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Q&A – Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale)

The actor discusses his role as Frank Darabont’s “good luck charm,” sees common ground between The Walking Dead and Stephen King, and doles out  survival tips for surviving the apocalypse.

Q: You’ve been in nearly every Frank Darabont project. Can he still surprise you?

A: At this point I don’t think it’s so much surprises as it is that he keeps coming up with such amazing groups of people. I know that when I work with Frank that he will have assembled not just a whole bunch of talent, but a whole bunch of really cooperative people.

Q: Darabont calls you his good luck charm. Do you feel that way too?

A: He’s just a wonderful friend and colleague and I love working with him. Yeah, I had heard that and he’d told me that, and I suppose we’ve been lucky for each other. It’s been a great relationship.

Q: What was it like working with walkers daily?

A: You know I ended up loving it… I never said, “Gee I hope some day I get to do a show with zombies.” But it is a genre I have always enjoyed watching and it turned out to be absolutely fabulous.

Q: Since Atlanta was so hot during the shoot, were you glad Dale always wore a sun hat?

A: I wasn’t sorry about that. The heat was interesting because in the end I think it was a unifying force. Everybody was in it; there wasn’t a person there that wasn’t in this incredible heat. We looked after each other.

Q: You and Laurie Holden worked together on The Mist and The Majestic. Did those previous experiences help your chemistry?

A: Yeah, it’s nice. We trust each other, we know each other. That’s always a good thing.

Q: You’ve done a few Stephen King adaptations. Are there similarities between The Walking Dead and Stephen King?

A: When you started asking that I immediately thought of Storm of the Century a little bit. I suppose there is some similarity there — like there is this force that you really can’t do much about.

Q: Got any post-apocalyptic advice you’d like to share?

A: Twelve gauge.

Q: Is that your weapon of choice?

A: If I could use any weapon that’s the one that I would probably grab. The one I am using is a Remington, which is roughly like a thirty-aught-six.

Q: And for your stealthy melee weapon?

A: I am definitely in favor of the axe.

Q: That’s what you used in Episode 3, against a walker who was played by Special FX Make-Up Designer Greg Nicotero.

A: Man that guy, I tell you, he gave his all to that, I can’t believe it. He’s such a creative talent. And then to let himself be the victim on that one, but he chose that. He really wanted it to be good and to work well. He knew that he could bring that to it and geez, he took a beating.

Q: You chopped off his head! Were you afraid of missing by a few inches and actually hurting him?

A: Oh yeah! Granted when push came to shove that wasn’t a standard axe that I was taking toward his neck, but it still had weight and heft to it. And you’re going through the back of someone’s neck which is about as vulnerable a spot as it could be. I had to be really careful. We practiced it, and they kept saying, “Well no that’s not it, a little more.”

Q: What was it like shooting the camp attack scene?

A: The first day that I was around [the walkers], I remember coming around the corner of one of the trailers and it just stunned me, this creature that was standing there. And then the evening that we shot scene where the camp is threatened, we had to wait until dark and we were all just up on the little mountain top there hanging out, chatting and waiting. Then the vans arrived and out came about 40 or 45 of these creatures in a bunch. I think they had been told to be quiet when they got to the set, because they silently made their way right down the middle of the road. Everyone just parted and got out of the way while this crowd of creatures got to where they were supposed to be.

Click here to read an interview with the actress who plays Dale’s object of affection, Andrea (Laurie Holden).

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