With The Walking Dead returning for the remainder of its third season, the Academy of Television hosted an evening to celebrate the cast and creative team, and the huge success of the popular drama series, while giving a glimpse into what fans can expect as the story continues. Collider was there to cover and attend the event, and we’ve compiled the highlights of what the cast had to say during the Q&A.
During the discussion, the actors talked about how difficult it is to constantly lose actors on the show, how comfort is the most dangerous thing for these people in this world, that the humans in this world are scarier than the zombies, their favorite moments this season, which character they would love to resurrect from the dead, whether Rick (Andrew Lincoln) will have another breakdown, Andrea’s (Laurie Holden) bad choices in men, what Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) might do without each other, what might develop between Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride), the Governor’s (David Morrissey) state of mind now, where Michonne’s (Danai Gurira) loyalty lies, and what they’re looking forward to in the remaining episodes this season. Check out what they had to say after the jump.
ANDREW LINCOLN: I was in a great deal of distress, but there was a method to the rampage. I was trying to find the scene of the crime. I wanted to kick their asses, but the net result was that I just wanted to see evidence. I looked in my son’s eyes and that gave me what I knew. But, I think there’s something incredibly pragmatic about Rick, and it’s possibly why he’s such a good leader. But, he was in denial, which is one of the qualities of grief. I wanted to show as many of those, in the aftermath, as I could.
How difficult is it to constantly be losing actors on this show, and never know when your character will be the next to go?
LINCOLN: The downside to the show is that we lose incredible actors and incredible characters. But, I do think it probably will be one of the enduring strengths of the show. It keeps reinventing itself. The group dynamic changes. It feels like we are a moving target. You root for the characters. I think that’s why people watch it in groups. You want people to survive, and when they don’t, it’s heart-wrenching. I remember the day we had to do that scene [where Rick realizes Lori is gone], and I took my contacts out. Whenever I have to do an emotional scene, I just take my contacts out and it means I can’t see. It was just agony, and the whole crew felt it. When Maggie came out with the baby, it was a real baby. The mother was there, as well. There were a couple of takes when it went a bit dark and I was screaming at a baby, and then I had to apologize at the end.
How broken do you think Rick is, at this point? Will that hole be there, forever?
LINCOLN: Well, yeah. When you lose someone that close to you, it changes you, irrevocably. Rick is one of these people who punishes himself. He blames himself, continually. It degrades him. It’s beautiful being able to play a guy that starts in one place, and then changes completely. I think it’s an incredibly ambitious and bold thing for AMC to do, to have a principal character who is not the same guy that you met in the first episode. And I think all of the characters do that. That’s one of the most compelling things, this season and last season. You see these people change.
Laurie, do you think Andrea sees that dark side in men like Shane and the Governor, or does she just see strong companions?
LAURIE HOLDEN: I don’t think she sees the dark side, at all. You have to understand that Andrea doesn’t know and isn’t privy to what the audience knows. All she knows is that, at the beginning of the season, she was out in the wild for seven months, living in the woods, and they come across this beautiful town and she’s able to breathe and hope and dream. She thought those days were over. It’s not like she chose he Governor over Michonne. She chose a life and a community. Is he charismatic and wonderful? Yes. So far, he hasn’t shown himself to be a brute. There are a lot of things that he’s done that she’s seen and can understand. The fact that he had a zombie daughter in his closet? Well, I sat next to my dead sister for two days, waiting for her to change. So, the rules have changed. I think Andrea is an alpha female and she’s drawn to strong men. Whether they happen to be crazy or not is the unfortunate part of the mix.
Is comfort one of the most dangerous things that you can have?
HOLDEN: Yeah. There’s an expression that, if it’s too good to be true, it is. That’s Woodbury. After she lost her sister and her family, it was too good to be true. But, she drank the Kool Aid. She saw pregnant women walking around with no fear. She saw people walking dogs. She saw these beautiful elderly people planting their gardens. She was like, “Are you kidding me?! It’s the end of the world, and look at what this man has created. Sign me up! I want to be a part of this.”
David, in the comic book, the Governor is evil, right off the bat, but you’ve really gotten the opportunity to humanize him. What’s going on in this character’s head, up until the mid-season finale?
DAVID MORRISSEY: The starting point for the Governor was Robert Kirkman’s book, The Rise of the Governor, which is a fantastic novel. That’s his backstory, right there. That’s who the man is. And we wanted to bring more of that character into the first half of the season, so it’s more about who he is and his complexity. In the comic book, he’s quite evil, right off the bat. So, it was about giving him some humanity and something to fight for. That thing with his daughter was very understandable. Everybody in this world has lost someone that they care about. Hershel had a barn full of people that he cared about. It’s not out of the norm to want to have some of that past, and to be close to someone, even though they’ve turned. I think everybody in this world has that.
