The Walking Dead chief content officer and executive producer Scott Gimple once fought to keep Carol (Melissa McBride) when talks during Season Three pointed to the grieving mother “going away.”
“I was dead set against it, because I thought it would be a great story to see a person who came from abuse become the hero and not in an easy way, that she herself had to struggle with the power that she found,” Gimple said during the AMC Networks summit.
“And that is I think Carol’s great story is that she found that she was strong, she found she had this superpower, but then it wouldn’t be easy. It wasn’t happy ever after after that, that she had responsibility and there was a weight to that strength that she found.”
Gimple was serving as writer-producer on the series under then-showrunner Glen Mazzara, who once notified McBride Carol was to be killed off just episodes into the third season.
Those plans changed when it was decided T-Dog (IronE Singleton) would make a sacrifice play rescuing Carol in 304, “Killer Within,” perishing from a walker attack when the group’s prison base was infiltrated by the undead.
“Personally, it’s been so important to me to see her become strong. It’s really hard for me to talk about that aspect of her without getting just boiled up inside because I know people like her that didn’t make it,” added an emotional McBride, whose Carol evolved from battered housewife to bow-wielding queen.
“So that aspect has always been very important to me. But yes, empathy, you need more of that. I would love to see a day when this doesn’t happen. These, by the way, are good tears because it’s important and it was a good thing what’s happened to Carol.”
Carol has since suffered the loss of adopted son Henry (Matt Lintz), who was abducted and then decapitated by Whisperer leader Alpha (Samantha Morton). The death proved so devastating it caused Carol and husband Ezekiel (Khary Payton) to split, but the “Carzekiel” fairy tale romance could return in the future.
For now, playing Carol is “such a wonderful thing,” McBride added. “And there’s some great storytelling with this character, who has just brought herself up and risen to the occasion to do what she needs to do to survive and to help the people that she cares about also survive. So it’s been pretty amazing.”
McBride and Daryl Dixon star Norman Reedus are now the longest-running Walking Dead stars, both with the series since its third episode in Season One. In November, the stars renewed their contracts and inked massive three-year deals.
The Walking Dead Season Ten is due out this fall on AMC.
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