Norman Reedus, star of Ride With Norman Reedus, and, of course, a little show called The Walking Dead, discusses how Season 4 goes to the next level, plus what it was like visiting Japan, Costa Rica and more.
Q: How would you say Season 4 takes Ride to the next level?
A: We’ve always wanted to go to Japan, that was always a big one. Every year, every season, we try to push it. We try to push it with the graphics, we try to push it with the editing, we try to push it with the fun, the locations, the guests. The show keeps growing. It’s a lot like The Walking Dead. We never sit still. We just had really good guests, really good locations, and we try to have as much fun as possible. We follow shows like Top Gear, Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman’s shows, and of course Anthony Bourdain, and I’m a really big fan of all three of those shows, and we kind of use them like our bible and we just try to have fun. What’s great about shows like Top Gear is that they look like they’re having a blast. So we try to have fun, and if we’re having fun, the show will be fun, and people will have fun watching it.
A: It was cool to take him from his hometown back to Atlanta. I started The Walking Dead with him, so to see where he comes from and meet his family, and drive back into Atlanta where it all began was pretty epic. At one point, we were getting close to Atlanta and we’re behind the camera van, and we’re talking to each other in our helmets, and I start reciting lines for The Walking Dead, because I started filming The Walking Dead the next day. So I was trying to remember my lines for Walking Dead while shooting Ride in time. It was weird, having my two worlds collide.
Q: You’ve spent a lot of time in the countries you visit this season — Japan, Costa Rica — before visiting on Ride. What was it like returning in this new way?
A: Both of those places I have a real love affair with: Japan, I used to live there; Costa Rica, I still live there. Getting to see the places that I fell in love with, for the reasons I fell in love with them, is really special to me. Milo [Ventimiglia], in Japan, he knew Japan really well. A lot of the areas that we went to, he knew a lot about them and I didn’t. He kind of has the same affection for the craftsmanship and the loyalty and the dedication to the certain time era, or a certain type of craft that you need or learn. There’s a learned skill to making really vintage motorcycles – as vintage and authentic as they were when they came out in the factory, so you have this guy in Japan making vintage motorcycles and restoring vintage motorcycles exactly as they looked in the 50s and 60s, you have to really understand the craft. In Japan, in particular, with everything they do, from furniture making to clothes making, to motorcycles, whatever, it’s important to them to put in the time and the hours and the craftsmanship to make them as authentic as possible. It’s a real gift and a real appreciation for the past. It’s very zen.
See how Season 4 takes Norman and his companions to the edge of danger:
Q: How did it feel to have so many parts of your life — TWD, motorcycles, your years living in Japan and Costa Rica — intersecting this season?
A: We always keep that in mind. We’ll get a guest that knows the area we’re going to, and a lot of times that guest will come from my Rolodex. I’m like, “This guy’s great!” Because you build relationships with people through the years. Sometimes we’ll have strangers to me, and a lot of times, like Marilyn Manson, Dave Chapelle, we have people that are my friends, because I know they’ll be really fun and we’ll have a lot to talk about.It’s good to do both, to have both of those options.
Q: You meet up with Hideo Kojima while riding in Japan — what was it like seeing his studio after the release of his highly anticipated video game which you starred in, Death Stranding?
A: It was really cool. He’s got such a huge team of people working on that game. And to meet the people who have been staring at my naked butt for two years — first I want to come in and apologize, and second just commend them for all their hard work. It’s so much hard work making a game like that, a lot of hours, and you have to be really committed and really believe in what you’re doing. Watching Hideo with all of the people that he works with is pretty special, because he knows what every single person is doing. There’s 200, 300 people in a room, all behind monitors, and he knows what everyone is doing, and he can kind of do everybody’s job, and he can oversee what they’re doing at the same time. It takes a pretty well rounded genius to be able to do something like that. It was fascinating for me.
Q: You lived in Japan for awhile. Whats the one thing you think everyone should do in Japan?
A: Oh man, the cherry blossom festival for sure. They should meet my friend Kun, because Kun is the Mayor of Tokyo, basically. He knows all the cool things happening there. I’ve probably sent like 20 people to Kun, just like, “You going to Tokyo? Call this number.” And they all become best friends with him. There’s this place called Robot Restaurant which is really insane. It’s like the lights of Time Square shoved in one building, it’s really bananas. But yeah, Japan is endless. I would say Tokyo makes Manhattan look like Provo, Utah.
Q: And Costa Rica?
A: Costa Rica I fell in love with because of Andrew Lincoln. We’d go there on our break and he’d teach me how to surf. I was there with Steven Yeun when he proposed marriage. Costa Rica is one of my favorite places. I bought a house there just because I fell in love with it — the people, the country, the beaches, the pura vida way of life. It’s one of those blue zones, where people live longer and they’re happier and I totally get it.
A: Definitely. We’re actually trying to do something with wolves in [Season 5]. I’ve always been an advocate for saving the wolves, and I do a lot of charities for animal rescue and wildlife stuff. I love animals. I try not to eat them and I try to save them when I can.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories of your rides in Season 4?
A: Ryan [Hurst] and I were flying down the freeway in Japan, and it was his first time riding a Triumph Tiger. While we’re flying down the freeway, I said into his helmet, “You know, there’s a hidden seventh gear on the bike.” And he goes, “Really”? And I go, “Yeah, no one really knows about it but it’s a litte gear they snuck in there, where if you tap your brake pedal twice you can find a hidden seventh gear.” And then I could hear him behind me just, “Rrrrr, rrrrr; rrrrr, rrrrrr,” and he’s like, “Oh I think I found it!” So I just let him think he found it for a good 45 minutes before he pulls up next to me and is like, “There’s no seventh gear.” And I said, “Nah, there’s not.”
Q: Is there anything you can tease about Season 5?
A: Yeah, we’re in New Zealand with Josh Brolin, and there’s a scene on the beach where Josh, — one of my favorite scenes in the show we’ve ever shot — where we’re trying to dig holes in the sand and then fill them up with volcanic hot water. But something happens spontaneously while we were filming, and Josh is such a good improv actor, I kind of saw what he was doing and just sort of ran with it. It was hysterical, the whole crew was on the ground laughing.
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