With the 90 minute Season 2 premiere just a few days away, we figured this would be the perfect time to share the most interesting piece from THE WALKING DEAD press kit we recently received. The stakes this Season are higher, the zombies are hungrier, and the blood is…uh….bloodier! After the way Season 1 ended, we’ve been waiting with baited breath for any and all incoming details about the new story lines and whether they’ll keep on track with Kirkman’s books. Will they find Hershel’s farm? What will happen to Shane? Will more dead people eat more living people? I suppose we’ll just have to wait a little bit longer to find out. Until then, check out the insight and commentary for Season 2 of THE WALKING DEAD below. Oh, and if you haven’t seen Season 1 or read the comic books, there may be a spoiler or two ahead! – Aaron P
Robert Kirkman says, “I’m really excited about being able to expand the world from having a six-episode season to a 13-episode season. We’re really opening things up to a huge degree and getting to do way more with the characters. It’s going to be huge. And it’s really cool to see these characters grow that much.” He adds, “We’re going to see rural roads and open fields and Hershel’s farm. It’s a completely different setting. We’ll see how bad things are as you get away from the city’s center. It is a lot more survival.”
“Last year was sort of an introduction to this world. It’s a big cut, and now we’re slicing it, opening, going inside of it,” says Jon Bernthal. “There’s gonna be some really, really tough decisions to make, and it’s going to be pretty sloppy and messy.”
Steven Yeun says “We’re seeing the group dynamic being shattered. We’re seeing people losing their minds because they’re losing things that are absolutely closest to them.”
By the end of episode two, Greg Nicotero and his team completed approximately 400 walkers.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF SHOW
“It’s like Deliverance on acid. It’s The Walton’s with Predator. It’s crazy, this show. It just constantly keeps surprising me,” admits Andrew Lincoln.
“The genius of the show is what do people do when they’re pressed to the limit? What happens when this happens to the world? And you think, ‘Would I be capable of that?’ And the answer is yes. That’s strange. So disturbing. It cuts right to the heart of things,” states director and cinematographer David Boyd.
Fellow director Gwyneth Horder-Payton adds, “What we found as we were going through the days was that the actors and directors are always trying to find what would be realistic in this situation. What is the reasonable choice to make here? And reasonable choices are not being made so much anymore. They’re getting caught where they’re making bad decisions and it was kind of fun to explore that.”
“Every line just lends to understanding a little bit more about each character; whoever’s saying the line, whomever the line is about. It’s just so rich and full,” describes Melissa McBride, who plays Carol.
“The Walking Dead is almost like a western. Our main characters are pioneers trying to survive in a strange new world, the rules of which they’re learning every single day. It’s a hostile environment and they’re trying to hold on to society. They’re trying to hold on to each other. They’re trying to hold on to any semblance of civilization in the middle of the wilderness and that’s what westerns are about,” notes director Ernest Dickerson.
Steven Yeun says, “There’s a pretty big level of defeat right after the CDC blows up. That was it – that’s where we were going to spend he rest of our lives. We were there for two days, and it’s done.”
“They free themselves of the city. And I think once they do that, it’s almost like a collective sigh,” says Lincoln. When asked if they are going to find salvation at the farm, Lincoln tilts his head, “It feels very much like an invasion. There is this safe haven that’s working perfectly well, and they seem to be getting on perfectly well without us. And we come in, and explode their world.”
Norman Reedus, who portrays the conflicted Daryl Dixon, adds, “There’s hope that there’s other people out there. We know there are other people out there, but other people that we can start over with.”
Boyd notes, “It unfolds beautifully, and there’s mystery there: Are these people good? Are they bad? What are they up to? They’ve got their own agenda, so here are two tribes who’ve come together and are helping each other but staying separate. They take care of themselves first, and then discover things about each other.”
Gale Anne Hurd admits, “It deviates from the comic book in the sense that Shane’s still around, it also gives us an opportunity to really explore what that means to each one of the characters.”
Adds Kirkman, “It’s really neat for me to treat The Walking Dead TV show as an alternate dimension where Shane lives, and there’s all this different stuff happening because of that, so I think it’s really cool to be able to go back to something you wrote a long time ago and look at it in a different light.”
“It feels like we’re sort of making the rules as we go along,” grins Lincoln. “I’ve never seen anything like this show, and that’s really exciting,” comments Lincoln. With regards to his character, he “wanted Rick to be less sure of himself. He’s starting to come unhinged. He shoulders all the responsibility, and takes blame for things that aren’t necessarily his fault.”
