‘The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus on Daryl’s Growing Leadership Role

Daryl Dixon isn’t replacing Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) on The Walking Dead, but growing responsibilities at the Hilltop and an emerging new threat are forcing the reclusive woodsman to step up.

“When Rick left, when Andy left, I think the first thing I did was I called [showrunner] Angela [Kang] and I was like, you know, Daryl’s not the type of guy that’s gonna build a soapbox and get up and speak to a room full of people and give ‘em some inspirational speech,” Reedus said on Talking Dead Sunday when asked about Daryl’s evolution.

“But now he’s kind of found himself — he lived outside of the group, now he’s back into the group, he’s finding himself having to step up and sort of take leadership roles, which I think he’s a bit reluctant, you know.”

Already tasked with keeping a watchful eye on Henry (Matt Lintz) by longtime close friend Carol (Melissa McBride), Daryl has since been urged by Michonne (Danai Gurira) to help guide a fledgling Tara (Alanna Masterson) as she inherits leadership duties following the death of interim leader Jesus (Tom Payne).

Asked by host Chris Hardwick about Daryl’s biggest change since Season One, Reedus joked, “I mean, he’s still filthy.”

“The biggest difference I think is he’s trying to find himself within this group,” Reedus added.

“There’s this whole Whisperers thing that’s happening, and Carol’s asked him to do something which has brought him into the middle of this group, and he doesn’t want to get a spanking from Carol so he’s trying to play nice.”

Kang previously told Rotten Tomatoes Daryl will be forced into his own unique leadership role as the survivors become embroiled in the coming Whisperer war.

“We’ve seen Rick give a fair number of speeches over the years. He is good as a charismatic leader who’s able to rally the troops. Daryl knows himself, and he knows he is not that type of leader, nor does he aspire to be,” Kang said.

“It’s part of his arc for the season, as people look to him more and more as a leader in certain situations. It’s something he struggles with, because he doesn’t feel like he’s a person who likes to give speeches. He’s a person who likes to be out there on the road, in action.

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“But that in and of itself is a different type of leadership. He’s going to find what it is that he’s comfortable with and go forward with that.”

The Walking Dead airs Sundays on AMC.