Chandler Riggs, who plays Carl Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead, talks about pretending to hate Jeffrey Dean Morgan and what it will take to succeed in an uprising against the Saviors.
Q: We’ve watched Carl grow up on the screen. How would you describe your character’s evolution up until now?
A: Carl has experienced a lot throughout the entire series. He’s gone through waves of being like a psychopath… I think he’s handling the situation pretty well, in my opinion. Some people were hating on him for going to the Sanctuary to try to pick out Negan, but I think any other kid might try to do that if they were in the same situation. He’s just fed up with people telling him what to do, taking his stuff and not standing by their word. I think that episode really showed how much Carl has changed since Season 1.
Q: Carl and Negan’s dynamic is very interesting. What was it like working with Jeffrey Dean Morgan to create it?
A: Jeffrey is really awesome. He’s such a fun guy to work, and he’s so easy to work with. He’s such a good actor, and you can just bounce the emotions right back at him. He’s super energetic and is always really encouraging and excited to be there every day. He’s such a cool guy, and I have to hate him. It’s annoying! [Laughs] It’s really cool having him on set.
[In Episode 707], I was terrified to sing on camera, so I tried to cry through it and make it sound as broken as possible so that you couldn’t hear how bad my singing really is. I’m a big fan of the comics – Robert Kirkman does an awesome job – so I kind of saw it coming, but I didn’t think we would actually go through with that entire scene… It was really cool to play that out in real life.
Q: The arrival of the Saviors seems to have had opposite effects on Carl and Rick. How has Negan’s presence directly affected Carl and Rick’s father-son relationship?
A: I think it split them, for sure. Negan broke Rick completely, but he didn’t break Carl at all. Throughout the season, you can see Carl’s disagreements with Rick and his decisions, and his defiance towards Negan even after he takes all of the guns. Once Rick starts to lean more towards Carl, Michonne and Rosita’s sides of things, I think Carl’s definitely going to come around too.
Q: With all that Negan has done, how eager are you for the group to fight back?
A: I know Andy [Lincoln] was so tired of being on his knees and having to submit to Jeffrey the whole season, so I know he was super excited. [Laughs] It wasn’t that big of a change for me, but it was nice having everyone back to fight against the Saviors as one unit.
Q: What about Carl and Enid’s budding romance? What do you think they see in each other?
A: I think they’ve gone through a lot of the same stuff. She’s lost both of her parents and everyone she’s ever known. I think Carl can relate a lot to her even though his situation hasn’t been as severe as that. They also both want the same thing: for Negan to be gone.
Q: What was it like filming that Mid-Season Premiere herd scene on the road with the tripwire and cars? Any interesting behind-the-scenes stories to share?
A: I remember being so hot that day. We were always looking for shade. It was so bad, actually, because when Alanna [Masterson] and I had to push the cars into place. For the first few takes, they told Christian [Serratos] not to apply any gas, so she was just in neutral. It probably didn’t look like much of an uphill thing, but it was uphill and it was so heavy and it was so hot. They had to put sticky moleskin on our hands so we wouldn’t get burned, but it literally just melted right off my hands. I got such a workout that day!
Q: Rick and the group finally get to meet Shiva and King Ezekiel, who also has reservations about going against Negan. Are the survivors in over their head in trying to unite these communities?
A: I think it’s a numbers game. It’s obvious that the Saviors have a lot more people under their control than just three communities. So, the influence is really big, and they’re obviously willing to shut down any sign of defiance in any group, but the more Negan takes from them and the more the Saviors abuse these communities, I think the more lenient and willing they’ll become to join Rick and fight.
Read an interview with Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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