The Walking Dead is one of the most watched and beloved shows on TV, and fans can look forward to getting their fill when it returns for a fourth season this October 13th. Following their Hall H panel Scott Gimple, David Morissey, and Robert Kirkman spoke to the press about what we can expect from the upcoming season. During the interview they discussed the Governor’s mental state, a mysterious new threat facing the survivors, killing off fan favorites, and integrating new characters. Gimple also talked about stepping up as show runner, bringing Tyreese to the forefront, and how faithfully he’ll be adopting the graphic novels. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
I saw the season 4 trailer and I thought it looked fantastic, as a fan of the comic book series I noticed that there are a lot of elements that are coming up.
SCOTT GIMPLE: Oh, you’re already picking up on that.
It seems like you’re kind of adapting Robert Kirkman’s material a little more closely than the previous show runners.
GIMPLE: We’re at a point nowhere it has to change. We have characters that are not alive that are alive in the book. We have characters that never appeared in the book. We have a lot of events that didn’t quite happen the same way in the book. But there’s so much in the book, stuff we’ve passed in the timeline that I really thought was awesome, that I really wanted to get to. And what’s terrific – I’m not going to point out the stuff in the teaser that you might be able to see, but it’s using big moments from the comic in different ways, with different characters, with different context. And it’s actually a lot of fun to fulfill our theme, fulfill our characters using those moments in different ways. I know the fans will completely recognize them.
Obviously the governor is missing from the trailer without saying anything specific about when you do return, where do you feel the governor’s mindset is at as of the end of season 3 when things have really fallen apart?
DAVID MORISSEY: Well you got a little glimpse of him just before he drove away with the two guys. He’s in a deeply traumatic place. That’s where he is. I think he has issues, he’s psychopathic and stuff, but I don’t think he does those things without consequence to his soul. He does them and they take a toll on him. He has to carry that burden. A great for me and the season coming up was the great complex things for me to do and I’m relishing it. I’m loving it. I think it’s very surprising. I think people are going to be very surprised by what they came up with. It’s a joy to play. But it’s important to say that all these actions take a toll on I’m. He doesn’t wash them off lightly. He carries that with him.
He slaughtered his own people and when he gets in that truck he’s not grinning, he’s not smiling or laughing. He has no mustache to twirl. It looks like he just may have gotten astray of himself.
MORRISEY: And that line that he says at the end, “you kill or you die” that’s his thing. That’s his mantra. That’s what he lives by and I think he also uses that for a little slight excuse for how he’s working within this world. You look at any war zone and you talk to any soldiers and they have to blank out – in order for that to work for them, in order for them to survive they have to blank out something in themselves in order to do it. I think with the governor you’re seeing somebody who’s blanked out quite a lot about himself. And this battle inside of himself is who is that person?
GIMPLE: And he does have that public face and he has a very surprising private face and when he kills people, that’s a big public act, so those two sides get integrated. So who is he? And who is he going to be moving forward?
MORISSEY: And he asks those questions of himself. That’s not just for the audience to ask, those questions are being asked right inside of him.
I want to know what you’re most excited for that’s coming up?
GIMPLE: Well aside from the eventual and mysterious unspecified return of the governor, I think for me something that I’m really excited for in season four and something that you see a little of in that trailer is Tyreese stepping up as a character and taking a more central role. We didn’t get a lot of time with him in season three just because of everything else that was going on, but now with season four we’re able to bring him to the forefront and integrate him into the core cast in a bigger way. And we’re doing a lot with him. I think that Chad Coleman has proven that he’s got very broad shoulders that can carry the weight of everything we’re asking him to do. I’m really excited for people to see what we do with his character and where we take him this season, because I think it’s going to be really awesome.
GIMPLE: Well, you know, it’s eventually coming for everybody.
ROBERT KIRKMAN: But it’s never mindless.
GIMPLE: You’re never going to expect it.
Can you talk a little bit more about that, just the dynamic of offing characters that are beloved and just balancing what you want the audience to see with telling the story?
MORISSEY: If people didn’t die you’d start not believing in the world. The world is about that and I think some of the frisson that the show has with the audience is that no one is safe and it’s very true to the world. One of the great things about the show is that it works through logic. Its asking logical questions about survival in this world and one of the logical conclusions is that people are going to die, and the people you love are going to die. We work from that logic all the time. I think if we didn’t have that the show would cease to have the magic that it has because that’s what’s true to this world.
GIMPLE: Those are the stakes that are constantly there and how do those stakes change you? How does that change the person you are? If it does just turn out to be about survival then is that living? How does that make you, you? How does that change your identity? That picture of the governor, his wife, and his daughter, he wasn’t that guy before this all started. People dying around him changed him into that.
