we start with the questions, this is amazing, dude!â€ The crowd went wild. â€œYou guys are awesome. Thank you,â€ he said.
Brown began the discussion by directing a question to Robert Kirkman. â€œRobert,â€ she said, â€œyou created this world, is there a particular scene in the books that youâ€™re like, â€˜I canâ€™t wait for this?â€™â€
â€œThere are some amazing things that are coming up from the comics,â€ replied Kirkman. â€œThe new character, Negan, is awesome and I canâ€™t wait to get to him on the show.â€
Brown continued by addressing the entire cast. â€œAs an actor, do you have any weird casting experiences for this show?â€ Yeun was the first to respond by explaining how he moved to Los Angeles and auditioned for a different show first. â€œI was sure I was going to get it,â€ he said. When he it fell through, he was â€œcrushed.â€ Yeun went on to say that â€œa month later, The Walking Dead happened and if I had gotten that other gig, I wouldnâ€™t have been able to do this show. And that other show didnâ€™t last.â€
Moving the dialogue along to some of the more gory scenes in the program, Rick discussed the episode in season three in which he axed off Hershelâ€™s leg in order to save his life. â€œI watched that scene, and I was absolutely appalled by what I was doing,â€ he said of the 14-hour filming session. â€œMy wife phoned me that night and I said I had to chop his leg off twice. It was too much.â€ Yeun chimed in, expressing intrigue at the event. â€œThey told us to go home, and we were like, â€˜Hell no, weâ€™re staying and watching,’â€ he said.
Brown turned the conversation to Yeun (Glenn) and Cohen (Maggie) with a loaded question: â€œIf Maggie had to choose between Glenn and Hershel, who would she choose?â€ Cohen slung her arm around Yeun and stated, â€œI think my dad would want me to pick my boyfriend.â€ Yeun remarked with a laugh, â€œI would make her pick Hershel and then I would drift away on plywood forever.â€ The audience cheered and laughed at the obvious reference to James Cameronâ€™s Titanic.
As a new actor on the show, Coleman (Tyreese) was asked if it was daunting coming onto the show. Coleman responded, â€œPiece of cake. Iâ€™m kidding. It helped that Robert thought I could fill these shoes. That gave me a lot of confidence. Itâ€™s an amazing cast and so far, so good, right?â€ Echoing positive sentiments on Tyreeseâ€™s character, Kirkman admitted, â€œI wanted Chad to play Tyreese before The Walking Dead show even started when I was watching The Wire.â€ This statement, of course, received thunderous applause.
Fan favorite Reedus (Daryl) reflected on his character since the death of his brother, Merle. â€œHeâ€™s grown a lot. Heâ€™s grown into the man he wouldnâ€™t have been before,â€ Reedus said. â€œHe wears his heart on his sleeve and he loves these guys.â€ Of being a part of the show in general, he recalled, â€œI remember watching the pilot and thinking I would do anything just to get on this show.â€
The moderator also brought up that Reedus had mentioned a possible romance between Rick and Michonne on Talking Dead. â€œDaryl said on Talking Dead that he noticed Rick looking Michonne up and down in an episode and now fans are referring to them as ‘Richonne,'” Brown said. Lincoln shook his head and reminded the audience that Michonne is quite guarded: â€œMaybe in couple of seasons,â€ he said.
In casting news, Christian Serratos (Twilight, The Secret Life of an American Teenager) will portray Rosita Espinosa and Josh McDermitt (of TV Landâ€™s Retired at 35) will play Dr. Eugene Porter. According to Kirkman, â€œ[McDermitt] will be fully mulletedâ€ in the new season.
Surprisingly, the fan Q & A session started with a man cursing at Gimple and Kirkman and asking when the character, Abraham, is coming to the show. Tensions and comments escalated from the fan until it was revealed by Kirkman that the fan was planted and was, in fact, Michael Cudlitz (Southland) â€” the actor playing Sergeant Abraham Ford in season four.
The next person in line was a little girl who asked if she could give the cast a gift. The entire cast went to meet her at the bottom of the stage, seemingly smitten over her cuteness, and then brought her onto the stage with them. The girl handed them all friendship bracelets and ended up staying on stage for the entirety of the panel, sitting on Reedusâ€™ lap.
â€œWay back in season one,â€ another fan began, â€œdid you ever think Carol would be the strong female lead that she is today?â€ Gimple addressed the question by first stating, â€œMelissa [McBride] hated not coming tonight; she has the flu. And thatâ€™s a good question,â€ he continued on. â€œCarol in season one displayed a lot of strengths. In the beginning of last season, Rick tells her sheâ€™s become a really good shot. This season in the trailer sheâ€™s teaching the kids about knives. She had a daughter that died. Sheâ€™s making sure sheâ€™s not a victim and that the kids are not victims.â€
Another fan asked Reedus if Daryl would become involved romantically with Carol (Melissa McBride) to help ease the pain of the loss of his brother. â€œIâ€™m working on the girl thing. Iâ€™m doing my thing,â€ Reedus said. â€œIâ€™m practicing on the side.â€
Moving on, another audience member asked Lincoln what character he would switch with if he could change places with anyone. â€œCarl, the wonderful Chandler Riggs,â€ Lincoln responded. â€œChandler is going to kick ass this season. Just look for it in episode nine. Iâ€™m going to spoil it, I donâ€™t care,â€ he laughed.
Speaking to what Walking Dead fans can look forward to (or fear) in the future season, Lincoln reflected on a particular episode. â€œThereâ€™s an upcoming episode where I read the script and I couldnâ€™t speak for like ten minutes,â€ he said. â€œI needed to call the cast member just to hear a humanâ€™s voice afterwards.â€
Finally, amongst thousands of screaming fans, Executive Producer Hurd introduced a sneak peak into another scene, this time from further into season four. The rapt audience quickly quieted down to watch attentively.
In the scene, we see Daryl driving a car accompanied by Michonne, Tyreese, and a new character. As Michonne searches for a CD to put on, the group hears a scrambled voice on the radio. Daryl begins looking down and fiddling with the radio tuning when he abruptly hits a walker. One after another, he begins to run into walkers, which are now all over the road. As Daryl tries to move the vehicle forward, the camera pans out and reveals thousands of walkers headed in the groupâ€™s direction. Placing the car in reverse, he knocks several down, but then gets stuck on a large pile of zombies. The scene ends with a view of the spinning rear wheel, jutting into a zombie head and spraying blood everywhere.
[Additional contributing by Sarah Pfeffer.]
[Photos by Dave3 and Sarah Pfeffer for Geeks Of Doom.]
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