No amount of time can properly prepare fans for Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead which will see Carl Grimes succumb to a walker bite. Right there in the crowd of devastated faces is executive producer of the AMC show and the Mid-Season Eight premiere's director, Greg Nicotero.
Speaking to ComicBook.com in an exclusive interview, Nicotero opened up about saying goodbye to Carl Grimes and the 18-year-old Chandler Riggs who had been with the show since its earliest episode. "Listen, every single character death is different, every nuance and every moment," Nicotero said. "But when you're dealing with someone like Chandler who's been on the show from the beginning, from literally the end of the first episode, it was rough. I mean aside from one of our original cast members going, I think the idea that it was someone that we grew up with. He was eight years old or nine years old when we first started the show. He was a little kid. So it was pretty intense."
In fact, just watching the episode made Nicotero tear up a bit. "I think for me, mostly what I wanted to make sure was that these characters had an opportunity to acknowledge how Carl had interacted with them," Nicotero went on. "You think about Daryl, and you think about the people that had known him from the beginning, and I think that was really important."
"So it was rough," Nicotero added. "I mean, it's never easy, I'll tell you. It's never easy saying goodbye to people on the show."
Looking ahead, Nicotero knows the AMC show can never find in any character or actor what it did in Carl and Riggs. "You're never going to replace Carl," Nicotero said. "You can't replace these characters. You can create new characters, but you can never replace Lori, you can never replace Shane, you can never replace Glenn. Those characters, those people who they were, what the performers brought to them, those are unique to those characters and those people. And it would do them a disservice to just assume that, 'Oh! We're going to knock one off and then we'll just bring another one in.' It doesn't work that way."
Following The Walking Dead's Mid-Season Eight premiere on Sunday night, ComicBook.com's After the Dead will be live to recap Chandler Riggs' final episode with executive producer Greg Nicotero and more word from Riggs himself at 10:22 pm ET on ComicBook NOW's Facebook page and ComicBook.com Orginals' YouTube channel.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 pm ET on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead will debut its fourth season after The Walking Dead concludes its eighth, at 10 pm ET on April 15. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter.