Exclusive: Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd Talk THE WALKING DEAD Season 2 and 3 at the Saturn Awards

     June 24, 2011

Frank Darabont and Gale Anne Hurd Talk THE WALKING DEAD Season 2 slice

“There’s no such thing as too big an axe. That’s the philosophy of the show, I’ve realized. There’s no such thing as too big an axe!”

This is how Academy Award-winner Frank Darabont describes his Saturn Award winning cable series, The Walking Dead, which will enter its’ sophomore season this fall on AMC.

Darabont and producer Gale Anne Hurd were on hand at the 37th annual Saturn Awards Thursday night and after accepting their award for Best Television Presentation, the duo gave us a few minutes of their time to discuss the show’s second season, including details on Michonne, which Darabont says is coming in the third season.  We also discuss films from the whole of Darabont’s career, debunk Nikki Finki’s rumor mill, get an peek into how killing a seven-year old became a mission statement for the show and more.  Hit the jump for 10 key quotes and the full audio interview.

Writer’s Note: In my transcript I have employed liberal usage of italics and exclamation points. Normally I would shy away from such tools, but if you listen to the audio I think you’ll agree that italics and exclamation points are exactly what is called for with Darabont’s distinctive intonation.

walking_dead_amc_tv_walker_zombie_imageIf you don’t have time to listen to the whole interview, here are a few choice quotes.

On Darabont directing in season two.

Darabont:“Hoping to do the last one. Hoping to do the 13th episode. That remains entirely…if [Hurd] lets me.

Hurd: “It’s more about the exigencies of post-production.”

Darabont: “It would suck not to.”

On Darabont’s theme of failed fathers..

Darabont: “Without getting too far into my relationship with my father, I’m sure that there is some complication that went into that…”

Hurd: (overlapping) “I never even thought about that!”

Darabont: “that shows up in my work, probably. But I think my father’s are kinder. Their intentions are better, whether things go right or wrong at least their hearts are in the right place…more than I can say for my dad!”  (uncomfortable laughter)

On a key zombie kill in season two.

Darabont: “I’m telling you right now, in episode two we have as unique a scene, its never been done before. If it has I’m going to jump off the cliff here. It’s as unique as when they chopped up a zombie in episode two of the first season.”

On gore.

Darabont: “There’s no such thing as too big an axe. That’s the philosophy of the show, I’ve realized. There’s no such thing as too big an axe!”

On the overblown rumors of continuing the show with only freelance writers.

Hurd: Don’t believe everything you read.

Darabont: “The big sensational headline last year was, “Darabont fires entire writing staff!” it sounded like I went in and slaughtered 12 people and threw their bodies in the dumpster. And that isn’t the case at all. There are two writers I didn’t invite back from last year for reasons I needn’t go into. But no, we put together a really good, solid regular staff this year and they’re doing inspired work. The only sense that it’s non-traditional is in the sense that I’m encouraging these guys, guys and gal to really color outside the lines and swing for the fences and not just sort of hit the marks of television writing but to try and do something really unique and different. And they’re really rising to that challenge.

Frank Darabont and Gale Anne HurdOn the longevity of the series.

Hurd: “When you consider that Robert Kirkman has over eighty issues of his comic book and he’s still going strong and won the Eisner Award last summer.”

Darabont: “And also, given that we’re expanding the video instead of collapsing it as we go, oh yeah.”

On when fans can expect to finally see Michonne.

Darabont: “I can officially tell you Michonne is coming in third season.”

Hurd: “If we get a third season. So everyone better watch season two.”

On favorite characters.

Hurd: “Andrea.”

Darabont: (overlapping) “I can see that.”

Hurd: Because people don’t expect that she is going to become the warrior that she becomes.

Darabont: Boy, is that a fun arc we’re doing this season. Oh my God. I love them all, I really care about them all and I really hate that we’ve killed some of them. I feel dirty when I do it.

On Darabont’s future as a theatrical horror director.

Darabont: “Oh, gosh! Yeah, I’d love to! I don’t have anything specifically planned; one spends one’s life looking for good material, hoping for good material and then you spend the other half of your life hoping someone will say yes to it when you find it.”

walkingdead_gale_anne_hurdOn killing a seven-year old girl in the first scene of the first episode.

Hurd: “We kill a zombie girl, a kid.

Q: in the very first scene.

Darabont: “The mission statement of the show is like that first scene.

Hurd: “Right there up front.”

Darabont: “When I say mission statement, it wasn’t purpose built for that reason. I just, you know, thought it was a really cool scene to pull us into that world in a teaser. But it became that in a sense. When we were cutting the show together I turned to Gale and I said, “Wow, look, we kill a seven-year old in the first scene.” It is kind of our mission statement, isn’t it? It kinda really sets the tone and clues the audience in, if you don’t dig this kinda stuff, you really should just tune out now. But if you do think this is intriguing, then stick around.

 

Here’s the time index of the interview.  Click here for the audio

Hurd discusses how comic author Robert Kirkman plans to integrate elements of the series into the book series.

