‘The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus Teases “Gut-Wrenching, Terrifying” Season 9

The Walking Dead will be scarier and more emotionally honest than ever in Season Nine, says Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus.

“The whole show is being driven by women, we have all new women writers, actors, directors, a new showrunner, and it’s really put a different spin on the show,” Reedus told Extra at the Season Nine premiere in Los Angeles.

“It’s really heartfelt, it’s really dangerous — it’s a gut-wrenching, terrifying, really honest season. It’s been great.”

When showing the season premiere to its Atlanta crew — the first episode under the stewardship of new showrunner Angela Kang, who penned the season opener — “they all had beers in their hands and they were screaming at the television, so we know we’re on the right path,” Reedus said.

Daryl, long criticized for his grunts and lack of lines, gets a heftier storyline this season — but he’s still not stepping up to replace Rick Grimes, whose actor Andrew Lincoln departs the series early on this season.

“I talk a lot more than I did last season,” Reedus said. “I get a lot of stuff on the internet like, ‘You’re gonna be the new Rick Grimes.’ I’m not, I’m Daryl. I’m number 20 on the call sheet, I’m gonna stay number 20 on the call sheet.”

It’s not the first time Reedus shut down rumors he’ll be taking over as lead, and the star stressed Daryl isn’t the Rick Grimes type.

“I don’t think Daryl is ever the type of guy to build a podium and speak to a crowd of people, give an inspirational speech,” he said. “I’m still doing Daryl, I’m gonna keep it like that.”

Speaking to ComicBook.com ahead of the new season, Reedus said the show will instead emphasize its ensemble elements, elevating most of its longest-surviving characters in Rick’s absence.

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“Everybody on the show is gonna step up and elevate their game and fill that hole,” Reedus told us. “I don’t think there could be a new Rick. I know the internet’s like, ‘Screw Norman! Who does he think he is?’ I’ve just got to sit there go, ‘Oh, whatever.’ Everybody sort of steps up to the plate.”

The Walking Dead Season Nine premieres Sunday, October 7 on AMC.