The dead are once again walking! AMC's hit series has finally returned from its midseason break and chaos ensued in Alexandria.
Over the weekend, we had the chance to speak with The Walking Dead's executive producer Gale Anne Hurd, one of the few remaining folks who have been a part of the series since its 2010 debut. Given her wealth of knowledge about the series, Hurd is a great place to hear about things to come in the second half The Walking Dead's sixth season, but also where the series will go beyond it's April 3 finale.
In the interview below, we talk about the big moments in The Walking Dead's midseason 6 premiere, Daryl's return to Alexandria, Negan's introduction, and more. Be warned, the interview does contain spoilers for fans who have not yet watched the latest episode of the sixth season (6x09, "No Way Out").
CB: We're approaching a big point in The Walking Dead, when you look at its comic book parallel. What can you say about the future of the show and how it will grow, starting with these next eight episodes?
GAH: I think that the key art for the mid-season premiere says it all. "Larger world." The world is expanding, which is pretty epic in scope. Also because we'll be introducing a lot of new characters. That means that there are potential new alliances and, as we all know, potential for some pretty incredible villains.
Do you ever get worried that it might get too big? The way Kirkman writes these comics, you think you might run into something that could be too challenging to portray on TV?
Well, since you haven't seen the rest of the season yet and I have, I would have to say no. The challenge, which, knock on wood, I think we succeeded in is to make sure that we never lose sight of the fact that it's a character driven show. The reason we have such committed viewers is because they connect with the characters. We never want the show to feel so big that the characters are lost.
You're saying we'll see a tiger next season.
Pardon? Ah, a tiger. Very funny. Good, old Ezekiel.
Oh, man. That's going to be interesting. I can't wait to see how you guys do that. We haven't even started the writer's room, so we don't. We have no idea what stories we're telling next season.
Obviously, the big thing recently has been Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Negan. Been talking about it all season. I know you can't say much about the character but can you say how closely to the comics, personality-wise and charisma-wise is Morgan's portrayal?
You've read the comics obviously, and you're familiar with Jeffrey Dean Morgan's work. I don't think that there is an actor out there who is more right to bring Negan to life than Jeffrey Dean Morgan. In social media, I've seen people do a face, half of the comic book Negan character and the other half Jeffrey Dean Morgan's face ...
If we were just going by someone who looks and is already that commanding, Jeffrey Dean Morgan would be perfect, but he brings the acting chops, the charm and the charisma that Negan has to have.
Negan's introduction in the comics was one of the most impactful moments of the entire series and, as a result, all Walking Dead fans are very familiar with it. Was changing it ever something you guys considered? Drastically changing it?
We've been known to change things. We reserve the right to change things. It has got to serve our story and our characters. Obviously, just by virtue of the fact that we've got a character like Daryl who isn't in the comic books, that changes things. The fact that there are characters alive who were dead in the comics and vice versa, that changes that dynamic. We are travelling this alternate pathway, but at the same time, it's absolutely critical to all of us that we celebrate the comic book without which we wouldn't be able to make the show.
In Sunday's episode, you guys really went for it and followed the comics with some big moments, obviously. Will there be any moments for the rest of the season that top how shocking this was, with Carl getting shot and Jessie getting killed? Will it be topped, you think, this season?
What was Chandler's reaction like, to that big moment when he got that script and when you guys showed up to shoot it?
It's one of those things where if you're an actor in the show and you're familiar with the comic book and there's the moment of iconic and life changing in the comic book, you're always wondering when it's going to happen. It's obviously a big one and one that he was pretty enthusiastic about provided we did it right, which I think you agree, we did.
Finally, in this episode, Daryl gets back to Alexandria. He's been separated for almost the entire season from the group that we've come to know. Are we going to see more Daryl and more ... I mean, he had one of the most bad-ass moments, too, with that rocket launcher. More Daryl and maybe Daryl and Rick in the second half?
I can't talk about where things go, but I think Scott Gimple has said there's going to be plenty of Daryl in this part of the season and I can second that.
What about Morgan and Carol? What is their relationship going to be like going forward?
Complicated. As you've seen in this episode. They've had very divergent philosophies that are colliding right now. It'll effect both of them.
Finally, before I let you go, this is a little bit of a topic change. You produced the Punisher movie and obviously worked with Jon Bernthal for years. I know you guys are like a big family. How do you think he's going to do you think he'll do as Frank Castle on Daredevil's second season?
Oh, man. I can't imagine a better Frank Castle, to bring the Punisher to life on Netflix. I just can't. I saw John while he was shooting last year, and he's an incredibly committed actor. He's able to find the sort of darkness that Frank Castle needs. Depending on who was drawing Frank Castle at the time, he also can look very much like some of the Frank Castles. I love the Garth Ennis version and I haven't read the script so I'm not quite sure where they're going, but I know in terms of that dark, grounded and gritty Frank Castle that no one is better.
I really appreciate you taking the time. How do you find the time to do everything that you do?
I have no personal life.
Well, I appreciate it because you make my life a hell of a lot more entertaining.
Well, thank you for that, and I hope it continues to be the case. I hope you like the upcoming shows Hunters for Syfy and Falling Water on USA that will be debuting later this year.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 PM ET on AMC.