Greg Nicotero, who has long served as special effects makeup guru and director-producer on The Walking Dead, is antsy for audiences to meet "terrifying" new enemy group The Whisperers and "chilling" leader Alpha (Samantha Morton).
"Listen, we have a lot of story to tell. I'll be really honest, the casting this season has been impeccable," Nicotero told Access. "All the new characters — it's been a joy to work with them. And you take one look at Samantha Morton as Alpha, and it's chilling. It's chilling."
Nicotero teased one scene revolving around the brutal villain acts as "one of the best scenes we shot all season."
"I left set and the I went back to the makeup effects trailer with my crew, and they were like, 'I can't wait to see this season.' My crew, the people that work on the show, are excited about it," he said.
"So all we can really hope is that mystery, that intrigue, the idea that there's this whole new threat coming — and it's terrifying. I want to get to it as quickly as we can to let people see how dedicated we are to making the show great and keeping the show great."
Rick Grimes actor Andrew Lincoln, who exited the series last Sunday, previewed Morton as Alpha during New York Comic Con, teasing the actress "scared the bejeezus out of all the crew."
"Someone was doing an impersonation of a scene that she did, and even that scared me," he said. "I was like, 'Oh my God, that's really scary.'"
Alpha will be joined by daughter Lydia (Cassady McClincy) and vicious number two Beta (Ryan Hurst), who is fiercely protective of both Alpha and his true face, which is always hidden behind a fleshy mask made of walker skin.
The Whisperers officially arrive Sunday as part of the first episode to follow the departure of Rick Grimes, whose "death" gave way to a six-year time jump. "Who Are You Now?" will detail the five newest characters to the show: Magna (Nadia Hilkes), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Connie (Lauren Ridloff), Kelly (Angel Theory), and Luke (Dan Fogler).
Nicotero elaborated on the newness surrounding the series in the wake of Lincoln's exit and the ensuing lengthy time jump with ComicBook.com's After the Dead, saying there's "so much great story coming up" and that even in its ninth season, The Walking Dead now "really just feels like a different show."
"And in a good way," Nicotero noted, "not in a way where we feel like there's a void that we have to fill."
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.