MORISSEY: Also what I love about this show is it’s not the Star Trek show where they beam down to the planet and you’ve got four guys but you already know that one guy – you think, “I don’t think he’s going to be that safe on this planet. That guy in the red? He’s not coming back on the ship.” In our show you love people and you still don’t know what’s going to happen to them and last season was a prime example.
GIMPLE: I will say one other thing. It is horrible to sit in front of the keyboard and write those scenes because you’re losing too. You lose somebody you enjoy working with. You lose somebody you’ve possibly known for years and on top of that you lose a character that you love seeing on TV so I think that kind of makes it cool that we pay a price too. That it is painful on many levels and its amazing to be writing that moment and crossing that line right on the page and seeing the ugliness of it and having to deal with it. It’s a very weird thing.
With this influx of new character, how do you balance introducing all these people while still focusing on the main cast?
GIMPLE: Well luckily they all effect on another. They aren’t all solitary off on their own so that certainly helps because the characters involve each other. We have a new character who’s coming on, Bob Stookey. Some major stuff goes down and both puts him in opposition to some characters and gets him closer to some characters. It’s funny, we have a character we haven’t talked much about, this character Zack, played by Kyle Gallner. He was in Veronica Mars and Jennifer’s Body. He has a romantic relationship with one of the characters and that’s the way that you get to know him very quickly. He’s not one of our major new characters, but you get to know a lot about him real quick.
KIRKMAN: Excellent addition to the overall ensemble. He adds a lot to the mix. I think that’s what it really is at its core; it’s adding in new blood in a way that it changes the dynamic of the overall group and also keeps the show evolving everything is evolving in this show. The characters are evolving, the cast is evolving, the setting is evolving and you want to be able to weave things in in really cool ways that move things forward and having new people coming in with new experiences in the world and being able to say, “Oh, well actually I experienced this somewhere, so I know we can do this,” and bring in experiences to this cast. It helps everything move forward.
Last season it was introduced that humans are as big of a threat as the zombies. So going into this season, are those still going to be the main threats or will there be new threats introduced?
GIMPLE: There is a new threat introduced and it’s something that’s a force that you can’t just stab in the face. You can’t talk reason.
KIRKMAN: Possibly the most deadly threat that they’ve faced thus far. We’re ramping things up and intensifying things in season four in that they’re still going to be dealing with zombies, they’re still very much a threat. There still going to be dealing with humans, that’s still very much a threat, but there’s this new element thrown in. this new force that is going to be extremely dangerous and possibly more dangerous than anything they’ve faced thus far.
GIMPLE: It would be an enemy in this world. In that world it’s terrifying.
Scott, what has been the biggest challenge since you took over as show runner? Did you find it very different from being an executive producer? Is there anything you weren’t prepared for or that surprised you?
GIMPLE: I think ultimately it’s just time management. You’re just doing a lot more stuff. You’re doing the same stuff, you’re writing and you’re producing, but it just comes with a lot of other things. A lot of long term thinking and plotting things out for the future, bringing elements together. I have a lot of support. I have a great set of executive producers helping me out. I have a great cast and crew. AMC has been fantastic. I’d say it’s everything I was doing before, just eighteen other jobs. I love it. There’s a lot of unexpected things. Wonderful things, tough things, but there’s always somebody just ready to pitch in. That’s probably the heaviest thing, the constant amount of support because it makes you just want to do even better. It makes you want to do stuff for the fans, makes you want to do stuff for the people on the show. I love it.
Robert, you’ve talked a bit about how you’re enjoying getting a second shot at some of the characters and situations. Specific to the governor since his story has already gotten deeper than it did in the comics, what was so appealing to you about that? How much did you feel like you had left unsaid when you finished his story in the comics?
KIRKMAN: I think with the governor, in particular if you were reading that comic book series from day one, by the time you get to issue twenty-seven when the governor’s introduced it’s kind of an atomic bomb that is dropped on the story. I feel like a lot of readers didn’t really anticipate that we were going to start going in that direction and it certainly caught people off guard. It was just a really fun level to get to after doing to the book for the two years that we had been doing it. It was a lot of fun in season 2 of the show and you would do interviews people would be like, “Now, where is it going to go from here? Are they going to be fighting zombies in season seven? I don’t really see what you guys are building towards.” And just always knowing. And for me getting to do it again in cool new ways, but also do it to a wider audience. I look at the stuff I did in hindsight and come at it from different angles. It’s a lot of fun. It’s really rewarding.
MORISSEY: Also the life that the governor had in the novels as well that Robert wrote, The Rise of the Governor and The Road to Woodbury are two fantastic books, they’re not comics they’re great novels. When I came on to the show and talked to Robert there was that element of bringing that into it. There’s the comic book governor, but who was he before?