MORRISSEY: Well, it’s weird, but it’s a bit like watching a bunch of TV screens at once. He’s seeing the enemy and he knows that, if those heads are in the tanks and he’s watching it, he’s alive. He’s using it as fuel. If they’re dead, he’s alive. That’s the bottom line. You have to dehumanize the enemy. Even if they’re the undead, you have to be looking at them and confronting them and know that you’re better than them ‘cause you have to go out and fight them. You have to know that you’re better than your enemy and that you can beat them.
Was the loss of his daughter, his humanity dying?
MORRISSEY: That’s what the second half of the season will explore. He’s in quite a dark place. He’s angry at the world. He’s closing down. But, there are people around him, like Andrea and Milton, who can maybe rescue his humanity and remind him of the things from his past. That will be the fight, going forward.
Norman, what’s it been like to have Daryl go from an obnoxious redneck to a valued member of the group?
NORMAN REEDUS: The thing about it is that he’s becoming this new man. He was destined to become mini-Merle, so having people rely on him has given him this sense of self-worth that he would never have had before.
With the situation with Merle, where do Daryl’s loyalties lie now?
REEDUS: When you get those two brothers together, little brother turns into little brother and does what big brother says. He fights that. That’s his own little personal battle. And Rick is like the brother that Merle wasn’t. There’s definitely some conflict. He’s like your drunk uncle at a Christmas party. He’s still Merle.
DANAI GURIRA: It’s been great! It’s such an amazing cast and crew to join, and I was so wonderfully enveloped into this group and indoctrinated by my bestie [Laurie Holden], both on and off the screen. It’s been amazing! The level of physical and emotional work has been beautifully intense, and there is a direness to the set, being down in the midst of Georgia’s heat and bugs, and beauty and glory. It’s been really great! There’s something really gratifying and refreshing about it. Sometimes you have to do work where you have to get really glammy. It’s really great that this show says, “Forget all that and just tell the story.” The last thing any of these characters is thinking about is how they look. There’s something refreshing about just going out there and having more dirt sprayed on you than the outside actually gives you naturally. You just go for it. I actually relish that.
Michonne definitely has emotional armor. Do you think she has a breaking point, or is she just way past that?
GURIRA: I think that the end of Episode 8 had some breaking points happen for her. There’s the loss of Andrea, that she feels with her in the Governor’s cave. She feels that she has really lost Andrea, and that Andrea has chosen someone else over her. That really leads her to submit to Rick and offer herself to him, at the end of the episode. Not fully offer herself to him. That came out wrong. Spoiler alert! But, she’s really saying, “Let me be a part of the group,” at the end of that episode. She recognizes that she needs community. To actually get to that point, for her, really is a breaking point. It’s saying, “I could go out and get two more pets and wander off on my lone road again, but I’m choosing to actually become a part of a community.”
STEVEN YEUN: Playing Glenn has been really fun because he’s such a changing character, due to the circumstances. When you find Glenn and he balks at the chance to be with Maggie, it comes from a very selfish place. He’s a very headstrong person and he thinks that he always knows, in his gut, what’s right and he goes by his gut. But, he forgets that he’s a kid still, and he’s still figuring stuff out while he goes. Then, this happens and it’s an amazing thing, and he’s confronted with a whole other bag of poo poo.
That scene you have with the zombie, alone in that room, at the end of the last episode, was a bad-ass cinematic moment in the show. What was that like to do?
YEUN: For me, as an actor, it was a turning point. And for Glenn, as a character, that was a turning point. What was cool was that that scream wasn’t scripted. It just came out at the end, and they continued to film it. It’s cool to see that the writers, producers, directors and crew are all there to support you, and you feel completely free. As an actor, I felt like I could do no wrong, in that moment. Hopefully, that was conveyed. For Glenn, as a character, he has everything stripped away and it’s down to bare bones survival, and not just for him, but also for the person he loves, who was right next door. So, what do you do? You Hulk smash!
Lauren, we’ve seen the Governor kill people, but what he did to control Maggie was almost worse. What was going on with her, at that point?
LAUREN COHAN: It’s interesting because it’s something you’d expect might happen in this world, with these kinds of characters taking power and taking control. It’s just such a warped thing. The Governor needs to know so badly where this group is. He’s playing with people that are such a diminished group, having them in separate rooms and inflicting all this torture. Maggie and Glenn will both do whatever it takes, for at least one of them to survive. When she reveals the whereabouts of the group, it’s a very dangerous move to say where we are, even if it is just for saving Glenn. We all need each other. At that moment, she knows that the group is not as strong without the two of them. But, Maggie has had a pretty tough run, in the first half of the season. It’s been an extremely emotional first half, and it’s been extremely heart-wrenching to lose the people that we’ve lost. I’m probably biased, but I really think that the way we’re pushing boundaries is so interesting and so surprising to see on television. So, I’m glad that, as terrifying as it is, it is doing justice to what really would happen at the end of the world. It’s keeping it real.
