The second half of The Walking Dead Season 4 promises to be drastically different from what we saw in the first half, with new locations, new characters, and new threats. I thought it would be the perfect time to catch up with Gale Anne Hurd, who talked about wrapping up the prison story, teased what's ahead, and told me where they're at with Season 5 development:
I think it would have been very easy to have continued The Governor and prison story over the entire fourth season, but you guys really mixed it up. Was it always the plan to end The Governor’s story in the middle of Season 4?
Gale Anne Hurd: Scott Gimple, who is the showrunner now and will be the showrunner for Season 5, had a very clear plan from the beginning. He didn’t make this up as he went along. He really felt that eight episodes were enough to tell the prison story and set up The Governor. He really wanted to have an exclamation point before he started the final eight episodes. It is a zombie apocalypse and there is going to be darkness, death, and pain. At the same time, there’s always hope and that’s the fine line that we try to balance.
I really enjoyed that The Governor episodes this season were able to remain faithful to the comic book series, while still keeping it fresh for those that have read it.
Gale Anne Hurd: Before Scott Gimple was a writer of the show, he was a fanatical fan of the comic book. Robert Kirkman pushes him. Faithfulness is great, but this is a different medium, so between the two of them, I think they’ve crafted something very special this season.
When you and I talked at the start of Season 4, you mentioned that Chandler could carry his own episode at this point. In Episode 409, a good bit of the episode rests on his shoulders. Can you tell me about your experience with him and watching him grow as an actor over the four seasons?
Gale Anne Hurd: My first experience with him was on a TV movie where he played Julia Ormand’s son and he impressed me then. I’ve been watching his craft grow and there’s not one person who looks at him as a child actor. He’s their equal and he has so much to show. The hardest part of acting is when the camera is just on you and you have to take the audience through this range of emotions. They have to buy into the decisions you make or don’t make.
Another person who continues to impress me is Greg Nicotero, not only for the makeup work, but his increased presence as a director on The Walking Dead. What do you think is his greatest strength as a director?
Gale Anne Hurd: What he has is an empathy for his fellow man. Every time he creates a makeup, whether creature or person, he’s creating something with a backstory. That’s the reason his makeup is so much better than many of his peers. He creates people and characters that have lived in his mind.
When he interacts with the cast, he’s not only doing it from a technical perspective. He’s doing it from a deeply rooted understanding of the human condition. He relates to the actors from an actor’s level. It really allows him to mine the characters, the situations, and complexities of the drama.
It has been announced that comic book favorites Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita will be appearing before the end of Season 4? As a fan of the comic book series, how excited are you for them and what can you tease about their appearance?
Gale Anne Hurd: The great thing about the characters in the comic book is that they are a very unlikely trio. None of them are like anyone we’ve encountered before. Of course, that’s a credit to Robert and the writers that bring them to life on the show. They have their own quirks for sure, and, once again, we have fantastic actors to bring them to life. There are elements within them that are true to the comic book, but there’s also something fresh that we haven’t had before on the show. I can’t say what it is, because I don’t want to give it away [laughs].
Everything happens for a reason and every little choice, even if it seems a little odd, will pay off by the end of the season.
In the first half of Season 4, the big threats were The Governor and disease. What would you say is the big threat of the second half?
Gale Anne Hurd: Part of what they face is that they are now on their own. The core group from which they draw their strength is now completely broken up. How are they going to deal with being on their own again? How are they going to deal with the death of someone as beloved as Hershel? There’s this sense of loss and how they will cope with that loss.
There’s also being out in the open again, without supplies, ammunition, and the walls of the prison. They are very vulnerable and now they are exposed, not only to walkers, but humans that are out there. Some of them will not be evil intentioned, but others might be.
With Season 4 out of the way, how far into Season 5 development is everyone?
Gale Anne Hurd: The writer’s room just started up on Season 5. It’s crazy, because we literally work 12 months a year. We just finished mixing Episode 416 last Friday and we’re sitting down with the writers to talk about Season 5 this week. It’s the hardest working group that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with.
We still have more surprises, leading up to the return of The Walking Dead Season 4, so check back soon. Until then, catch up on our recent coverage by visiting the following link: