On February 12th, the hit zombie series The Walking Dead returns to AMC. Picking up just where the last episode and big reveal left off, that huge event rocks all of the characters to their core, leading some of them down surprising paths in the last six episodes of Season 2. As some characters get closer, divisions arise and the gang will have to face a new human threat that’s as scary as the ever-present zombies.
While at the TCA Winter Press Tour, co-stars Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus and Steven Yeun talked about the aftermath of what happened at the barn, how difficult it was to lose a cast member that they thought of as family, that the second half of the season will have a lot more action, the challenge of working in 120 degrees with bugs and zombie guts while wearing the same clothes they’ve had on for three weeks, and how they worry about each script being their last, with the constant danger that their characters are in. Check out what they had to say after the jump, and be aware that there are some spoilers.
[SPOILER WARNING: The following interview may contain spoilers.]
Norman Reedus: That took a lot of time to shoot. When we come back, we pick up where that left off. It sucked to lose Madison [Lintz]. We really liked her. She was part of our family. We also go in different directions, after that. It’s so devastating. Shane (Jon Bernthal) built that up to a huge point that he tried to make, and it just went horribly wrong. Hershel (Scott Wilson) saw his whole family, who he thought was sick and that he could resurrect, so to speak, massacred in front of his face. Carol (McBride) saw her daughter as a zombie. A lot went down, in so many different directions. It just exploded us off, in all different ways.
Melissa McBride: There will be divisions among the group.
Reedus: There’s a lot to talk about.
McBride: They will be re-thinking and re-evaluating everybody, for themselves and each other.
Melissa, what was your reaction to reading the script for that episode?
McBride: My initial reaction was, “No, they did it,” because I had heard this might happen, and I was upset to see that Madison [Lintz] wouldn’t be returning. She’s so fun to work with. She’s so professional.
Reedus: It does continue. Damaged people gravitate towards damaged people. Carol and Daryl are a lot alike, in that we were abused and put down for so long. Now that those elements have left us, whether we wanted them to or not, there’s something kindred that we see in each other. We look after each other.
McBride: There is a little division that comes between the two of them, too, because of what’s happened. Carol’s reaction is to remember Sophia the way she was and move forward. In her heart, she’s come to terms with the fact that she’s not going to see Sophia again. But, it’s different for Daryl. He pulls away a little bit, to do what he needs to do, and I just don’t want him to go far. I’m concerned with him and I’m looking out for him now. Carol can’t drive by a stray she doesn’t pick up, and Daryl’s got nobody.
Reedus: Yeah, we look after each other, a little bit. Everyone’s having love affairs and impregnating each other, so what else are we going to do?
McBride: After this whole barn thing happens, there’s a lot of divisiveness and re-evaluating.
Was the first half of the season more relaxing to shoot because it was more about build-up?
Steven Yeun: I think each episode is pretty damn grueling.
Reedus: There’s more talk in the first half than the second half of the season, and more action in the second.
Yeun: But then, it levels itself out because the talk that we do have in the second half is so intense.
Reedus: And, it’s hardly ever casual conversation. Even the conversation is exhausting.
Yeun: There’s no easier day.
Reedus: Yeah, Sunday is the easier day.
Reedus: And, it’s 120 degrees outside, there’s bugs all over you, and you get scratches and bruises that become a character on the show. But, we couldn’t shoot the show in Los Angeles or Toronto, or wherever.
McBride: There’s so much that’s going to be happening in the second part of the season. It just never stops. It’s very intense. What a great crew we have, too.
Yeun: Yeah, we complain about how hard it is for us.
McBride: After we wrap, they’re still there.
REEDUS: We were delirious and cross-eyed, on the last day of the season.
McBride: We were literally cross-eyed.
Yeun: And then, people went out and hung out more, afterwards.
McBride: It was a wrap party, at 10:30 am. That was an amazing night. What a great finale that’s going to be.
Yeun: And, of all scenes to end our show on, that was one scene that was just simple.
McBride: The final scene that we shot, which was not the final scene of the episode, but our last shot, was in the house, and everybody was standing up, propped up against something, so that they didn’t just fall asleep.
Reedus: I stole my crossbow and took it back to New York. It’s on my son’s wall.
You guys have a lot of really intense scenes, and you don’t get a lot of clothing changes, you’re dirty and you have zombie guts all over you. What are some of the challenges, in actually doing this show?
Reedus: Well, I actually get very upset, if anybody on our cast has more dirt or blood on them than I do. Daryl lives in the woods. That’s where he comes from. He’s a hunter and tracker. He takes care of himself. When we got to the CDC last year, everyone went for showers and Daryl just went for whiskey. It’s actually a part of our show. You’re out there, it’s 120 degrees, you’re sweating, you’re scratched up, and there are bugs. I don’t think we could shoot this in Burbank. It actually works for us, as characters.
McBride: The bugs are horrible.
Yeun: Everything is good for us. I think the challenges are actually the things that help us. The challenges are doing the simpler scenes, where it’s like, “Hey, stand out here and look miserable,” and I’m like, “Okay, it’s 120 degrees and I’m wearing the same clothes that I’ve worn for the last three weeks,” so that’s easy. But if it’s like, “Look pleasant,” that’s pretty tough. You pick your poison, I suppose.
Steven, did you enjoy getting to have a romance this season?
Yeun: Yeah, absolutely. That was fun. What was really cool about it was that Lauren Cohan is awesome. Life and art go hand in hand. As she and I got to know each other, the characters also got to know each other, so it really just followed suit. That was really interesting. When you take a step back from it, you’re like, “Oh, crap, we don’t really know each other that well, so this scene fits perfect. Oh, now we know each other very well, so this scene fits perfect.” It was really fun.
At the end of Episode 208, there’s a really chilling moment between Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the two guys that come into the bar. How will that event change him?
Yeun: I think that’s definitely a moment where it’s an experience that Glenn goes through for himself, which is that some people that you think are right all the time, are not always right all the time, or people that you think are wrong, are sometimes right. It’s just the ability for him to come to the realization that he needs to make his own decisions. Those are the only things that you can live by, in these situations.
Do you think that will change Glenn’s perception of Rick?
Yeun: I think it will definitely have him rely less on other people, and more so on himself. That fits with how he would perceive Rick, as well.
How was the experience of doing 13 episodes this season, as opposed to doing six episodes last season?
Reedus: It was great. We got to tell more stories. We got to get into characters more. Six was about setting up the world, especially the first episode. We got to learn more about our characters and each other. It was more of a commitment. I came in on the third episode of the first season, so I basically walked in, said hi and threw squirrels, right in the first hour. But, it was nice. We all got closer, and it was awesome.
Was Daryl always designed to become a regular role?
Reedus: No, it was not. It was actually Frank [Darabont] who wrote the part for the show. He created that part ‘cause he’s not in the comic book. I don’t know. I think I was a little bit of an experiment, at first. I’m not sure. I’m glad it’s going well and I’m still on there. It’s a lot of fun. It’s, by far, my most favorite job that I’ve ever been on.
Since there’s so much danger, do you guys ever worry that the next script you get could be your last?
Reedus: Every time, every week.
McBride: Oh yeah, absolutely. There’s going to be 16 episodes next season, instead of 13.
What can you say about where things will be going, during the second half of the season?
McBride: There are new characters introduced, and more people are going to die.
Do you each have a sense of how much the fans want each of your characters to stick around?
McBride: The fans are fantastic. They’re great.
Reedus: I literally have got three boxes of presents. My son’s room is nothing but Daryl Dixon paintings, dolls, lighters, tattoos and panties. It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s fun.
Do they overshadow The Boondock Saints fans?
Reedus: The Boondocks fans are pretty ferocious, as well. But, I get more Walking Dead stuff now. It’s a bonus for me. The same group of people like both things. It’s overwhelming, to be honest.
McBride: I love my Carol fans. They write the sweetest notes and tell me that Carol inspires them, of all things. Isn’t that nice? That’s nice. They say, “If she can survive a post-apocalypse, I can survive this or that.” They relate to her. It’s nice.
Reedus: Yeah, you’ll see him. He’ll come back, eventually, and he’ll probably be super-pissed. That’s going to be interesting. Is blood thicker than these new bonds he’s made? There’s going to be a lot of confrontation going on, for sure.
Melissa, is Carol going to find her inner-strength, after all she’s been through?
McBride: Yeah. She’s dealt with things by herself, for a long, long time, before this apocalypse ever happened. I think that’s just how she deals. She has to come to terms with things inside of herself because she can’t communicate with the people around her. They’re just uncommunicative. So, she comes to terms with it in herself, and she just goes on. She deals with it the way she deals with it. She’s going to find that she’s taking care of herself more.
Are you surprised with how much strength she’s had, over the course of the series?
McBride: I’m not surprised by it because I know that women in those circumstances, who have endured that kind of abuse, have great strengths that we just don’t see. They have to, in order to survive it. Whether or not they have the courage to leave an abusive relationship is beside the point. There’s something in there that keeps them upright. Now that Ed is gone, we’re just going to see more of that inner strength manifest. That’s what I hope for her. I don’t know what the writers are going to do with her.