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Q&A – Jon Bernthal (Shane)

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The Walking Dead actor describes shooting the boss’s daughter for the Season Finale and explains why he considers himself the cast member best prepared to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Q: You used to be a professional baseball player. Now you’re killing zombies for a living. Any other boyhood fantasies you’re planning to fulfill?

A: [Laughs] I remember being a little kid and going to the doctor’s office and reading this Babe Ruth cartoon. There was this shot of Babe Ruth leaning up against this wall eating a hot dog, and he goes, “What in the world could be better than this? I get paid to sit around, play baseball, and eat hot dogs.” And I remember thinking: Wow, that’s really it. If you can figure out how to get paid to do something you love that’s the dream. It was baseball for a while, but finding [acting] blows baseball out of the water. This is really my dream.

Q: Shane wears the number twenty-two around his neck. What do you imagine his sport was?

A: Nice. That was his football number. I remember on the first day of shooting I just walked up to Frank and I said, “Hey man, I have this idea.” He said, “Definitely, it’s great.” My football number was twenty-one, but that just somehow made sense for Shane, twenty-two. And I would never wear my number around my neck — but he does.

Q: Having read the graphic novel? Were you surprised Shane made it through Season 1?

A: We’re trying to create a world here where at any second you could get eaten by a f—ing walker. I think it helps, as an actor, to never know when you’re going to get that next script and you’re done. I remember people talking about that on The Sopranos: You never knew when you were going to get whacked, and there is something similar here. All I hope is that he earns his death. I think he’s gotta go, but I hope we get as much out of this character as we can.

Q: Do you have a favorite walker from the season?

A: I liked Gale’s daughter. Gale Anne Hurd is the executive producer and her daughter was there as we were coming out of the CDC. I got to shoot her right before she went off to Princeton, which is pretty cool. We were just like full on sprint. Bam. Right in the head. And she fell great. The whole thing was kind of crazy. You’re shooting your boss’s daughter. It was insane.

Q: Is there anyone in your own life that you’re as close to as Shane was to Rick?

A: Absolutely. I’ve had the same group of best friends since I was like seven years old. I just got married a couple weeks ago, and they were all my best men. They roasted me so frickin’ bad I thought my wife’s family was going take her out of there. We’ve done everything together. We’ve literally fought for our lives together. I totally get that. A bunch of people have come up to me and said, “Is there something sinister about Shane? Was he always coveting Lori?” For me, the answer is absolutely not. Shane was the kind of guy that was going over to the Grimes household three times a week, unannounced. He’d pull up, grab a plate, sit down and eat dinner with them all in one motion. He was a part of that family. What happens after, that’s all reactionary.

Q: Who do you think in the cast would have the best chance of surviving a real zombie apocalypse?

A: Actor wise? I think I would. I really do. I’m trying to come up with someone else but I think I would totally do it the best. [Laughs] I mean look, I think I could bash a zombie’s head in better than anyone else. I could live in the woods pretty well. I’ve done that before. We’re actors — we’d all pretty much suck, but I think I would suck the least.

Q: Did you take any mementos from the set?

A: Every day I wear Shane’s costume boots. They are my only shoes. They are these huge police boots that have been ripped up and they’ve got blood and dirt all over. I love them. They’re super comfortable and I just like big boots. As soon as they let me try them on I asked if I could keep them. I’m not a big shopper.

Click here to read an interview with the actor who plays Shane’s best friend, partner and romantic rival, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).

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