SDCC 2014: The Walking Dead’s cast and crew talk about season 5

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With the release of the season 5 trailer, The Walking Dead are expected to deal with reuniting the entire team, dealing with cannibals at Terminus, taking a guy to Washington DC, and at the same time – fighting off flesh-eating zombies.

San Diego Comic-Con is the place to be to find out more about our favorite characters – spoilers! At the Hall H panel, hosted by Chris Hardwick, they mainly spoke about the evolution of the characters and less about what’s to come on the show. We had the chance to sit down with the cast and the crew of The Walking Dead after their Hall H panel to find out more.

Showrunner Scott Gimple commented on the trailer, “I’ve been through that trailer about a million times. I think I’ve already been freaked out once about something I’ve might have missed like forest and the trees. I don’t want to spill because I like people to have their checklist. But I will say a bunch. The bit we did about it was pretty funny. It’s just episode one. First two minutes.”

When asked about the trailer, executive producer Gail Anne Hurd commented, “We don’t want a show that is so doomed and gloomed. Since there is no hope, why are we watching? Beth The Walking DeadWhy are the characters still holding against hope? We do keep that going. You also will have seen there is quite a tease to where Beth might be.”

Emily Kinney added, “She is definitely separated from the group, but I feel like like I don’t want to give anything away. She is out there somewhere. Your questions about what happened and how she got there will be answered in season 5.”

When it came to the potential relationship that was beginning to bloom between Daryl and Beth during season 4, Kinney answered, “They definitely have a certain connection that has grown by surviving together. They have gotten to know each other on a deeper level that’s really special whether it’s friendship or something else. [It’s that] thing that you find with someone and it’s a deeper connection that they have and they’ve gotten to know each other. I think they hope to be surviving together again. I mean, who knows?”

As for Norman Reedus’ character Daryl, with dealing with the issues of being abandoned bythe walking dead daryl Beth, Hurd commented, “I think everything has an impact on our characters.” She later added, “You see over the course of the episode “Still” and moving onto the next one, that they develop a trust for each other and able to be vulnerable, and exposed that vulnerability. So yes. I think it’s pretty traumatizing.”

When asked about Judith being reunited with the Grimes boys, Hurd commented, “It’s actually really funny. We have new twins this year because the twins we used last season has grown beyond the size. In previous seasons, we began the show months later, this time, we immediately after Rick (Andrew Lincoln) threw down the gauntlet and said ‘They’re screwing with the wrong people.’ But, these are new twins. Reuniting with people they never met, was not the initial joyous reunion. There were a lot of misty eyes on set.”

Gimple jokingly commented on the “Judith” question, “That might have been Judith. We might have seen Rick with baby. Not the baby.”

Rick The Walking DeadAs for Rick going back into “survival mode” for this season, Hurd explains, “I think he’s come to terms and come to a level of acceptance with the fact that he is a leader and people look up to him as a leader. He needs to start wearing that mantle a little more comfortably. Shirking the responsibility didn’t work. Going to crazy town and shirking his responsibilities didn’t work. Putting everyone else in front of his family didn’t work. So I think now, he’s reach this acceptance. I have to do what I think is right. People look to him for that leadership to begin with. That doesn’t mean he’s not going to be tested. As with any character, sometimes you make the right decisions. Sometimes you make the wrong decisions. You need to live with the consequences.”

Lincoln commented more on his character, “He’s made peace with all of it. I think he’s in a very uncomplicated place. I am just as much human. Humanity is as real as much brutality. He realizes they’re both as just as important and probably why he is still here and his family. I dont think he has any conflict in him or moral ambiguity. He is very pragmatic. Very dangerous. And, a very formidable leader as a result. It’s great. So good to be playing.”

When asked about Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick’s relationship, Lincoln jokes, “It is the second question we ask in the writers room. The first one is “Are we gonna die? The second one is, “do we get laid?”

When asked about Michonne’s connection with baby Judith, due to the loss of her own child during the zombie apocalypse, Gurira answered, “I think what’s beautiful about Michonne… is there a reunion?” We informed her it was in the trailer. She continues, “The beauty of it is to see the reconciliation, seeing the pain that these two have gone through, to lose a child. She understands the beauty in pain in witnessing that.” She adds, “The beauty is that she cares about. Now they reconcile with Daryl and Maggie. That is the perfect place we are going to start.”

Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl Grimes, revealed a bit about his character for the season, “I think there are multiple things about Carl’s character. In season three, you saw him put down a kid and it was super easy for him. At the end of season 4, he realizes his actions and sees what his father did just to protect him. At the end of season 3, he was kinda in that state of mentality but he realizes what he’s doing and conscious of his decision. So he has the strength to do what he needs to do, but he’s conscious of it.”

As for the conversation between the Grimes boys in the trailer, Riggs commented, “I think Carl is more open to the idea of rebuilding civilization. Not everybody in the rest of the world cannot be horrible people trying to murder us.” Lincoln cuts in, “Yes, they can.” Riggs continued, “but yeah, that’s his state of mind. Not everyone can be bad. There has to be some good people left out there.”

