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The Walking Dead Cast and Crew on Working With Writer-Director-Producer Frank Darabont

What’s it like to work with the Oscar-nominated director of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile? According to the cast and crew of The Walking Dead, it’s a dream come true. Throughout Season 1, the talented team responsible for AMC’s hit zombie-survivor series spoke about their experiences working with writer, director and executive producer Frank Darabont. Here’s what they had to say.

• “Frank was the reason I got on the plane! The Shawshank Redemption is one of the perfect movies. We had a long conversation about his ideas for the show, about what I thought Rick was and a lot of them seemed to correlate about what his ideas for Rick were. I would crawl through and over dead bodies again to work with him.” — Andrew Lincoln (Rick Grimes)

• “If Frank Darabont calls you and says he’s got a role for you, you say ‘Yes, thank you.’ There’s a few of us that have been fortunate enough to work with him a few times, and we’re referred to as the ‘Frank Darabont Troupe of Players.’ Frank likes to work with people he likes, and he knows they are going to come through for him. He was so supportive and so available that everyone felt like they had this gorgeous creative playground to play in, and it actually freed everybody up.” — Laurie Holden (Andrea)

• “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. He’s just a wonderful friend and colleague and I love working with him. I suppose we’ve been lucky for each other. It’s been a great relationship.” – Jeffrey DeMunn (Dale)

• “I said this to somebody the other day: I went to work with Frank, and it’s really like a double-edged sword because I am really excited that I get to work with one of the directors that I most admire on the planet, but I was a little frightened. But he trusts his actors, and that gives you a lot of confidence to bring your ideas to the table . Frank acts more like a guide. He wants to see what you are offering and he’s helping you to bring that and move it in different directions.” – Lennie James (Morgan)

• “Frank didn’t direct any of the episodes that I was in, and I didn’t even see him until sometime near the end of shooting. I turn around and there’s Frank! And I go up to him, I’m like, ‘Thank you so much for this.’ He was like, ‘This is so great that you’re here.’ Then I turn around and turn back and he’s gone. Who is this man?” — Melissa McBride (Carol)

• “Working with Frank on the The Walking Dead was awesome. He didn’t direct my episodes, but he was there. And he was very very hands-on: Frank let the directors that were doing my episodes do their job, but you know as a friend and a colleague he came in on the first read-through. Definitely, his presence was known. And you know what? It turned out good.” – Michael Rooker (Merle Dixon)

• “There’s this group of people that work with Frank over and over again — I’ve been fortunate enough to go and play with him three times — and I think that’s a testament to him, his loyalty to people, but also people wanting to come back to work with him over and over again.” – Hunter Via (Editor)

• “I’ve been best friends with Frank Darabont since before he directed The Shawshank Redemption, and we share a similar interest and nostalgic devotion to George Romero and Night of the Living Dead. We started talking about this project probably three or four years ago, when Frank was talking about wanting to do something different with zombies… And from then on, it’s just been like, ‘Hey man! We get to create zombies!'” – Greg Nicotero (Special F/X Make-Up Designer, Consulting Producer)

• “[Frank Darabont] is vastly improving the material. And there are things here and there that along the way I should have caught, but didn’t. There’s some amazing stuff he added for Morgan’s character in the Pilot episode that’s just not in the comic. It was back story, but he handles it in a way that just really brings it to the forefront.” – Robert Kirkman (Comic Creator, Series Executive Producer)

Click here to read an interview with The Walking Dead‘s showrunner himself, Frank Darabont

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