“Shane starts to really be disgusted by the weakness of these sort of pre-apocalypse emotions, like guilt, and blame and shame. He finds himself in a much more robotic state,” says Bernthal.
Sarah Wayne Callies believes, “Lori’s greatest challenge is probably just keeping her head above water. In the future, and by future, I mean the next two days, there are times when she just goes ‘I wish we’d all gone in the first wave. I wish Rick hadn’t woke up from the hospital.’ We’re exhausted, sick, deprived, and terrified. Are there doubts? Sure.”
Laurie Holden shares, “Andrea starts out as this bereft woman. The metamorphosis, the gradual change, is very organic. It doesn’t happen overnight. Andrea still carries a sadness, but she is also getting stronger.”
Earning the nickname Gandolf, Jeffrey DeMunn says of Dale, “There’s always hope. Hopelessness is not a state of mind my character goes to. It’s just a question of what are we going to do, how are we going to do it. He’s learning what his leadership role is within this group. People lead in certain ways, in different directions.”
“Glenn really hasn’t had much to live for. It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing a potential love interest for him,” notes Yeun. “He ended up being a fan favorite in the First Season, so we get to see a little bit of romance for this guy,” adds Kirkman.
Yeun continues, “There’s nothing to base the relationship on. As in the real world, how much money do you make? What is your job? Are you stylish? Are you a handsome person? All that’s been stripped away. Now it is purely ‘do you love this person? Are you going to live because of this person?’”
Chandler Riggs says his character Carl “is completely scared to death” in the beginning, and then “finds his switch.”
“You’re going to see more of Daryl figuring things out and taking charge,” mentions Reedus. “Making decisions for the group, instead of with them. I like angels that will shoot you in the back, and I like devils that’ll break down and cry. I like the contradiction.”
IronE Singleton explains, “If the Doctor at the CDC felt hopeless, why should [T-Dog] go on? But it’s innate to want to live to see another day.”
Melissa McBride says, “The whole first part of Season Two is really testing the faith and the hope of everybody with the things that happen. At what cost do we try to survive, and to what end?”
Madison Lintz, who plays Sophia, comments, “Her dad died in Season One, so she’s still shaken up. She’s worried that will happen to her mom too so she clings to her.”
In addition to the growth and separation of each character, the zombies now operate under a hive mentality. “It’s a swarm. They always had a degree of that. It seems now that – these clusters, these hives – they’re traveling around with one mind,” notes DeMunn.
Riggs says, “The first episode in the last season there was like, 50. But now, there’s hundreds.” Yeun adds, “They are mindless walking beings, but they somehow assembled themselves into a group. That raises the threat level ultimately because you’re going to have to deal with these. These hordes are going to be bigger and bigger.”
“Maybe I’m holding on to a way of thinking
that doesn’t make sense anymore.”
It takes approximately 8 days to shoot one episode of The Walking Dead. The days are long and grueling. Patience, skill and endurance are a must.
“I love playing Rick Grimes. For somebody that comes from a completely different city, country, culture; it’s one of the greatest gifts to be able to play someone like Rick,” But Lincoln admits it has its difficulties as well, “It’s a full physical workout, and an emotional workout. It’s one of the most intense jobs I’ve ever come across.”
“This season feels un-relentless, and I don’t mean the heat and the bugs,” confesses Callies. “Every character is changing. These are people who are fundamentally changing to their code. Some of this stuff is so big. We’re digging in as deep as we have ever dug. It’s a perverse kind of fun. This is the kind of work that you become an actor to do. I don’t think there are many times when you get an opportunity to sink your teeth so far into something.”
Bernthal adds, “What’s really cool about the making of this show is that every day is so unbelievably different.” An unpredictable Reedus chimes in, “I’m like an eight year old, running around with a crossbow, shooting zombies in the brain. It’s the coolest job ever.” Riggs says, “Last season I was not near zombies at all. And now, this season, with this herd of zombies coming through – it’s just crazy!” IronE Singleton reads every script hoping not to die, “I flip through to the end to see if I’m in the whole thing.”
With the bar set incredibly high, Nicotero explains, “The pace of episodic television is really fast and furious so you have to be prepared. Everything you potentially need at your disposal must be within five feet of you. While we were shooting, I was literally making intestine like Sushi. I was putting slime in the middle and rolling it. Everything had this really gross organic weight to it.” When Nicotero was told that it was grosser than what he had accomplished last year, he rejoiced, “That’s Good! That’s Great! I want it to be more disgusting and even more gut-wrenching than last year because that’s what the audience is going to expect.”