FrankDarabont_Winner_WalkingDead_GeorgePalMemorial__37thAnnualSaturnAwards_PhotoBy_M4PR.com00:15 Will Darabont be directing any episodes this season?

Darabont:“Hoping to do the last one. Hoping to do the 13th episode. That remains entirely…if [Hurd] lets me.

Hurd: “t’s more about the exigencies of post-production.”

Darabont: “It would suck not to.”

00:50 I get all film theory on Darabont and ask him about why the father figures in his films are always so negative.

Darabont: “Without getting too far into my relationship with my father, I’m sure that there is some complication that went into that…”

Hurd: (overlapping) “I never even thought about that!”

Darabont: “that shows up in my work, probably. But I think my father’s are kinder. Their intentions are better, whether things go right or wrong at least their hearts are in the right place…more than I can say for my dad!

(uncomfortable laughter)

2:00 How difficult is it to create a new zombie kill? Darabont teases a special kill in episode two of the new season.

Darabont: “I’m telling you right now, in episode two we have as unique a scene, its never been done before. If it has I’m going to jump off the cliff here. It’s as unique as when they chopped up a zombie in episode two of the first season.”

Frank_Darabont2:50 How gory will season two be? Darabont talks about some of the behind the scenes footage on the DVD.

Darabont: “There’s no such thing as too big an axe. That’s the philosophy of the show, I’ve realized. There’s no such thing as too big an axe!”

3:35 Discussion of Nikki Finke’s allegations that the writing staff was fired between seasons. Darabont explains where the confusion/sensationalizing came from. Two writers were not brought back for season two, but there is a full writing staff and they’re using the British model for the writer’s room, which allowed them to have eight episodes written before shooting ever started.

Hurd: Don’t believe everything you read.

Darabont: “The big sensational headline last year was, “Darabont fires entire writing staff!” it sounded like I went in and slaughtered 12 people and threw their bodies in the dumpster. And that isn’t the case at all. There are two writers I didn’t invite back from last year for reasons I needn’t go into. But no, we put together a really good, solid regular staff this year and they’re doing inspired work. The only sense that it’s non-traditional is in the sense that I’m encouraging these guys, guys and gal to really color outside the lines and swing for the fences and not just sort of hit the marks of television writing but to try and do something really unique and different. And they’re really rising to that challenge.

5:10 How will the characters develop this season?

5:45 How long will the series run? Can you see it in a fourth or fifth season?

Hurd: “When you consider that Robert Kirkman has over eighty issues of his comic book and he’s still going strong and won the Eisner Award last summer.”

Darabont: “And also, given that we’re expanding the video instead of collapsing it as we go, oh yeah.”

6:15 Will this series lead to more horror on TV? Darabont discusses his displeasure with DirecTV’s classification of the show as science fiction.

Gale_Ann_Hurd6:50 Darabont muses on how he has been able to break out of the “horror ghetto” and make mainstream Hollywood films and grungy horror films at the same time.

Darabont: “I’m a lucky son of a bitch, I guess. I love both. I really love both.”

7:35 Discussion of the character of Glenn and how he will evolve in the coming season. Glenn’s girlfriend will appear at some point this season. Darabont confirms that Michonne will appear in season three (if they get picked up again) but will not appear during season two.

Darabont: “I can officially tell you Michonne is coming in third season.”

Hurd: “If we get a third season. So everyone better watch season two.”

8:35 Hurd discusses Kill the Irishman, written and directed by her husband Jonathan Hensleigh and the possibility for future collaborations with him.

9:05 Darabont and Hurd name their favorite characters. Darabont teases Andrea’s arc for season two, discuss his displeasure over having to kill off characters.

Hurd: “Andrea.”

Darabont: (overlapping) “I can see that.”

Hurd: Because people don’t expect that she is going to become the warrior that she becomes.

Darabont: Boy, is that a fun arc we’re doing this season. Oh my God. I love them all, I really care about them all and I really hate that we’ve killed some of them. I feel dirty when I do it.

GeorgePalMemorialAward_FrankDarabont_ThomasJane_37thAnnualSaturnAwards_PhotoBy_M4PR.com10:45 Darabont discusses his future as a theatrical horror director.

Darabont: “Oh, gosh! Yeah, I’d love to! I don’t have anything specifically planned; one spends one’s life looking for good material, hoping for good material and then you spend the other half of your life hoping someone will say yes to it when you find it.”

11:20 Have standards and practices ever said no to any of the show’s gore?

11:40 Discussion of the opening scene in season one where they killed a little girl zombie and how it became a sort of mission statement for the show.

Hurd: “We kill a zombie girl, a kid.

Q: in the very first scene.

Darabont: “The mission statement of the show is like that first scene.

Hurd: “Right there up front.”

Darabont: “When I say mission statement, it wasn’t purpose built for that reason. I just, you know, thought it was a really cool scene to pull us into that world in a teaser. But it became that in a sense. When we were cutting the show together I turned to Gale and I said, “Wow, look, we kill a seven-year old in the first scene.” It is kind of our mission statement, isn’t it? It kinda really sets the tone and clues the audience in, if you don’t dig this kinda stuff, you really should just tune out now. But if you do think this is intriguing, then stick around.”

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