MORRISSEY: You find out that your own capabilities in this world are different. You get challenged, as a person. Who would you choose? Who would you save? Who are your friends? This world challenges your own perceptions of your goodness. What would you do? We like to think of ourselves as heroic, but when the chips come down, you might be running the other way or stepping on your friend to get out of there. You don’t know. This world is asking those questions of these people, all the time. It’s about survival, and what’s going to help you survive the longest. You want to have humanity and you want everyone to live together and be happy, but you also want to get through the day and be alive at the end of the day. I don’t think we have to look too far, in our world, to see people making those changes, right here and right now. It is a war zone that these people live in. Those choices are being made out here, all the time.
If you could give one of your fellow actors an Emmy for a moment in Season 3, who would you choose?
HOLDEN: Andrew Lincoln in the courtyard, when he knows that his wife is dead. Hands down. No offense to anyone else.
MORRISSEY: That’s a really tough question. I really thought Steven was amazing. There’s a sense of seeing a man tortured that we’ve seen many, many times in films and on TV, but he brought something different to that because his character changed, in that moment. You see a man formed, in that moment. I thought that was brilliant. But, there are so many that I could choose from. The show is full of them.
What is your favorite moment this season?
GURIRA: There are so many. I think Steven’s scene was really powerful. I also love the scene between Maggie and the Governor. It just really touches into that war zone aspect of what happens to a woman, and what can happen to a woman’s body and her vulnerability during a time when the rules are gone. That really touches into that war zone element that makes the TV show so powerful. It’s about who you become. And what does a woman become, and what does she have to endure?
LINCOLN: I love all of the scenes. It’s difficult because I don’t watch the show, so it’s quite hard for me to talk about the scenes. I like Girls.
LINCOLN: Yeah. I love the show! I love reading every script that comes out, and I love the story of these characters, but I just don’t enjoy watching myself. It’s like a spell. You do a spell, and I just don’t want to get involved with it.
If there was one character you could resurrect from the dead, who would it be?
YEUN: I love all of them, but for me, hands down, it would be Jeff [DeMunn], who played Dale.
HOLDEN: Jeff has a way of teaching you something, just with a look. He’s so wise.
YEUN: From a character standpoint, that’s Glenn’s sage. When we were doing the first and second season, we lived in the same area, so I was a fly on the wall for every Jeff DeMunn wise saying that he would put out. I’d be like, “Oh, I have to write that down!” I remember doing that scene with Laurie at the RV, in the second season, and in my head, I was like, “Oh, I hope I can really get to that place to feel the emotion that Dale is gone.” I never have an easy time acting, but that was easy.
HOLDEN: We literally just had to show up. We had so much love for the actor and for the character that all we had to do was look at the RV. He was Glenn’s sage, but he was the man who taught me the most. We just breathed and it was like we were honoring Dale.
How great has Melissa McBride been to work with?
LINCOLN: I think Melissa [McBride], in the back eight episodes, has the line of the series. She has a scene with Michael Rooker that’s just the greatest. She’s amazing!
There’s always almost something between Daryl and Carol, don’t you think?
REEDUS: There’s a lot. It’s just not that, yet. I’m very lucky that I’ve had a lot of scenes with Melissa. She’s so good. I started off my relationship with her, in the third episode of the first season, when she takes the pickaxe and hits her husband in the head with it. And I kept telling the special effects guys, “Put more junk on the axe. Make it bloodier.” So, every take, it was worse. And we started this little friendship. But, I like the fact that these two damaged people have gravitated toward each other, for that reason. If there’s a little kissy-kissy thing to come, I want to play that with no game, at all. I want her to make the move, and I want to just whimper. In the little town we film in, we’d go play pool. She’s just sit there all sweet, and then school me. She’s got some cards up her sleeve.
COHAN: Definitely the scene with Scott, when we think Hershel is gonna go, and not just because he has a deviated septum. Scott has a really, really charming thing where his nose sounds like he’s snoring. You’re pouring your guts out and you think he’s asleep, but no. That was one of the more challenging scenes, just because I felt like I really poured my guts out and afterwards I was like, “Oh, man, I just cried in front of my crew!” All the discomfort that came with the scene that David and I had, really just fed the scene. I think it had to. It’s hard to pick because it’s all hard. My favorite scene was the moment of comedy that we had, which I felt was deserved, when Maggie and Glenn had the fun moment in the guard tower. The blessed levity!
