‘The Walking Dead’: From Gunshots to Gut-Shots, Go Behind the Scenes of Season 6

     February 15, 2016


*Consider this your strong spoiler warning if you’re not caught up on The Walking Dead.*

Hopefully you took that spoiler warning into account and have already watched AMC’s most epic midseason premiere of The Walking Dead. If not, you’re in for a world of hurt since we’re about to dive into some of that episode’s most shocking moments, the special effects that were employed to pull them off, and how the cast and crew reacted to the events of “No Way Out.”

Collected from the various interviews, behind-the-scenes specials, and looks ahead to the rest of Season 6, this catch-up on The Walking Dead features reactions from Andrew Lincoln and Robert Kirkman, as well as special effects insight from Greg Nicotero and Chandler Riggs. They also tease the way ahead for the Alexandrians, next week’s episode, and the eventual roadblock known as Negan.

First of all, you might be wondering how exactly they pulled off that scene in which Carl is shot through his dang eye. Sure, that’s easy to do in the two-dimensional pages of a comic book, but it’s a good thing Nicotero has a bit of experience in bringing gory trauma to life on television through special effects. In a crazy behind-the-scenes look over at THR, Nicotero and Carl himself, Chandler Riggs, revealed the making of that shocking scene.


Image via THR/AMC

Nicotero describes it as follows:

“That was one of the trickier aspects of the episode. We wanted to follow the graphic novel in terms of the extent of the injury because in the comics, Carl’s wound is very important in terms of how he moves forward. We did a head cast of Chandler and sculpted a dummy head of him with the wound incorporated into it.


“We used the graphic novel as reference but if you look at the wound in the comic, he would never survive that bullet hole. So we had to make sure it was something we believed Carl would be able to survive the impact of. It was as if the bullet hit that part of the skull that’s just above the cheekbone and ricocheted outward and sent bone fragments into his eye. When Rick picks up Carl and runs through the horde of zombies and into the infirmary, that was all with the dummy. That wasn’t Chandler.”

Riggs himself confirmed as much, even sharing a behind-the-scenes shot of his make-up over social media:

“When he was running through the field, that was the mannequin,” Riggs says with a laugh. “It was only a prosthetic over my eye when Rick was bringing Carl into infirmary. It was a prosthetic that took 30 minutes to apply and dress. It was a lot of fun for me but not for anyone else, I think!”

Comics creator Robert Kirkman weighed in on the scene as well during an interview with EW:

What’s it like to see these moments go from page to screen?


ROBERT KIRKMAN: It’s great. Seeing how it was directed and put together, everything turned out really well. It’s a moment that we’ve been building to and looking forward to for quite some time, and to see it actually happen and to see it actually come off so well — that moment where Carl gets shot in his eye was just awesome, and startling, and heartbreaking, and all those things in the comic. But seeing it move, and seeing Chandler’s performance and how it all came together was just extremely gratifying and was everything that I could’ve wanted it to be, and so I’m really excited when I feel that way because I kind of feel that the fans are going to feel the same way about it.


Image via AMC

In an interview with VarietyAndrew Lincoln talked at length about the emotionally draining and physically taxing midseason premiere. Of the many traumatic events that occurred in that hour, the conversation turned to Carl’s injury and how that will affect the father/son dynamic going forward:

Certainly if we’re going to echo the comics, which I hope we do, I think it marks a very interesting turning point in Rick and Carl’s relationship. If he makes it, which we hope he does, in the comic books he’s disfigured, and you know, he’s a teenage boy. He’s a boy and with one eye, he’s an uncompromising presence, and certainly it’s hard enough parenting an adolescent — so I hear — in the millennium, let alone a zombie apocalypse. It’s not going to be without its problems. I also dig, particularly, the relationship — which is almost a triangle — between Negan, Rick and Carl.


I think that’s a really interesting psychological battleground; the father figure and a parent that cares desperately about and would give his life for his son, sometimes can be smothering and not value the son enough or not listen to the son as a true leader in his own right. Whereas someone else may offer that, which is very interesting.


All of this ground is the stuff I’ve been waiting for, certainly in that relationship. I think it’s really interesting; it’s touching upon the same moral ambiguity of “The Grove” and episodes like that. I think we’re getting into muddy, deep and dark waters, and as an actor, for my taste, it really excites me, I’m really interested in that area. In short, I think it gets very complicated, very quickly.


Image via AMC

But of course, Carl survived, and so did the majority of the citizens of Alexandria. Lincoln talked about the effect of “No Way Out” on the rest of season six going:

It’s a massive watershed episode, and it marks a real change in Rick’s leadership and his feelings about Alexandria, the people within it, and also their future. It’s a huge, huge departure from where he’s been… The final moments of the episode can almost be day zero, it’s almost civilization begins from this point, for the first time. Because I think the key thing that’s been missing for so long is hope. It’s the first time that Rick, in spite of the trauma and the carnage, [Carl surviving] has given him his first feelings of hope since he was shot two years ago.

Now that we’ve taken a look at how the cast and crew prepared for the midseason premiere, let’s look ahead to the rest of Season 6. Continuing his chat with EW, Kirkman talked briefly about where our heroes would be heading after the successful defense of Alexandria, and just whom they might be running into:

So we meet the Saviors finally here now, and then they promptly get blown up. But we know that we’re going to see more of them, obviously, going forward and that will eventually lead to Negan. We saw that last Wolf guy die. Now that that guy’s gone, is it safe to assume we’re done with the Wolves now and we’re moving into a new chapter with the Saviors?


Kirkman: Yeah, W was the last of them, and we’re full steam ahead in the Saviors territory at this point. So, yeah, you know, those guys that blew up, definitely not the sum total of Negan’s crew, and we’ll definitely be seeing more of them moving forward. As to when, I can’t say, but very soon.

the-walking-dead-neganKirkman may not be willing to say more about Negan, Lincoln at least shared his thoughts about how the villain compares to other heroes and villain in the series:

How would you contrast Rick’s leadership style with Negan’s?


Lincoln: I can’t really go into great detail about that, but all I know is that from the comic books, he’s an incredibly funny, incredibly charming and lethal leader, and I know that we’ve got Jeffrey Dean Morgan who is all of those things, and … all I will say is, I think people will be very happy when they see his entrance.

What makes Negan different from other enemies they’ve faced in the past, like The Governor?


Lincoln: He’s unashamedly psychotic. [Laughs.] He’s unapologetic about his means, his ways of getting his points across and getting thing done. He’s absolutely unapologetic, I think that’s the closest I can answer that.

Specifically looking at next week’s episode, Kirkman teased that it will lighten things up a little bit after the traumatic events of the midseason premiere:

Looking ahead, big Daryl and Rick reunion road trip episode coming up next. What can you say about that?


Kirkman: I can say that it’s possibly the most fun episode that we’ve had, just seeing those two guys together. It’s almost like a Lethal Weapon episode. It’s a lot of fun.


Yeah, Scott told me that humor is “attempted.” He didn’t say successfully. He just said it’s attempted. Whether it lands or not is another question.


Kirkman: [Laughs] Yeah, I think that’s him being modest. It’s not a comedy episode, and it’s not some kind of out-of-the-box kind of thing. It’s definitely an episode of The Walking Dead. There’s some trauma involved and some tragedy, but seeing those two guys together is a lot of fun. It’s a very fun episode.

Check out a promo for next week’s episode “The Next World” along with a rather funny scene featuring Eugene (Josh McDermitt):

For more on The Walking Dead, be sure to check out some of our recent coverage below: