Though in previous years TV panels were relegated to Sunday in Hall H at Comic-Con, this year the television shows invaded the 6,000 seater on Friday in a big way. One of the most anticipated panels was for AMC’s The Walking Dead, and Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick hilariously moderated the panel packed with the series’ stars as well as creator Robert Kirkman and showrunner Glen Mazzara. Hit the jump to read my full recap.
Check out the new trailer for season three of The Walking Dead followed by the panel recap [spoiler alert: the trailer features the return of a long-lost character]:
Moderator Chris Hardwick walked onto the stage to great applause before bringing out executive producer/creator Robert Kirkman, executive producer David Alpert, special effects supervisor/co-executive producer Greg Nicotero, executive producer Gale Anne Hurd and showrunner/executive producer Glen Mazzara. He opened by asking Kirkman to tell us everything that happens in detail.
- Kirkman said “we have a thing called a prison,” that’s set to feature heavily in the upcoming third season. Hardwick, who visited the set recently, added that the prison doesn’t look like a set, it looks like a real prison.
- Alpert said that he feels the pace picked up towards the end of season two (ie. when Frank Darabont left), and Hardwick added that the energy at the end of the season essentially shut up the naysayers who complained about the show’s pacing.
- Nicotero, the effects guru responsible for the fantastic zombie makeup, said that they’re always changing the contact lenses and dentures and trying to make new and different zombies. Nicotero said that they really want to sell that they’re decomposing and emaciated, “and there are a lot of them.”
- As time goes on, the zombies will be decomposing further and further so Nicotero said that they’re upping the ante for season three. He also just finished directing his first episode a couple of weeks ago.
- Nicotero said that there are iconic things from the graphic novel that appear in the episode that he directed.
- Hurd said that this season has been fantastic because not only do they have the prison, but they have Woodbury, Michonne, and The Governor.
- As far as how true they’re sticking to the characters from the comics, Hurd said that Michonne will have plenty of katana wielding action. She added that the intensity level is “incredible.”
- Regarding pulling back on some of the more graphic stuff that happens, Mazzara said that they want to stay true to the graphic novel, stay raw, and have people invested.
- Mazzara announced that the season will premiere on Sunday, October 14th at 8pm.
- The new season will roll out on October 15th internationally.
Hardwick then announced a really fantastic montage/trailer that gave us a great look at the upcoming season. It opened with Michonne teamed up with Andrea, looking up at a helicopter flying over the sky. I’m remiss to reveal more for fear of spoiling fans, but we saw the group move towards the prison (Rick proclaims “This prison is ours”).
We also saw some brief, eerily calm clips of David Morrissey as The Governor welcoming the group to Woodbury, and a final tag that made the crowd go wild. Though I’m not a diehard fan of the show, I have to admit that this trailer makes season three look really, really, really good. Intense, action-packed, claustrophobic, chilling, and thrilling.
Hardwick then brought out the rest of the cast including Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Norman Reedus, Laurie Holden, Stephen Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Danai Gurira, and David Morrissey
- Sarah Wayne Calles opened by saying, “I understand if some of you are mad at me…”
- They brought the lights up so the panelists could see the whole crowd, and Reedus commented that it “looks like Christmas in here.”
- Talking about his character, Reedus said that finding himself out from under the thumb of his brother he’s finding himself being needed and appreciated.
- Holden said that at the end of season two she was saved by Michonne, and this is a very different season for Andrea because she’s away from the group and becomes friends with this alpha female as they’re battling the elements.
- Yeun said in this third season his character is manning up and doing what he needs to be doing. He added that these questions are so hard to answer because they can’t reveal anything. Hardwick added that he “could be reading the ingredients to Bisquick and these people would be jazzed.”
- Cohan said that the farm is like a walk in the park compared to what they’re dealing with now.
- Though they previously complained about the heat while shooting outside, they all now say the air-conditioning is terrible when they’re filming in the prison.
- When asked how her life has changed since landing the role of Michonne, Gurira said she’s learned to wield a katana sword and is loving playing the character.
- Morrissey talked about coming into this show that already has an iconic place in pop culture. He said he came in as a fan of the show since he was already friends with Lincoln and had been watching the show in England.
- Morrissey added that he’s always wanted to come to Comic-Con so this panel was a dream come true for him.
- Hardwick asked Morrissey if there were any major changes in coming from English productions to American productions, and he said that they never have a problem with heat while filming in the U.K.
- When asked about blurring the lines between good and evil, Lincoln said that he saved reading Cormac McCarthy’s The Road until now, and he finds Rick in a similar position this season on the show. Rick has isolated himself from the group and his marriage in an effort to protect everybody.
Hardwick then opened the panel up to audience’s questions, and things turned to the inappropriately hilarious:
- Asked what role he would like to play on the show other than his own, Lincoln said he’s having a bit of a bromance with Norman Reedus. More seriously, he talked about how Chandler Riggs has evolved in the role of Carl and talked about how interesting that character has become.
- The British actors on the panel revealed that they have training exercises every Sunday on Skype to work on their American accents. Hardwick suggested they just go sit in a Cracker Barrel for a few hours to pick up the Southern inflection.
- Someone in line asked how they got away with showing Andrea putting her hand down Shane’s pants, to which Holden replied, “That was just a hand! You should’ve seen what we really did.”
- A girl walked up wearing a Team Dixon shirt and proclaimed her love for Reedus’ Daryl Dixon. Hardwick tried to work his magic, saying, “I hosted a dating show, I know how this shit works.”
- Another young girl walked up and proclaimed her love for Stephen Yeun, and the actor’s face turned bright, bright red as he took a swig of water. She revealed her age to be 12 and Yeun got up and started walking away from the stage.
- Kirkman was asked if the show has affected his writing of the comic book, but he said that he maps everything out so far in advance that he’s not exactly changing things to fit the show.
- Yet another underage girl walked up and proclaimed her love for Stephen, and Hardwick didn’t miss a beat: “We know your demographic now, Stephen. We know that you’re not allowed at Legoland.” Yeun finally spoke up and apologized for his face being so red, then Hardwick shot back, “I’m just gonna throw you into the Twilight panel.”
- Callies was asked how much she has in common with her character and she recounted how many times she’s been confronted and scolded for Lori’s actions on the show.
- Cohan said that she’s a bit of a romantic, so in that respect she’s similar to Maggie.
- The writers were asked about their negative portrayal of women on the show, specifically Lori. Callies sharply responded with the tone of someone making an incredibly important point, “Lori told Rick not to kill Shane, but to watch his back. And he did, and Shane turned, and Lori was right.” Game. Set. Match.
They ended the panel by showing the trailer once again. Hardwick proved that he should be moderating every single Comic-Con panel, and the cast of The Walking Dead looked to be having a lot of fun. Though they weren’t exactly forthcoming with story details, judging by the extended trailer it looks like we’re in for a pretty damn enthralling third season.