How do you think Maggie and Glenn would do without each other, if you got separated or one of you was gone?
COHAN: It’s interesting. I think we’ve learned so much and strengthened so much from having each other. I know that my character has now been faced with things she probably never imagined, as all the characters have, actually. But, I think we’ve become a hell of a lot stronger. I don’t know if you’d have that one moment of, “Have you got the fight left in you?,” if you didn’t have someone.
YEUN: That’s a tough question. That drives a lot of the second half of the season. Just having Maggie, in Glenn’s eyes, be absolutely violated, how does he move forward from there? Where does his attention go towards? Is their trust broken? Is there rage? Is there actual intelligent thought in his head? And does that ruin relationships? The great dynamic between Maggie and Glenn is the fact that you don’t want to say they’re like Wonder Twins, where they’re always together and doing something together, but it’s definitely that one is strong when the other is weak, and vice versa. I think you saw glimpses of that, throughout the first half of the season. I love those two characters.
HOLDEN: Well, the sad thing about Andrea’s journey is that, after she lost Amy and when she lost Dale, she didn’t think that she would ever really find love again or have a family or feel that deeply. She’s been blessed because she found love with her best friend. But, the sad thing is that she really believed that she could have romantic love and that she could have the fairy tale, and it was a lie. That’s what’s unfolding. All the signs are there, that the Governor is not the man that she thought that he was.
How do you think Andrea would be, as a group leader?
HOLDEN: I feel, in many ways, she is. I think she’s doing the best that she can, under the given circumstances. You’re going to see, in the second half of the season, that she does rise to the occasion, to the best of her ability, and she does show the strength that people know and that Robert Kirkman created. That Andrea that everybody fell in love with in the comic books is back.
David, what do you see happening to the Governor, from here on out?
MORRISSEY: He bumps into a lot of things. That’s basically what happens. He gets angry all the time because he keeps banging into things. I think he’s full of anger and he’s closing down, and there’s a nihilistic attitude going on inside him. Is there enough of him to listen to the people with reason, like Andrea and Milton? Can they reason with him? These two communities seem to be on this collision course, but will there be diplomacy at play, as well? Who will win out? It’s about the good and bad inside, and which one will win that fight. It’s never clear. It’s a very muddy world that they’re about to get involved with. Everybody has to make compromised choices in this world, for their survival. It’s about how whether Merle decides to go on his own or with this community. It’s about whether Andrea takes up the reins as the leader of that community. It’s about whether the people will listen and who they’ll listen to. We’ve seen the community begging for blood, and he’s giving them what they want.
YEUN: I’m looking forward to seeing everyone continue to evolve. What I love about this show is that nobody is a perfect character. There’s no, “Oh, that’s that guy.” Everybody is like, “Oh, I thought he was like this,” and then he changes, but he realistically changes.
COHAN: I think this business with the Governor is decisive for the group. It’s going to be interesting to see how the good guys respond under pressure.
REEDUS: Everybody is so complex. All these characters start off one way, and then turn into another thing. Carl has turned into this monster of a warrior, who’s a bad-ass kid. And then, there’s lovey dovey things happening. There’s so much stuff going on. There’s not a weak link in our chain.
LINCOLN: Episode 12 is my favorite episode since the pilot, for so many reasons. I’m really looking forward to hearing the audience’s reaction to that.
GURIRA: It will be cool to see Michonne with this group. The way she does things get a little confusing to the people watching her, and that’s what she wants, but her actions have involved her showing her side. She does help Rick’s group get to people who had been abducted.
GURIRA: First of all, the guy calls himself the Governor. I didn’t vote! When was the election? I didn’t get an absentee ballot. Who does this guy think he is, and why do all these dudes follow him around like he’s Jesus? He’s not. I don’t see him walking on water or healing the blind. He can’t even heal his own eye!
David, is it fun to play the villain?
MORRISSEY: He’s not a villain. He’s a good guy!
Andrew, will Rick have another breakdown before the season is over?
LINCOLN: Yes. I don’t think he’s fully out of the woods yet. Funnily enough, this season was the only season I started having nightmares. I don’t know why.
When you go to such emotional depths on this show, how do you shake that off and go home?
LINCOLN: It’s easy. If you’re breaking down and crying and having a shattering experience, you get to get rid of it. It’s a catharsis. It’s great. I don’t subscribe to the idea that people should punish everyone else. If there’s a bad scene or a difficult scene, no one else should suffer. It’s your job to do it. And it’s a luxury. My acting teacher always said to celebrate, even if you’re pouring your guts out. You should enjoy it. It’s a joyous thing. That is why people have breakdowns in reality. They don’t get to exorcize that.
The Walking Dead returns with new episodes this Sunday night on AMC.