NYCC 2013: AMC's THE WALKING DEAD Panel
AMC unveiled its Walking Dead panel on Saturday at the New York Comic Con.
Nicole Brown from Community opened up the panel, introducing Executive Producers Gale Anne Hurd and David Alpert? Alpert said that this is a great time to be a Walking Dead fan - the comic is hitting its 10th anniversary, it's the New York Comic Con, it's the Walking Dead Escape on the Intrepid, and the debut of Season Four tomorrow.
Hurd thanked the audience for making The Walking Dead "the number one show on TV."
They began with a clip featuring Darryl, Michonne and some of the other survivors trying to figure out what Darryl was before the zombie apocalypse. One joked "homicide detective." Darryl played along, saying he was undercover.
The guessing game is interrupted, however, when zombies start pushing against the windows. The shot eventually pans up to the roof, where we see a downed helicopter, and dozens of walkers shambling around the wreckage.
Brown then introduced series creator Robert Kirkman, showrunner Scott Gimple, special effects director Greg Nicotero, who came onto the set in a zombie mask. The cast was also introduced, as Andrew Lincoln, Danai Gurira, Steven Yeun, Lauren Cohan, Chad Coleman, and Norman Reedus.
As a super-fan, Brown asked, how invested should we get in these new people? Gimpel said, "fully." Cohan said, "they're people, too!"
Brown then asked Kirkman if there was a particular scene in the comics that he couldn't wait to have filmed. "There are always those moments," Kirkman said. "There are things that happened this season that made me tear up when they came together." The new character Negan is pretty awesome, Kirkman said. "There's a big wishlist."
What is the big threat for season four? Nicotero said that our heroes have become so adept at killing walkers that you have to catch them off-guard and unaware. Hurd said with the walkers roaming on the roof, "a lot of bad shit is going to happen soon." She said that a theme that would come out is "beware within."
Brown asked for any stories about the casting process. Yeun said "my story is very fortuitous and blessed… I remember I auditioned for an ABC show, I tested and I thought I did great, and I was crushed. A month later, Walking Dead happened. If I had booked that other show - which didn't even do anything - I couldn't have done Walking Dead. And this is the fudging Walking Dead."
Lincoln said that a scene where he had to cut a leg off was particularly unnerving - both for him and everyone who witnessed it. "What was I supposed to do? He was infected." Even the crew stepped away from him, he seemed so zealous.
Gurira started the series off particularly silent, Brown said, but now she's starting to open up. Is it harder to be silent or emotional? Gurira said it was the silence. "This chick is so different from me, in that regard," she said. "There's a lot of intensity in what she was doing… I think it was more emotional inside when I didn't talk."
Brown asked Cohan if she had to choose between Glenn or Herschl, who would she choose? Cohan, saying that if there was a hypothetical liferaft with only one seat left, said "I think my dad would want me to pick my boyfriend." Yeun said that Glenn would make her pick Herschl, and then would "float away on a piece of plywood for the rest of my life."
Nicotero said he was all about making the walkers a bigger threat, and upping their proximity.
Coleman said that Robert Kirkman's support gave him a lot of confidence towards playing the role. "So far, so good, right?" he said.
Brown then asked Reedus where Darryl is emotionally, after the loss of Meryl? "He's finding his self-worth through these people, and he'll do anything to keep them alive," he said. "He's going into full-blown wolf-mode. He means what he says, and he wears his heart on his sleeve." Brown said she ships Carol and Darryl, and also a "Richonne" situation between Rick and MIchonne.
"I do appreciate that people want to see Michonne get some," Gurira said.
Gimpel said "all of these actors on stage, and even ones not on stage, will have stories this season. Each of these characters will have an arc, and each of these characters will crash into each other… by the end of the season, you will know more about these characters even more."
Are there any new weapons this season? Gimpel said "there is a lot of action at the fence… there are a lot of people in the prison, and there are a lot of walkers near the fence." He said they've taken Glenn's method in the comics has been taken to the next level.
Is there any casting news we ca. Christina Sorratos has joined the cast, and Josh McDermott will play Eugene. He will have a mullet, it was confirmed.
Brown then opened up the floor to questions, and the microphones were immediately swarmed by Walking Dead fans. A familiar-looking audience member asked will Abraham make it into the cast? As he got more heated, Brown invited him onto the panel and introduced him - Michael [Tetanus] of Band of Brothers was officially announced as Abraham.
Will any characters from the Walking Dead video games make it into the show? Kirkman said it's not impossible, but there are currently no plans.
A young fan then was invited on stage to give the cast friendship bracelets.
One audience member said that some fans didn't like Andrea and Laurie - he asked that during season one, did anyone on the panel think that Carol would be the strong female lead that she is today?
Gimpel said that Carol "showed a lot of strength, bringing her dead husband's head." Now in the trailers, we've seen her teach children about knives - she's making sure that not only is she not a victim, but neither are the kids.
How much of a surprise it is when people are killed? Gimpel said it's an unpleasant thing, because the cast is so tight-knit. He said he didn't enjoy watching Amy die in season one, and now that he writes for the show, it's even worse. Michael Rooker got about a week and a half's notice, Nicotero said.
Lincoln said that you regret losing these characters. "As long as you honor the dead and it serves a purpose, it makes the story even stronger… but it's heartbreaking."
A fan asked if Lincoln could play any other character, what would he play? Lincoln said Carl. "Chandler Riggs is going to kick ass this season - wait for episode nine," he said.
A young fan said that Maggie was his favorite character, to the point where he had a shirt that said "If Maggie Dies, I Riot." He said he was a tremendous fan of Maggie, but asked if she needed to be protected by Glenn so much. Yeun threw off his jacket in anger. The fan then told Reedus "my mom loves you to death!" Reedus signaled she should give him a call sometime.
Lincoln said that one episode coming up was so disturbing, he had to call random cast members "just to hear a human voice." "We are going to get into so much trouble for this episode," he said.
Nicotero said that moments like Sophia exiting the bar were so powerful and heartbreaking for him, that it made him wonder "how I'm going to protect my own kids when all this stuff happens!"
There is a tradition where each killed character got a send-off with a dinner, and a fan asked Reedus, which character got the best dinner? "I drank the most during Jon Bernthal." Cohan said they had to have positive dinners to throw waitresses off the scent, because they kept going to restaurants crying.
Reedus said that when he first read the pilot script, he said he would do anything to get on the show - he says he's offered to cook for Kirkman, sleep with him, and clean his car, just to get put in the comic. "This feels like our show, you know?" Reedus said. "We have such awesome bosses and it's such a collaborative effort… it's such a blast."
Brown then asked Nicotero about a zombie he was particularly excited about - he is known as "the Moss Walker," who has affectively grown into the ground, with moss and vines growing all into and through his body.
The panel then concluded with a final clip from the show. It's Darryl, Michonne, Tyrese and Bob driving in a car. They are playing with the radio, and they start to here what might be a voice - that is, until they nearly run over a pack of walkers. Suddenly, as the camera zooms back, we see dozens and dozens of zombies in the distance. Darryl puts the car in reverse, running over zombies in his wake - when suddenly, the bodies actually push the car off the ground, their brains skittering across the pavement like they're stuck in a snowbank.