Last week, the cast of AMC’s hit apocalyptic drama “The Walking Dead” hit the red carpet for the show’s fifth season premiere in L.A. We got the chance to chat with the cast and crew about their favorite horror flicks, what’s in store for the characters, and their weapon of choice when battling the undead. While a few of the actors are self-described wimps when it comes to scary movies, none of them hesitated to share how they’d take on a walker that crossed their path.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming season?
Lawrence Gilliard Jr (Bob Stookey): “Personally, I would love to see Rick and Michonne get together. That’s what I would be excited about.”
Andrew West (Gareth): “Just the entire different direction I think the show is going to take. It’s been so successful and it’s done everything right up until this point and it’s changing it up again. There’s going to be a lot that we’ll see that’s surprising in terms of show, the amount of high-energy scenes, and a lot of the new facets of these characters that we’ve become familiar with over the years. And also new characters too, like my character. We’re going to see a lot of different sides to his personality and to what he’s all about.”
Gale Anne Hurd (Executive Producer): “I’m most excited to see what the fans think, because we have some big surprises in store, and it’s going to be one where I advise people to go out and get a seat belt for their living room sofa. It will be money well-spent.”
Greg Nicotero (makeup artist/director): “It’s such a thrilling series. What I love about the first episode is that you feel every emotion you can imagine feeling, and it’s tremendously exciting. We stick close to the graphic novel for a lot of moments, just like we always do, but we twist it just enough. So I’m really excited to just let the audience see what we’ve been doing.”
Josh McDermitt (Dr. Eugene Porter): “I’m excited for everyone to see what happens if and when we get out of the train car. There’s so much speculation and I’ve read a lot of the rumors to see what’s going on with Terminus. I just can’t wait for people to see and I can’t believe it’s here.”
Emily Kinney (Beth Greene): “I’m excited for the fans to finally get to see where Beth is and see how she deals with her new circumstances. And also there are so many awesome new characters and I think that’s exciting.”
Norman Reedus (Daryl Dixon): “These characters are so different from when we first started off. We come flying out of the gate in the fifth year, it’s that way the whole time. It’s kind of like if in the Terminus car that we’re in, you took a rubber ball and you just smashed it and it goes, boing-boing-boing. It’s so all over the place. In the best way.”
Does your character have any surprises in store for us in season 5?
Emily Kinney: Yes. She’s definitely going to have to step it up a little. And I think you’re going to see her use what she learned last season in this season.
Norman Reedus: Yeah, some crazy stuff happens. I mean with all of us. There are certain characters whose journeys are just whoa! Same with Daryl. All of us are like that this year.
What has it been like to join the cast of such a well-established show?
Gillard Jr: “It’s been great. They’ve welcomed me with open arms and made me feel really a part of it, as if I were not joining them this season at all but like I’ve been on it for a couple of years. They’re very generous people, more so than you would imagine being on such a popular show. Everyone is very much grounded and cool, so its been a great experience that way.”
West: “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I haven’t ever been a part of a show that has such a huge fanbase as this. And to come into when it’s already up-and-running can be overwhelming but you jump in and you realize that you’re in good hands and these people know what they’re doing.”
Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford): “It’s been fantastic. The fan response, the support from the network, it’s just nothing like I’ve ever experienced. Ever. And I don’t know if I ever will again, because it’s pretty insane.”
McDermitt: “It’s been a dream. I was a huge fan of the show before I ever came on. I’ve been on other shows where some cast is great and some cast isn’t, but the very first day I came to work Andy Lincoln wasn’t even in that episode and he drove down to meet us and have lunch with us. I was like, this right there is special. I pinch myself all the time. I’m starstruck, I was just standing next to Andrew Lincoln! That’s awesome.”
Chad Coleman (Tyreese): “I’ve had a little history with that. I came into ‘The Wire’ Season 3, so there’s a lot of similarities there. I’m a big sports guy, so it’s like loving the L.A. Lakers and them inviting me to play. And not saying sit on the bench, but them giving me the ball.”
Were you a horror fan before “The Walking Dead?”
Gillard Jr: “I’m not a horror movie guy. I scare too easy. Even coming attractions have me going ‘Ahh!'”
West: “Yeah, I like the old ones. I like the old ‘Friday the 13ths’ and the ‘Nightmare on Elm Streets,’ the ‘Halloweens.’ Those are my favorites.”
Cudlitz: “I used to be a huge B-movie horror fan. Coming up I did a lot of construction work, I made my way through school doing construction for horror movies. I’m a huge Romero fan. You know, who doesn’t love “Dawn of the Dead?” That’s where it all started. And now, it’s kind of weird, I’ve gotten more into the gore which is not my thing. I don’t need to know what it really looks like to rip somebody’s brains out. I think sometimes what’s less seen is more interesting than what is seen.”
McDermitt: “I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of the horror genre. It freaks me out. I think the reason I was drawn to “The Walking Dead” in the first place is that it’s not just a show about zombies; it’s a show about human survival. And that’s the important thing, and that’s what I love. But people ask me what are your favorite horror movies and I try not to watch that stuff because I get scared. I get really scared.”
Kinney: “I am! I love the ‘Scream’ movies. I love ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer.’ I love also ‘Hocus Pocus.’ When Halloween starts to come around I start watching it when they play the marathons. So that’s a big one for me.”
Reedus: “Yeah. ‘The Exorcist,’ I love that. ‘The Omen’ was my favorite movie as a kid.”
What would be your weapon of choice in the zombie apocalypse?
Gillard Jr: “I’d like to wield a Katana the way Michonne does. I have a bit of a Michonne complex here.”
West: “I love Tyreese’s hammer. I want a hammer; I just want to swing a hammer.”
Cudlitz: “I think Tyreese has it down, I’m going with that hammer. Yeah, you drop the hammer. It doesn’t run out of batteries. It doesn’t run out of ammo. The hammer!”
Hurd: “I’m going to go with something from “Aliens.” I’m going to go with a flamethrower.”
Nicotero: “My weapon of choice would be my makeup kit because I could make myself up as a zombie and nobody would ever know. I will be the most popular guy in the zombie apocalypse because everybody will want to come over to the shop so I can make them up as zombies and then they’ll survive. So I’m set. There’ll be a big line.”
Alanna Masterson (Tara Chambler): “Shotgun. Just because the sound of it is really cool.”
McDermitt: “My weapon of choice is going to be Abraham Ford. I mean that guy is just a walking muscle with guns. I think Eugene has it right. I might be able to contribute a little bit but I think I would have Michael Cudlitz there along with me.”
Kinney: “It’s always for me a knife. I kind of love that (Chad Coleman) has a hammer, because I wish that I could sometimes switch with him. Because it’s quiet, it gets them right in the head. I kind of wish I could switch with Chad and have a hammer.”
Coleman: “Come on now, this is painfully obvious. I’m the hammer man! Stay away from the hammer. That’s my deal.”