Kirkman agonizes over the scripts saying, “It’s always a strange process seeing these characters that I’ve known for years and years come to life and exist in flesh and blood and be people I can shake hands with. That’s kind of surreal. We lost a lot of people in Season One, and you never take that lightly. It’s very difficult to do. If they’re good characters, there are always more scenes to write, there’s always more things you could do with them. So it’s always a difficult decision, but this is the nature of things: There are zombies around. People gots to die.”
“Nostalgia’s a drug. Keeps us from seeing things the way they are.
And that’s the danger when people are depending on you.”
Production Designer Greg Melton (The Mist, The Majestic, Tales from the Crypt) and his team take the look from the city of Atlanta through the rural deep backwoods to Hershel’s farm, that he swears “is alive.”
Melton and his team also create a huge apocalyptic traffic jam scene on an actual interstate with abandoned, burnt-out cars, and several dead all about. Hurd describes it “as big, if not bigger, than anything we’ve had in the first season.”
With a sly grin, Yeun remarks, “We’re not doing something in front of green screen.”
The traffic jam is seen in the first couple of episodes. “It’s a major set piece. There were so many vignettes within the pileup. There were all these connected bits; people under the cars who had to see certain people under other cars. One scene took about 11 hours,” says Horder-Payton. “The actors were quite happy down there [under the cars]. You know that secure felling where you’re sort of inside and outside at the same time.”
Dickerson enjoyed the challenge of the traffic jammed highway, directing two episodes at once. “Artistically, it was better to keep it all together. Part of the day I would be shooting [scenes from one episode] and the other part of the day I would be shooting [scenes from the other episode].”
“I’m spending the night in a building that stinks so badly
of rotting bodies that I wanna vomit up my guts, dining on condiments,
and hoping I don’t get eaten by dead cannibal freaks before dawn.
What’s not to like?”
The first thing Nicotero did after watching the Premiere Season of The Walking Dead was write a list of do’s and don’ts for Season Two. “It’s all the little things that I noticed and thought, ‘we should change the color of the blood,’ for example. The human blood, when they treated the footage in post, got really bright looking. In the next season we should darken the blood a little bit so it won’t be quite as jarring,” recalls Nicotero.
Kirkman gloats, “Greg’s definitely taking things to the next level. This season’s zombies are the best zombies you’ve ever seen because of what Greg and KNB are doing next. It’s really cool.” He adds, “There’s definitely some memorable comic book zombies here and there, but a lot of this stuff is just Greg going, ‘OK, what can you do to the human body?’”
Nicotero continues, “We had 20 new sets of contact lenses made that are even more extreme than last year. You’re supposed to get the idea that as time progresses, the eyes continue to cataract over. I was literally looking at photos of rotted eggs, that kind of yellowish-brown with little red veins in it. I was trying to find the most revolting visual rotten egg for an eye. And that’s what we ended up doing.”
“Even with the teeth, we took molds we had for skulls and made latex teeth that we could glue on the outside of stunt performers and extras faces so they didn’t have to be customs dentures that went into their mouths, but was glued to the outside of their lips and then prosthetics would cover the edges,” adds Nicotero. “It gave us a lot more of that skull-like look.” “Every zombie that comes out of the trailer is worthy of a close-up, which makes me really proud,” a humble Nicotero admits.
Nicotero calmly understates a day on set with his team, “On a big zombie day, you get up at 3am. On an average zombie day, you get up at 5am. You do make up for 3-4 hours. You step outside and cover yourself in sunscreen. You cover yourself in bug spray. You go to set. Ultimately you’re covered in fake blood and you’re sticky. And then you wrap and clean up all the zombies. On your way home to stop at the local tavern, get a beer and fish tacos, and go home to bed. And you check for ticks.”
Reedus comments, “Greg Nicotero is so good at what he does. It’s super disgusting. [In one scene] it felt correct. There was the right amount of goop and blood and bile – he had bile in there – and every single organ was heavy and full and made noises. It was pretty dope.”
“First Time I saw a walker…
It was just half a body…Snapping at me from the ground…
But what the world is out there, isn’t what you saw on TV…
It’s much, much worse.”
THE WALKING DEAD returns to AMC in its second season, once again with a 90-minute premiere episode, airing at 9 PM ET on Sunday, October 16th, with six one-hour episodes in the weeks following. The final six episodes of the season commence on Sunday, February 12th at 9pm ET.