The Walking Dead executive producer Gale Anne Hurd recently had the chance to speak at a Masterclass at the Edinburgh International TV Festival about the upcoming season of the anticipated AMC show returning this fall. Of course, everyone wants to know about the new big bad Negan. She had a few choice words about him, his arrival, not dragging anything out longer than it needs to be, and what it means for the show going forward.
“In this new season Negan is the game changer, and whatever we did someone was going to be unhappy… so we promised we will be picking up where that left off; we are not going to draw it out.”
Hurd commented on when the show was first being developed the show first was being developed by the producer and creator Frank Darabont over at NBC and it had a very different response from television executives. NBC wasn’t completely sold on the need to have zombies on a show like The Walking Dead and wanted the show to be a procedural where there would be two main protagonists that would solve the “zombie crime of the week.” They even asked the following:
“Do there have to be zombies [in it]?”
Sound like it was a good choice to go with AMC who helped adapt the show to mirror the comic book closely. Hurd also commented that even though the show has zombies in it, the show is much more about the humans and how they have to deal with a new world.
“It’s not about the zombies it’s about the humans. What attracted me to [Robert Kirkman’s] comic-book series is that it is a story about characters on a journey into this new world, and constantly trying to figure out not only how to survive but what’s important to them, and some characters give up, some characters commit suicide, and they are constantly evolving, they are constantly meeting new characters; they have to determine friend or foe, and very quickly we realize that it is not the zombies you have to be afraid of, it’s the other humans.”
Hurd was also joined at the festival by actor Michael Cudlitz (Abraham Ford) who also was very excited about the show going forward. He got to speak about the intense season six finale and Negan’s arrival. When discussing Jeffrey Dean Morgan joining the show as Negan he was commenting on him just hitting the ground running.
“As an actor every [show] you start in the middle is like the first day of school, and to have to deliver 13 pages of dialogue… and doing what he was doing was a lot of stuff to process for him.”
Cudlitz also commented on the grueling process of filming that memorable scene as well as the season premiere which picks right up from the season finale. The actors have to commit to filming eight hours a day on their knees and be in constant peril of this new bad guy, as well as the knowledge that one of them wasn’t going to be on the show for long.
“It is a cold couple of nights on your knees under really sh-tty circumstances and knowing that for someone you love and care about it is their curtain-call.”
Cudlitz who joined the show in 2010 is now considered a veteran on the show reflected on him joining the show as well. He was initially sent the pilot script and was immediately hooked on the show.
“I read it and remember thinking: ‘Holy sh-t, I’ve just turned 26 pages and there’s been no dialogue. We are seeing this story cinematically through this character’s eyes. We are learning about this world with no dialogue.’”
He also loves the fan reaction to the AMC show and compared his love for being on the show to the love of a child referencing one time he was introduced to fans at the New York Comic-Con in 2013.
“There was so much affection from the fans and so I put up my hand in the air and it swelled probably seven times, and there’s a look of terror on my face. ‘Oh Holy Sh-it, what the hell is going on?’ That’s part of the process. It’s like having a kid…. They say you won’t know what love is until you hold your baby… And that’s what this show is: you think you understand what it is going to be, but from the outside it can never be fully explained to you, because it is an emotional, physical thing that is shared between everybody involved in the show and the audience, and unless you are doing it you can’t understand it.”
The Walking Dead returns to AMC October 23, 2016.