0f068690-b741-11e3-8413-65e05b83664a_maggieWith lovebirds Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun), they were separated the
last season and were determined to find each other. Maggie commented on that storyline, “I think that time apart defines each of them in a way that’s gonna be great for people to see this season. We can be partners, but it’s not going to be this co-dependence.”

Yeun added, “Yeah, that was a tremendous feat to accomplish that goal. They did it. Moving forward, they still hold onto that. They hold onto the fact that things can’t work out, in spite of the terrible circumstances they find themselves in and holding that.”

We spoke to The Walking Dead newcomer Michael Cudlitz, who popped up in season 4 as Abraham, a past military soldier who is willing to stop at nothing to bring scientist Eugene to Washington DC. Cudlitz spoke a little bit about his character, “I think he is going to be taking on a bigger role because I’m here more. I think that is all yet to be seen, how the math works on that group. Things do Carol The Walking Deadchange when the group gets bigger. He’s still completely mission oriented. That comes before anything. If everybody is on board, then let’s go do this. I don’t think he’s too caught up. He’s a Sergeant. He’s not necessarily someone who is devising the plan from the ground up. I think that’s why he’s able to be controlled to a degree, or lead to a degree, by Eugene. He’s about executing the plan. There’s no ego involved in what he does. So someone else wants to come up with a plan and the plan fits with what he has to have done. We’ll do that. There’s nothing dictating that he has to be in charge. As long as he is doing what he has to do.”

With Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tyrese’s (Chad L Coleman) storyline, Kirkman reveals a little bit about Carol’s evolution, “Time has not passed. She is where she was at the end of season 4.” Damn. Coleman added, “You’ll find us where we were. There’s no deep little bow neatly wrapped up. This is the world we’re living it. It’s complicated.”tyrese carol the walking dead

When it came to the comics,, we wondered how close they were following the Washington DC storyline. Hurd comments, “There are things that every season that we try to take directly from the comic books and put a spin on it. With [creator] Robert Kirkman, his whole thing is “I get a do-over in a different media”. We also have characters like Daryl and Merle Dixon who weren’t from the comic books and that changes the dynamics. That changes everything. We can’t really follow it exactly. Mika and Lizzie, that were kinda inspired by the twin boys in the comics, but not exactly. So there is a lot of inspiration. A lot of the pathos and emotion inspired by relationships and journey in the comic.”

Gimple responded with emotion, “I read the comics before I watched the show. I watched the show before I worked on the show. I came out as fan. So it was easy. I was subjective before. I just read it to read it. There was stuff I thought ‘Oh that’s amazing’, so when I started working on the show. I was taking those moments that I thought were amazing. Because we had the ability to plan thing outs, because we had these incredible road maps. Glenn The Walking DeadWhat could we do to turn up those moments even more? What can we do to make this moment more and more intense? To get the feeling that Robert gave me when I read that. See if we could do that for the audience times ten. It’s always been like that since I started writing as a writer for the show, before I was running the show. So, we are very lucky. Just looking down there and putting the puzzle pieces together. It’s also what other stories work that generate other feelings, what are other stories that are completely different that still serve the comic, serve the inspiration and come in full circle. There’s Daryl and characters that are alive and dead in the book. That’s a little bit of a butterfly effect that things will change. It’s super fun. It’s not just doing transcription. It’s even working hard and coming up with brand new, creative ideas to get to places in the comic books that are virtually verbatim.”

The creator of the comics, Robert Kirkman, added, “There are certain stories that I would go to Scott and I’ll be like, ‘We’re not doing this the way I did before. I don’t want to do it like that. I want to do it a different way now.’ Not because I don’t like what I did, but there are times where I’m like, I want to see it go down a different way. I want to go down this avenue. I want to see what happens when we change this. That’s a really fun thing for me to do.”

THEWALKINGDEADThe overall theme to this season will be hope, Hurd mentions, “I think hope is essential. I think as a species, we need hope because we are beyond animals – what do we eat today, how do we sleep safely? They’ve gotten to that level as well, but that’s not enough for humanity. What they need is hope. They need hope. I don’t know another animal that will knowingly [with] knowledge commit suicide. You can give up as a human but our characters have each other to live for. Sometimes it’s – we need to rescue one of our characters that’s missing and that could be enough drive or it can be, ‘I have a family – baby Judith and Carl – or it’s a community of people who didn’t know each other before -that’s all family. They are living to find a safe haven for their family. As well as the potential hope that there is a cure out there.”

Kirkman added, “Story-wise, every season is a big challenge. This is a show about escalation, evolution and all these characters are changing. We always want to be able to top ourselves. So there’s a lot of work that’s done analyzing what we’ve done before and figuring out where we’re going next. How we are going to make it bigger, better, cooler, and fantastic. So, that’s something we put effort into. Going into season 5, we are kinda a well-oiled machine. We’ve been using the same crew, the same people. We have three directions coming back. We got Greg Nicotero doing our premiere. You know better than I do. We’re just rock n rolling.”

The Walking Dead returns on October 12th on AMC.

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Laura Sirikul
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