Based on the Image Comics/Skybound comic book series of the same name by Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, The Walking Dead will launch its fourth season this October on AMC; last year it became the first cable series ever to post, over the course of its season, the best ratings of any show on TV including broadcast hits like The Big Bang Theory and NCIS.
The series is perhaps best known for its maxim that “no one is safe,” something we discuss a bit below.
Kirkman, along with the showrunner Scott Gimple and series villain David Morrissey (the Governor), joined us at the roundtable for a discussion on the upcoming season. You can check it out below, with reporters’ questions in bold and italic and the answers labeled by speaker.
You can also see our previous roundtable with Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira and Greg Nicotero here and our interview with Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and David Morrissey here. A conversation with Scott Wilson, Steven Yeun and Lauren Cohan is here.
Overall without getting into spoilers, what gets you charged up about this particular season?
Andrew Lincoln: I alwaays knew that it would be fresh and exciting just by the history of the last three years. They always seem to change it up; the show moves on becuase there's a cast change pretty reugualrly and there's a location change as well. It's sort of inherent in the nature of the show.
But when I read the first script I was really surprised and thrilled Selfishly and for personal reasons, where the put Rick at the beginning of the season is nowhere near what I anticipated and for that reason alone, I was very very happy.
Chad Coleman: Yeah, it's been really jaw-dropping, their commitment to Tyreese. Each and every script is just "Wow, wow, wow." There's so much more going on, as well.
Lincoln: Well, they put pressure on the group in a completely new way and they made the zombies terrifying again in one fell swoop. It's very smart and very exciting as well.
The last group mentioned the prison being a bit more civilized. Obviously you can't say a lot but what threats might you face this season?
Gale Anne Hurd: Well, those of you who saw the four-minute promo have a good idea that once again there's threats from within. There's human threats; it's a world in which the walkers predominate more than ever and they're pressing in upon them. They're not just out, one walker in a field somewhere; they're omnipresent and they're pretty ravenous and boy, does Greg Nicotero have some new tricks up his sleeve.
Lincoln: He showed me one zombie that I think is equally on par with the well zombie, which I thought was amazing a couple of seasons ago.
Hurd: And we're also very excited because Greg directed the season premiere this year.
Alpert: In "Clear," Scott came up with some really intricate defense mechanisms so you see how people are evolving their defenses and also how the zombie threat can still continue to overwhelm even when you've had more time.
Hurd: And Grace Walker, our production designer, he's done a remarkable job again this season.
Lincoln: In such short timeframes as well. He gets shown the scripts and these guys are magnificent--the locations they find, the detail. That's the thing that I loved about "Clear" as well was the detail in that design. It really helps us as actors as well to really walk into these--they're not sets, they're kind of environments.
Have you guys read the comics?
Coleman: I havne't read all of them. I've read some. I have a working knowledge of what has occurred for this character. I was told when I signed on, "This is the blueprint and the bible. We'll refer to it as we need to but this is also the television version so it's a whole new way to explore things. We may go here, we may go there, so just stay open, take the ride and let's keep talking and as we need you to reference that to be perfectly clear about a particular arc for the character..." That's the way it works for me.
How does the evolution of the zombies affect the dynamic of the group?
Lincoln: Very badly.
Coleman: Everything gets claustrophobic.
Lincoln: Yeah, the pressure from inside and outside is evenly matched.
If I can talk in riddles for the rest of the afternoon, I will do my level best.
What is it like to have such a close relationship with a talented young actor like Chandler Riggs?
Lincoln: Oh, it's been magnificent. It's a treat, man. I get to see this guy grow up in front of me.
I said at Comic-Con as well that his voice has dropped so now I need to drop my voice, as well. And he's got more hair than Steven Yeun on his top lip, so--he's growing up, this guy.
[Looks at Steven Yeun a few tables over] No, that's a joke. Don't quote me on that.
[Looks at the table covered with recording devices used by the press] Well, it's a done deal. [Laughs] Storry, Steven for that horrendous...
But he's a great guy and I love--there are certain relationships that you just look forward to when you see them in the course of reading the script and this is great because there is a burgeoning relationship here, which is fascinating.
[Lincoln indicates between himself and Coleman]
It's interesting having alpha males--three alpha males in a setup now and that's really quite a combustible mix. And also, three and a half. [Carl]'s a young man who's got different attitudes to his dad. That's what growing up is; its' about "I'm not you, however much you think it." It's about that wrestling match as well.
Hurd: And they don't get to grow up and go off to college, either!
Lincoln: I'm sure we'll find one.
A lot of shows when they have child actors, there are problems where the kids grow up too fast. How do you keep Carl--
Lincoln: You just threaten him with being bitten.
Hurd: It's interesting because I worked with Chandler actually before The Walking Dead; I did a film on Lifetime called The Wronged Man that starred Julia Ormond and Chandler played Julia's son. But he's been pretty cooperative and he's not taller than Andrew yet, so that's good. And we're planning those lifts in your shoes, okay?
Lincoln: I can't bear the fact that one day he's going to be just talking to me face to face like that. It's going to be great.
Hurd: Every season we're picking up a year. In the comic book, he hasn't grown very much.
Alpert: I think Charlie just likes to draw him the same size.
Hurd: But in the show it makes sense. We're going to be able to hopefully, should she stick around, do the same thing with baby Judith.
With the addition of the new group members, will there be any sort of power struggle?
Hurd: Look at the four-minute promo, pay very close attention and I think you'll be able to answer your own question.
Alpert: I think what you'll see in the season is that the power dynamics are going to be very different and sort of come at it from a different angle than you really expected. So the evolution of those power dynamics over the course of the season is one of the major things that we're going to be playing with this year.
Lincoln: I think in the scripts that I've read so far, you really understand the impact that this world is making on these people's psyches. I think that so much of the show has been kinetic and very much in the moment. Now it feels like there's still breathing space. You can really feel the impact of how it is psychologically changing a lot of these people which for me is a very interesting area to explore.