Lauren Ridloff reveals it was Daryl Dixon actor Norman Reedus who first attracted her to The Walking Dead. Ridloff, who has played fan-favorite zombie apocalypse survivor Connie since Season 9, also recognizes the representation of "the real world and the diversity" of the hit AMC series now entering into the second half of its eleventh and final season. After racing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Makkari, Marvel's first deaf superhero, the Eternals star is speaking out about sending in an audition tape for a role on one of her favorite shows: The Walking Dead.
"Really what I think I liked most about the series in the beginning was Norman, his character Daryl. I mean, come on," Ridloff told Who What Wear. "But as I watched, I really love how they represent the real world and the diversity. It's there, and it's a part of the story, but it's not pushing. It's not driving the story. It's not the point. The point is about a group of people trying to survive and also trying to rediscover what it means to be human. I love that!"
She added: "I think that's why the series has been so successful and has impacted so many fans throughout the world because everyone has someone to connect with in this series. And because Daryl."
When The Walking Dead brought comic book characters Connie and Kelly into the television show, the zombie drama made them sisters — and the first characters to represent the Deaf community on the hit series.
"I love the fact that they just didn't stop with one deaf character. They brought in two. And I think it's a really good opportunity to show the spectrum of the Deaf community," Ridloff said. "We have Connie, who has been deaf since birth and never experienced the loss. But also, we have Kelly played by Angel Theory, and [Angel] in real life is experiencing hearing loss. I was with her as part of that journey in her life, and I think The Walking Dead ended up including that as part of her storyline, which is so powerful. I think The Walking Dead is brilliant."
Ridloff most recently headlined the Season 11 episode "On the Inside," sometimes told from her point of view without sound when The Ferals trap Connie and Virgil (Kevin Carroll) inside a house. It was Ridloff's first episode back after Connie went missing in Season 10 of The Walking Dead, showrunner Angela Kang's way of accommodating Ridloff's conflicting schedule with her role in Marvel's Eternals.
The Walking Dead returns with new episodes Sunday, February 20, on AMC. Eternals is now playing only in theaters.
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