The Walking Dead returns on Sunday and we have a number of special features planned, including interviews, early episode reviews, and contests. To kick things off, I spoke with Norman Reedus earlier this week to discuss Season 4. Not only does he provide details on what we can expect from Daryl at the opening of Season 4, but we talk about Daryl's relationship with Carol, creative changes, and how he stays in shape:
Can you tell our readers about where Daryl is at the start of Season 4? To some of the new survivors that have moved into the prison, Daryl and some of the original group are these larger than life figures.
Norman Reedus: He’s definitely a different guy than he was at the beginning of the show. They pitched to me more of a leadership role this season and it kind of took me a minute to swallow that because he’s not Rick and he doesn’t want to be Rick. He’s does what he does to keep the camp safe, but he’s not that guy. He always has Rick’s back, because Rick is the brother that Merle wasn’t in many ways. He’s a leader like that. He’s sort of a soldier and he doesn’t want the attention of people.
In the first season, Daryl didn’t want to look you in the face and he was kind of ashamed of who he was and assumed everyone looked down on him. In this season, Daryl says everything to your face and means everything he says. There’s a level of confidence he’s gained and he found his sense of self worth through these people.
You previously mentioned that it was proposed early on that Daryl was a drug addict, you were opposed to it, and it never made it into the show. When it came to Season 4, did you have a lot of input on the direction that Daryl takes?
Norman Reedus: Back then, we were developing this character and they let me run with it a bit. I was super appreciative that they let me be a part of that process. They know the characters the best now and we’re really on the same page more now than ever. We know what our characters need to go through and this is one of those shows where life sucks and people are trying to hold on to who they were. It’s your time to be who you want to be. Everyone is infected and your clock is ticking. You have those moments of badass stuff, but there’s a lot of strength playing these characters full of fear. There’s a whole lot of that this season and there are characters that you’d never expect to fight and there are other characters that just crumble.
Fans are waiting to see what happens with Carol and Daryl’s relationship, and there are a few interesting moments between them in the first two episodes. Can you give our readers a little tease of their relationship in Season 4? Do you think it’s possible for them to have a real romantic relationship in this zombie-infested world?
Norman Reedus: It’s definitely possible, but I can’t tell you whether it does or doesn’t happen. Their characters are similar in some ways and they really care for each other. Damaged people gravitate to damaged people and there’s definitely that element to it. Having lost so much, they’ve become fighters on the other end. I like playing these awkward moments in between that build relationships. I don’t ever want to play that character that grabs the girl and has my way with her. That’s just not who that character is. If Daryl falls in love with you, he’s going to love you for the rest of his life.
From talking with other members of the cast, especially Andrew Lincoln and Laurie Holden, it sounds like the show is very physically demanding. What do you do to keep in shape and take on the role of Daryl Dixon every day?
Norman Reedus: I think it would be ridiculous if I took off my shirt and had a six pack. That isn’t Daryl, so I’m going lean and mean. I’m going more cheetah and less gorilla. I want to play it like it’s real. That crossbow is forty five pounds and I’m constantly lifting it up and down, so my arm is always getting a good workout. I swim a lot and try to run what I can, but we’re on set running all the time on the show. Just being on the show is probably the best workout and weight loss program you could have.
Thanks for taking the time to talk Season 4 with me. To wrap things up, can you give our readers a little tease of what’s ahead?
Norman Reedus: This season is different. It has everything the first three seasons has, but it breaths a little differently. You really get to see why some characters stand up and fight and why others crumble. You really get to know them and it’s a heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching, and terrifying season. I can’t wait ‘til people see what’s next. It keeps getting crazier and crazier.
This is just the start of our special features for The Walking Dead Season 4, so be on the lookout for more exclusive content over the next three days. Until then, check out our previous coverage by visiting the following links: