What were Gale Anne Hurd's favorite on-set memories from The Walking Dead Season 3? What can we expect from the fourth season and beyond? We talked about this and more in a recent interview I conducted with The Walking Dead's executive producer shortly after the Season 3 finale aired:
We saw some pretty big and surprising character deaths this season. Having worked with some of these actors from the very beginning, is it as difficult for you to see them go as it is fans of the series?
Gale Anne Hurd: It's terribly difficult. It's such a close-knit group of people. Since we cast these actors, it's been very tough on all of us who have been there from the beginning. But the show, like the comic book, loses some very important characters along the way.
In terms of scale, Season 3 is a big set up from the second season. The first Season 3 episode, in particular, seemed like a hugely ambitious episode. Did your experience on feature films help in this regard?
Gale Anne Hurd: All of us involved have a lot of feature experience, including our line producer, Tom Luse. As with everything on the show, it's a group effort. We tend to be very optimistic about what we can achieve and we'd rather go for it than regret it later on. Luckily AMC trusts us enough and they let us dive right in.
Looking back at Season 3 as a whole, what are some of your favorite on-set memories?
Gale Anne Hurd: I think the first time the cast arrived on the prison set will always be embedded in my mind. We told them by phone or email that we were transforming the studio where we were based into the prison set, but they just couldn't imagine it. Then we walked them through the prison set, created by Grace Walker, and they were blown away. You felt like you were transported to an actual prison location and I'll never forget that. They were probably fairly dubious that it would work, but it worked out perfectly.
I also think being on set when Hershel's leg was chopped off was one of those things that I'll never forget... [Laughs]
Scott M. Gimple has been announced as The Walking Dead Season 4's showrunner. I felt that his episodes in Season 3, including Clear, had some of the better character scenes. Why are you excited to have him as the new showrunner?
Gale Anne Hurd: Scott is someone that we're all very lucky to be working with, and I think we would all feel a lot less comfortable with Glen moving on if Scott wasn't there to fill his shoes. Scott is a genre fan, as I am, going back to his childhood. He likes elevated genre, character drive genre, and is always looking for a scene that resonates with the characters. He wrote the episode with Sofia coming out of the barn, and "Clear," where we see the return of Morgan and also see Michonne open up.
At the same time, he's not afraid to do things that are incredibly traumatic for the character, like everyone reacting to Sofia coming out of the barn, and Rick having to shoot her down. So much of episode 12 takes place in Morgan's apartment, but I don't think anyone said it was too slow. There was the fantastic threat of the zombies at the cafe when they go to retrieve the photograph.
In recent interviews, you mentioned that the zombies will be a bigger threat in the upcoming season. Can you tell me more about what we can expect?
Gale Anne Hurd: Looking back at the season, as we always do before the start of the new season, it's important to see what this world is that we've created and how it's affecting our characters. We've come to realize that, yes the theme of the season was "fight the dead, fear the living," but we got to the point where the dead didn't seem to be a group we needed to fear. Truly they are and we need to make sure we don't lose sight of the threat that they will pose.
When we talked before the start of Season 3, I mentioned that Glen Mazzara had a seven season outline planned, and you said that you thought it wasn't nearly enough to cover all the material. Of course, nothing is set in stone for anything beyond Season 4, but would you like to see the show continue indefinitely with a rotating cast of characters over the years?
Gale Anne Hurd: As long as Robert Kirkman continues to outdo himself with the comics. He's over 100 issues now, so I'm not really worried at all. Because we have an ensemble cast, there's so many different character stories. Since you're a fan of the comic, think about characters like Negan, Abraham, and the various preachers. There's so much to explore that I think we're bound to mine that rich deposit of characters and stories for many years to come. I think Robert feels the same way.
But we don't want to do it if we can't keep it fresh, exciting and character driven. Our cast is just as committed going into Season 4, which we start shooting next month, as they were when they started. Probably more so...
The Walking Dead Season 4 begins filming in May and we should have much more information at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con in July. Catch up on our recent coverage by visiting the following links: