When The Walking Dead began production on its seventh season, the cast and crew were subjected to creating one of the most intense and brutal sequences of the entire series. Glenn and Abraham were brutally murdered and the cast had to bid farewell to beloved co-stars.
Returning for Season 8 is a different story.
The cast and crew are more excited than ever for the season which is on the horizon. Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln has said so himself. Now, executive producer Denise Huth is sharing her excitement for the Season 8 premiere, which happens to be Episode 100 overall and is wrapping up production in Georgia.
"Oh, gosh, it’s like night and day compared to how we had to start last year," Huth told EW. "They all came back so super excited and it’s a big year. These episodes are coming in huge. It’s a lot of work. It’s just as hard as it’s ever been, if not harder. There’s just a sense of excitement because the characters aren’t in that dark, down place. It was really hard last year. It was hard for the cast, it was hard for the crew, it was hard for all of us. It was a really essential part of the story, and I think we needed to go through that pain to have what we’re doing now be so satisfying. If everything we are doing now had happened in the third or fourth episode last year, it would still be cool, but it wouldn’t have the impact now because we’ve all had to trudge through the mud to get here. So it’s great."
"The energy is just incredible with the cast being together, and for a lot of these actors, it’s the first time or one of the first times they’re having the opportunity to work together because they were so split up last year. So it is exciting for us to integrate a lot of the newer characters with the OGs and see them all come together and take on this one challenge that they share. It makes it a really, really exciting way to begin a season."
Adding to those differences: the amount of action.
Season 7's premiere was not exactly action-packed. Two characters were killed with a bat and Rick and Negan killed a handful of zombies but there was not really any intense combat. There were no battles.
Season 8 is going to capture All Out War at its finest: action-packed.
"It’s a ton of action," Huth said. "It’s super exciting. I think it will be really, really satisfying. As a fan of the show — and I am a fan of the show — when I read it, it was like 'Awww, I can’t wait! It’s going to be great!' It’s worth the worth the wait to get to this moment."
The war kicked off with the Season 7 finale, as the Saviors were chased out of Alexandria in the first battle between the communities.
Currently sitting at a point closely equivalent to issue #115 of The Walking Dead comics, the AMC series runs the constant question of whether or not it will catch up to the still-in-print source material. Huth is not worried, though.
"There’s no telling with Scott and the writers and the things that they’ll pull," Huth said. "I don’t think we will really, totally catch-up. I think [comic creator Robert Kirkman] will always stay ahead of us, and Scott likes to take a lot of detours. So we always have that roadmap to follow and we know generally where we going to get to, but he introduces a lot of things that don’t exist in the comics, like the Scavengers and Heaps, and finds a way to integrate those elements into Robert’s existing story. People ask me all the time how long the show’s going to go. I have no idea. But Robert is nowhere near done with the books so I think it would be quite some time before we were in danger of catching up to him.
As fate would have it, The Walking Dead's Season 8 premiere also serves as the 100th episode. Huth says the team crunched the numbers to realize this would be the case while working on Season 6 but still can't approach it too differently than any other episode.
"It’s kind of surreal in a way," Huth said. "Back when we started, we never imagined we’d make it to 100 episodes. It seemed like such a far-off goal, it was hard to even contemplate at that time — we just wanted a second season. It’s a huge compliment, the fact that we’ve been able to grow the story and grow the show and very year it gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger. This year, that’s certainly the case as well. And add on top of it that our season premiere for Season 8 happens to be the 100th episode, it makes it a really exciting way to come back. The energy here is really good. Everybody is super-pumped up and it’s particularly exciting coming off of last year where the season premiere last year was a total 180 energy-wise. It was really tough way to start the season and this year is a really exciting way to start."
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The Walking Dead will return for its eighth season in October of 2017. The first trailer is expected to arrive at San Diego Comic Con in July. For complete coverage and insider info all off-season long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.