Ride With Norman Reedus Q&A — Norman Reedus
The star of Ride With Norman Reedus talks about riding with old friends and castmates, the surprising celebrity on his riding bucket list and why Season 3 is the best so far.
Q: How is Ride Season 3 different from past seasons?
A: I think Season 3 of Ride is the one to beat. It's by far the best season we've ever done. It took three seasons to capture what the show was. We started off in the first season and it was more like a gearhead show, like "This is a so-and-so motorcycle made by so-and-so with so-and-so parts." Then the second season, the hype of the show got out, and wherever we would go, we just got swarmed by people. And then we just started incorporating that into the show because that's part of it. That's part of what we're experiencing and we wanted people to feel like they were with us, doing what we were doing, and since that happened everywhere we went, we just started including it. Then with Season 3, we threw all caution to the wind and just had a really good time, and you can tell.
Q: This season is a bit of a reunion tour for you. What was it like reuniting with old friends and castmates to ride and travel the world?
A: It's great. You know, it's funny, [planning] the episode in Scotland, I remember we were shooting the last scene of [The Walking Dead] Season 8. Melissa [McBride] and I are sitting on this hill overlooking this valley as they're setting up the scene, and we were just sitting there talking, and I said, "You know, you should get your motorcycle license and you should come on Ride. Where would you want to go?" And she said, "Well I have family buried in Scotland and I don't really know that side of my family," and I said, "Get your motorcycle license and let's go!" And she ended up doing it, and it was kind of an organic way of doing an episode. It wasn't like, "Oh hey, we're going to this place if you want to join us." It was more like, "We're gonna go there." It turned out to be one of the most honest, fun Ride episodes I've ever done. She and I are really good friends and it just came out really, really honest and cool and fun. Jeffrey [Dean Morgan] is always fun to go around with; Austin Amelio was a blast. It was nice being with some of my friends... Riding with [Marilyn] Manson in Nashville was a blast. I've known him for a long time. It's kind of a different side of Marilyn because everyone thinks he's so ‘dark' and ‘he's evil,' but he's literally one of the most romantic, nicest guys I've ever met. Every little kid walks up to him and they want to talk to him and he talks back. He's just an awesome guy, so it was really fun. The whole season is fun.
Q: Andrew Lincoln is another non-rider you converted to come on the show for the Season Premiere. How did that happen?
A: His father-in-law is Ian Anderson from Jethro Tull, who's a legend. So I emailed Ian and was like, "Do you want to be on Ride? I know you like motorcycles and stuff like that, do you want to do it?" And then Andy came to work the day after and he goes, "Hey, so I heard you emailed Ian about being on Ride," and I said, "Yeah! It's gonna be great!" He said, "Well do you want me on the episode?" and I said, "Nah man, I just want Ian." He goes, "No really, don't you want me on the thing?" and I'm like, "Nah dude, I just want your father-in-law, he's Jethro Tull! I don't need you." [Laughs] So I kinda let that ride for about a week, watched him mope around for awhile before I said, "Dude, of course I want you on!" It was nice to have him on there, and we finally got him on a motorcycle, which was cool. I think he rode the thing in second gear the entire time.
Q: What is it like sharing your passion for riding with newcomers?
A: It's always fun. One of the joys of doing the show is when people come up to me and they're like, "Oh, I got my motorcycle license because I watched Ride" or "I wanna go to that place where you went [in the show]." On Season 2, we had all these badass girls on the show, and then all of a sudden all these girls were coming up to me and going, "Hey, it was so cool that you had all those girls on the show, they were all so cool. I got my license because I saw Imogen riding." Old people, young people, they watch the show and think, "That looks like fun." It's always nice when you share that with people and they get it and they want to do it too.
Q: In the Season 3 Premiere, you head to Stonehenge with Jeffrey Dean Morgan to cross that off his bucket list. What's on your bucket list?
A: I wanna ride through Vietnam with Cher. That would be on my bucket list.
Q: Maybe in Season 4?
A: [Laughs] It's not happening in Season 4, but I won't give up. It's crazy with Stonehenge, too, because you always assume it's in this valley, hard to get to, and it's literally off the freeway. You're riding on the freeway and you look over and go, "Is that Stonehenge?" It was fun, it was definitely a blast.
Q: This season is full of so many diverse locations and pit stops. How do you and the crew decide which places to go?
A: We try to get somebody who has a connection to the place where we're going. Sometimes it doesn't work out that way, especially when you get celebrities on because they're always on a schedule. Some of them really ride, some of them say they kinda ride but they really don't. We get up at the crack of dawn and we hit the road -- we really ride. We don't ride for 15 minutes and take a break; we'll ride for like 300 miles. ... To be honest, I like meeting the real deal riders just as much as hanging out with celebrities. Sometimes we stop in a little biker bar and ask people. Sometimes we get people who have a connection, sometimes we get people who want to know what a place is like but have never been there.
Q: Who are some of the "real deal" riders in Season 3?
A: We have this one girl this season, her name's Elspeth [Beard]. She's the first female rider to ride all the way around the world… back when there weren't cell phones. She just brought this big, thick manual with her. So anytime something broke, she had to look it up in this big complicated manual and figure out how to do electric wiring for this, or do this or that. She had to make due with whatever she could find in whatever little town she was in. Sometimes she had to wait weeks in some little town, waiting for a spark plug to show up. That's dope. That's so much cooler than whipping out your iPhone and calling AAA. Part of her story is that she wrote to all these biker magazines and said "Hey I'm traveling around the world, do you want me to write for you? I'm keeping a journal. Do you want to make a story out of this?" And they wrote her back saying, "Look, you should just stay at home. There's no way you're gonna make it" -- really sexist bulls--t. She kept that letter, and she went all the way around the world - and then she wrote a book, and all of that is in the book. Meeting people like that is so inspiring to me, and if we can keep the show fun and also as real as possible, that's so much better. That's the goal.
Q: Were there any locations this season that you were particularly looking forward to?
A: I was really interested in Scotland. But I have to say, Scotland was freezing cold, and it was crazy windy. Our stunt guy, his name is Greg -- he's the real deal best rider I've ever seen in my life. [In Scotland] he was like, "You're not getting on a bike today. No way. It's like hurricane winds, it's not happening." But then the rides with Austin [in Arizona], we'd be in the middle of nowhere going down the freeway with nothing around us and it would be beautiful -- and then there's this big gust of wind and my bike is going sideways on me. We base the show a lot on Anthony Bourdain, a lot on Long Way Round that Ewan McGregor made, and my favorite parts of that are when they get stuck in mud, or they get a flat tire, or their bike breaks down and they have to deal with it. You don't want beautiful scenery the whole time; you want to feel like you're actually there -- and getting stuck in the mud is part of it.
I remember when we first started the show they were like, "Who do you want to do your hair and makeup?" and I was like, "I don't want hair and makeup!" When I take off my helmet, I want helmet hair. We don't have a hair and makeup person, and for a network, they're like, "But you have to look good," and I'm like, "No, I just have to look real." All those little things make it more realistic because it's really happening.
Q: There's a big musical presence this season as well. Why was it important to you to incorporate so many artists and musicians into your adventures this season?
A: Well music and motorcycles go hand in hand. They always have. I sing songs when I'm in my helmet like all day long. You go back to the songs you love, to the ones that make you feel the way you feel on a motorcycle. But music and bikes, they always go together. We have some really rebellious and badass musicians this year. I'm telling you, Season 3 of Ride is the one to beat. It's great.
Season 3 premieres on Sunday, February 10 at Midnight/11c. AMC Premiere subscribers can binge the full season before anyone else starting Friday, February 8.
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