Q: We’re now 10 seasons into the show! What did it feel like going into the Season 10 Premiere – especially as a veteran of the show?
A: It felt so good. The show just gets stronger and stronger. We have a writing staff that’s constantly giving us new challenges and exploring these characters in different ways. It’s very empowering to know that you have that history behind you, and that legacy of all these actors and directors and writers and fans of the show. It’s much more comfortable than doing Season 1. [Laughs]
Q: What has it been like introducing the Whisperers to the show and playing with such an iconic element from the comics?
A: It’s really fascinating. It’s a whole different kind of bad guy on the show. The threats have mutated. It’s one thing to have to dispatch the dead, but when you have living people using the dead as a weapon and walking amongst them and you can’t tell who’s who – there’s a whole sense of paranoia that we’ve never addressed on the show. It’s almost like a spy thriller because you have so many elements and angles. It’s a very claustrophobic sort of feeling this year. It’s very sneaky and very different.
Go Inside the Season 10 Premiere With the Cast and Creators:
Q: 10 seasons in, of course you’ve seen your share of villains and their displays of power. How does Alpha stack up and what’s it been like playing with Samantha Morton?
A: I have a ton of scenes with her and she’s great to work with. She’s such a good actress and really thinks things through. Every move Alpha makes is very calculated. There’s no “posing” as the bad guy. She embraces this world and develops a very animalistic point of view. She likes the chaos and embraces the confusion. She thinks man has destroyed himself and the world. It’s very interesting watching her work. It’s just magnificent.
Q: Alpha has imposed a new border on the group and Daryl’s pretty intentional about respecting it and not starting anything unless he has to. What’s this dynamic like for him?
A: The old crew of this show and the old Daryl of the show would have just ripped those borders apart, but this new group is scared. It’s not like Daryl, Rick and Shane are going to go bust through the walls and take people out. As Daryl, I’m put in a position of protection. I have to make the smarter plays and if it means we don’t cross the border so that we get to live in peace, then that’s the new Daryl. He’s a different type of a guy now. He has to be the cooler head. He’s cleaning up messes. Carol is also a different Carol this year. She’s suffered so much heartache and loss. She just wants to fight, which is not helping Daryl keep the peace.
Q: The group has been organizing themselves into a militia-style fighting force. How did you enjoy filming those training scenes on the beach?
A: It was a ton of choreography and a ton of references to old Roman fighting style. It was so hot. That beach was like 112 degrees. Thank god I wasn’t clad in leather and steel. It was really wild to be filming on an ocean, too. We’ve been in the woods, so it was a different energy and look. It was really just epic and it was a sense of empowerment. How long that sense of empowerment will keep our chins up is yet to be seen, but it was fun. [Laughs]
Q: Daryl uses sign language with Connie in the Season Premiere. What’s it been like working with Lauren Ridloff?
A: It’s been really great. I think Daryl looks at Connie as someone who can hold her own. She’s a capable fighter and she’s got a cool head about her. He respects her. Daryl learning sign language is really cool, I think. There are a lot of shortcuts and Daryl definitely uses that. He doesn’t really spell out words. There are certain gestures that mean things as a whole. He probably doesn’t want to sit down and have a 45-minute conversation with anyone anyway. He’s messing up, but she’s having patience. Behind the scenes, I definitely spelled some things wrong. It’s been fun. I like that he’s making the effort to communicate.
Q: You and Melissa McBride share a beautiful episode and journey together on RIDE. Did that deepen your friendship even more? Did it carry over onto the show?
A: Melissa and I have such a deep understanding and respect for each other. It’s not a lot of effort for us to connect via words or looks. It’s a very fluid and natural and honest exchange, every time, between the two of us. The RIDE episode we did in Scotland, we actually came up with that idea while we were shooting the [Walking Dead] finale two years ago. She went to get a motorcycle license, but we couldn’t ride because the weather was so bad out there. We still went in a car and it was super cool and a beautiful episode. It brought us closer together.
Q: How have you enjoyed having your canine co-star, Seven, around on set with you?
A: I love that dog! He’s really taken to me. He knows who I am and immediately makes a bee line for me. I have a lot of scratches on my chest from him jumping up and giving me hugs. He’s so cute. I just love it. He’s the smartest cast member on the show. [Laughs]
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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