With The Walking Dead returning to AMC for its fourth season, Collider was invited to cover the premiere and catch some time with the cast and executive producers to find out what’s in store. In the new season, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the group of survivors thriving in the safe haven of the prison quickly find out that happiness is short-lived, as walkers and outside threats are no match for the danger brewing inside the fences. The group’s home and new way of life will be thoroughly tested, and their struggle to survive has never been at such rusk. The 16-episode season will air in two-parts, with the first eight episodes kicking off on October 13th, and the second eight episodes returning in February 2014.
While talking on the red carpet on their way into the Season 4 premiere screening, actor Andrew Lincoln (“Rick Grimes”) talked about what Rick Grimes’ state of mind is now, how he’s trying to handle things differently with his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), the most physically challenging stuff he’s had to do so far this season, how Rick feels about Michonne (Danai Gurira), and who his allies are now, while actress Sonequa Martin-Green (“Sasha”) talked about getting to work on both The Walking Dead and Once Upon A Time, kicking some more ass this season, facing surprising and unexpected threats, and how much she enjoys getting grimy on the show. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
ANDREW LINCOLN: That’s a good question, and it’s addressed in the first episode. You realize that he’s a man who’s stepping away from that. He’s a quieter man. He’s stepping away from leadership and the brutality of the world, for the sake of Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Judith. No father wants to see their son turn into a sociopath. He was killing other children. He realized that, for the sake of Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and the rest of the group, he had to step up.
What’s it like to play a character who’s slipping in and out of sanity, at this point?
LINCOLN: You meet him six-ish months later, give or take, and he’s a man healing. So, Hershel (Scott Wilson) is vitally important. He’s become a mentor to him. And you see a man repressing that brutality and the grief that manifested in many different ways last season. He feels like a man trying to hold onto something and try a new way.
Rick is clearly trying to handle things differently with Carl this season, but at the same time, he really sees that he also needs to allow Carl to be able to protect himself, too. Will that be a constant back-and-forth within himself?
LINCOLN: It can be addressed as a question. The theme for this season is, “Can we ever come back from the things that we’ve done?” The girl, in the first episode, who asks what the three questions are (that she has to answer, in order to come stay at the prison), and she says to me, almost like a curse, “You can never come back from the things you’ve done,” it’s a terribly frightening and mortifying thing for him. Someone says his innermost fear out loud. That struggle between a boy becoming a man and a father accepting that is very much an arc that we’re exploring this season.
Sonequa, how much fun has it been to do both The Walking Dead and Once Upon A Time, and work in two such completely different fantasy worlds?
SONEQUA MARTIN-GREEN: So much fun! It’s different characters and different worlds. They’re just so completely different. It’s been totally refreshing and challenging and very inspiring. It made me grow. It’s been wonderful.
What’s it like to get to kick some more ass this season, and to get to be a bit more secure, in one place, with this group of people in the prison?
MARTIN-GREEN: Not being secure affects us, as humans. It throws us off our balance. It puts us in disarray. So, having that place where she can finally sit down really made an impact on her. They had been on the road, on the run, in the woods, going to and fro, for a long time. You’ll just get to see more of who she really is, this season, because of that.
And then, of course, things start to go to hell pretty quickly.
MARTIN-GREEN: Yeah, they do! And it’s gonna come with its share of problems. Absolutely!
Do you think Sasha had even given much thought, before now, that there still is that human threat out there, and not just the zombie threat?
MARTIN-GREEN: Oh, absolutely not! I don’t think anybody has thought of it. I think everybody has thought that we have to take care of the walkers and the people who are crazy, like the Governor, (David Morrissey) and that’s it. I don’t think anybody is expecting any additional threats. So, it shocks everybody when they come.
Since things have opened up a bit more for Sasha, who have you enjoyed getting to work with this season, that you didn’t get a chance to work with last season?
MARTIN-GREEN: I would say everybody, in general. We’re together. So, I would say that getting to be with everyone has been really great. Being a regular member of the family that we’ve come to know so well has been great.
Do you enjoy getting in there and getting dirty and bloody and gross, especially when it comes to these fights with the zombies?
MARTIN-GREEN: You know what? I do! It’s so crazy, and it really helps you. You get in there and you get all dirty and grimy, and then you look in the mirror and it’s done. You’re like, “Okay, it’s time to go be in the zombie apocalypse.” You can’t escape it. You’re so dirty, at the end of the day.
Andrew, what’s the most physically challenging stuff you’ve had to do, so far this season?
LINCOLN: Pig farming was pretty challenging. That was one of the stranger days at the office. I had a sequence where I was handling a lot of pigs. When you pick the piglets up, and they’re quite big, they tend to poop. It was an incredibly smelly day that lasted for a long time. I just couldn’t get rid of the smell for four days. There was blood, sweat and pig poop.
How do you think Rick feels about Michonne (Danai Gurira), at this point?
LINCOLN: Everybody is talking that there’s romance going on. There’s a lot of subtext. I must be doing something really deep. It’s strange because she’s still grieving for Andrea (Laurie Holden) and she’s still searching for the Governor (David Morrissey). We want her to join the group, but she doesn’t want to be a part of the group. There’s all these new people, and she’s a lone wolf. That’s a sadness that Rick feels because he’s starting to begin again, start civilization and believe that they can make a viable go of it, and he sees her still in pain and still hurting from that. Perhaps that’s been construed as romance, but I think it’s just general concern for a fellow friend and someone he recognizes because they’re similar people.
Who is most important to Rick this season, as far as allies?
LINCOLN: Everybody. The thing I love about Rick is that he began with the driving force, in the first episode, that got him out of bed after three and a half weeks, was his wife and child. That was his engine. And then, what happened was that he found his wife and child, and he met this other family who was this rag-tag band of misfits, and they became his apocalyptic family. People that you would never expect to join together did. And then, he lost Lori and they became even more vital to him. Hershel, Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride) and everybody, in their own way, pulls each other through. I think that’s the thing that I love most about the show. People, at different times, unexpectedly help each other just to live, like they do in life.
The Walking Dead returns to AMC on October 13th.