We’ve had the pleasure of spending this morning with 9 members of The Walking Dead cast alongside Creative Director Greg Nicotero who has also directed 18 of the episodes over the course of the seven seasons. The cast are currently on their European Tour with different members heading to different places to promote the fantastic zombie show which has to be up there as one of the best shows currently on TV.
Obviously this will
Below is our interview with Austin Amelio (Dwight), Josh McDermitt (Eugene) & Tom Payne (Jesus) who talk about what it’s like working on one of the most challenging and popular TV shows broadcast today. They talk about how much they know about a story coming up and what audiences can expect from the season 7 finale.
What’s it like being in such a massive show?
Josh McDermitt: It was my favourite show before I started working on it. The fact that I get to go to work on what is still my favourite show is exciting to me. I didn’t want to come in and screw it up. I didn’t want to be the guy who ruins his favourite show. We all talk about it a lot – this is a special place. We’ve all worked on other projects where we don’t have the magic that’s on this set. We’re all working together to make this as real and authentic as possible and that’s the best part. Going to work and having fun.
What on set shocks or scares you?
Josh : Norman…! Norman shocks the shit outta me.
Austin Amelio: Zombies for me. You’re going to lunch and then fifteen zombies walk out.
Tom Payne: They look so real. Greg and his team do such an amazing job and they’re always coming up with new designs – we have the sandwalkers this season and the ones that are in the lake. They’re having the best time coming up with all these kinds of walkers. And they all look disgusting. Real…and crazy. They guys and girls who play them, I take my hat off to them, it’s incredibly hot in Atlanta an they’re wearing full on body suits. That’s tough.
Josh: And a mask over their mouths, so they can’t talk to you. There was something that came out ‘The zombies aren’t allowed to talk to the cast…’ – they physically can’t! To have all that make up on to have to fall down and die take after take. It’s incredibly difficult. Sometimes they have to eat a smoothie for lunch!
Can you recognise yourself in the characters you play?
Tom: When I auditioned I did so with a completely different character name and a completely written scene – I didn’t know what I was auditioning for. So you can’t help but there be a certain amount of yourself in that character. There’s always yourself in a character – but you’re playing the scene you’re given in the way that comes naturally to you. That’s all you have. I think that’s what they are looking for. That quality in that actor which fits that role. I found out when I got the part. My agent said ‘We think it might be this guy from the comic book…’
I think they write the scenes that bring out your strongest quality.
Eugene is now in Negan’s camp. Is he plotting something?
Josh: That remains to be seen. I asked Scott Gimple to not tell me what Eugene’s intentions are. I think ultimately Eugene just wants to be free from the fear he’s been experiencing over the last eight to ten episodes. This is a man who likes to be left alone. Likes to live in own world. He’s crying, he’s lost two of his best friends, he’s watching people get killed all around him, he’s almost died several times… His perception of the world – he thought he became a survivor but the perception of what that world is changed. And he’s trying to figure out how can I survive? How can I pick up the pieces and move forward. I think he was able to do that by saying – ‘I’m Negan.’, I believe he’s Team Negan at this point. Whether or not he’s Trojan Horsing about this down the road – I don’t know. I want to believe that Eugene has his own interests at heart first.
And now pickles….
Josh: That’s my new nickname!
Are there now differences between Rick and Negan?
Josh: I guess it’s just gauging the brutality of each. Everybody, in order to get to this point has done something heinous – we’ve all had to do something to survive. Eugene does think of others, but he thinks of himself most.
Do you know your character backstories?
Austin: I was pretty detailed – I had a week before I had to get down there to start shooting, and that’s not enough time to read the comic books. I remember talking to Scott and he went into complete detail on who Dwight was and where he was coming from. He went to every specific character trait so I know him really well.
Do you have to understand them, to justify the actions to yourself.
Tom: As an actor you have to justify everything that you do. Otherwise it’s not filled. There’s always a reason for everything. There’s a reason why Negan is Negan and why Rick is Rick. Who’s to say that Negan wasn’t a family man five years ago – you just don’t know. Everyone always justifies things in their own minds. Our job is to justify why we do.
Josh: I do look at it from a fan’s point of view. I’m still a fan of the show, and I can see why some people are outraged at certain things. I thought there would be a lot more backlash for Eugene saying ‘I’m Negan.’ because I fell like I just got done over Eugene not having the cure. Which I would remind the fans – stop getting mad at me for not having the cure – if I had the show would be over! But I was surprised that the fans embraced him so much.
Would you have you taken the show ten years ago – not knowing how big it was going to become?
Josh: That’s a good question. I’m not a horror genre fan. I don’t like zombie movies or zombie shows, but I watched this one because it’s not a show about the zombies. It’s about the people trying to survive in this world. There’s something about the first episode that sucked me in. Was it Andrew Lincoln’s performance? Was it Lennie James? Was it Frank Darabont telling a great story? I don’t know, but I was hooked. This show has opened my mind to watch more horror movies.
What can we expect from the Finale?
Josh: Daryl dies… no, no! I’m kidding, I’m kidding…. Or am I? I think we’re seeing where things are heading right now. I think the finale will be a nice payoff. I think it’ll be a nice juxtaposition to where we started the season off. It’s a nice arc. If you look at this season as a whole I think it could go down as one of the best that the show has done. I think you’re going to be happy with the finale…because Daryl dies…!
The Walking Dead season 7 part B is currently on-air. It premieres on Mondays at 9pm on FOX. The season finale will take place on 3rd April.