Earlier this week, I took part in an interview session with Andrew Lincoln and Gale Anne Hurd to discuss the second episode of The Walking Dead Season 3. In the first of a two-part feature, Andrew Lincoln talks about Rick's changes between the second and third season, working with Norman Reedus, and the physical demands of the role:
What can you tell us about Rick's humanity at this point in Season 3 and the decision he made with the prisoners toward the end of episode 2?
Andrew Lincoln: I think his humanity is pretty intact, but his ruthlessness or decision making has very much moved into a Shane point of view. There is an uncompromising nature that has happened over time to Rick. The other thing to bear in mind is that he is the most isolated, even within his group and in his relationship with everybody in the group, especially his wife.
So I don't think he is in the most stable. Certainly when I was playing it, I wanted it to be an instantaneous, almost Pavlovian, reaction to this situation. In Season 1 and Season 2, certainly I think he wouldn't have been so quick to make that judgment call.
The moral ambiguity in the show is the most interesting part for me, certainly as an actor because in any other world, in any other situation that wasn't hell, you wouldn't make these judgment calls or you wouldn't be pushed into this corner.
And the thing that helps sell it as a justified decision is that fact that he always has the group's safety certainly as a priority. So it is a sort of selfless act even though it is incredibly brutal.
With the flash forward in time at the start of the Season 3, did the cast or writers come up with details for what happened in the months between seasons?
Andrew Lincoln: It's very much down to the discretion of the actor playing the part, but certainly Sarah and I spoke at length, and we also spoke with Chandler. Everybody came around to my house, we had dinner, and we just talked through what had happened so we're all on the same page.
[For the Season 3 premiere intro] I was very keen to sort of set up a ritual that we'd worked out in those intervening months. Daryl is the person that chooses the place that's safe, I get out, I pace 15 steps and my son joins me, because he's the youngest and he's got the best ears and the best eyesight. Emily, who's the second youngest she goes to the back because she's got the best eyes and ears and I just wanted little things like that that we developed over time.
Also, certainly a lot of our skills developed, because the walkers have slowed down and we were able to navigate the winter months a lot better. We made a decision that we all found a place to hunker down for the coldest part of the winter.
There's lots and lots of other details, but that's a very vague approximation of what we spoke about. As an actor, it's my job to fill in the gaps and fill in the spaces.
Rick and Daryl are much closer at the start of the new season than they were at the end of Season 2. Can you tell us about working with Norman Reedus to develop this relationship?
Andrew Lincoln: Norman is this incredibly gifted instinctive actor. I always say that he went to cool school because everything he does is kind of intrinsically cool. He's also a very fluid actor and I wanted it to appear that there was always this common understanding and signaling because he's a tracker as well.
Everything is unspoken and he's on point; he is definitely the wingman. Rick is also smart enough to realize that [Daryl] is probably the strongest warrior in the group at the moment. I wanted there to be a real brotherly relationship, but they're both men that aren't particularly good at articulating their [feelings].
I kind of love that it's an old-fashioned sort of alpha male thing whereas Shane and Rick were brothers and knew each other and had history. These two guys don't, but there is an incredible mutual respect between the two of them.
I think out of everybody else Daryl is the one that understands the burden of responsibility that Rick chooses to carry and respects that more than anybody else in the group than perhaps Lori.
Whenever you see us swinging, going around the corridors, tracking, and the nods, everything was talked about because I said it has to look like there is this unspoken knowledge because that's how we survive.
We would have learned that around the campfire talking about planning things, the whole leg coming off - we talked about it. You know, we talked about it around the campfire. That's why it's instantaneous - it was the decision that was made two months ago. You don't need to know that as an audience member but we enjoy doing that as actors, you know, and that's what we played.
Compared to the second season, Season 3 appears to be more physically demanding? What kind of challenges did that present during filming? Andrew, do you enjoy the break that killing zombies or humans provides from some of the more intense character scenes?
Gale Anne Hurd: This season is intense and pedal to the metal. The world is infested with more zombies and there's more risk to our survivors now that they've left the farm.
Two things come into play: The first is that we have a very large ensemble cast and there are scenes this season in which they work together as a unit as we've seen both in the first episode and the second episode. That requires a lot of choreography of the stunt work. Unlike a lot of other TV shows, the actors are very infrequently doubled, so it's very careful work.
They're working with Russell Towery, who's our stunt coordinator. On a TV series you don't have a lot of time to prepare so it's intense. We make it as safe as possible, but it's incredibly physically demanding.
Often these sequences, unlike in a lot of films that I've done where you isolate a particular action beat, run rather continuously, which is even more demanding and the bar's even higher.
Andrew Lincoln: Yeah, that's exactly what it's like. We have multiple cameras, we play out scenes and go into fight sequences and then continue. So we try and make it as fluid as possible, which gives it the energy and certainly helps playing the scenes.
A lot of preparation for me is the physical part. It is sort of a great way of inhabiting the role because there's nothing like putting an axe in someone's head to really sort of feel like you're in the world. It's an incredible release.
It's brilliant that we get the opportunity to do an intimate scene, talking about the future of our relationships and then you counterpoint that in the same episode with putting a machete in someone's head who was a direct threat to the group.
The joy of the show is that you turn up to work and you have no idea what is in store there for you in the day. A lot of credit has to go to the people who play the walkers; these incredible stuntmen that get kicked and stabbed. I stuck a knife in one of them when I ripped their mask off. It was a dummy knife, but I stuck it so close to him it sort of went in his mouth at one point. I had to apologize, but he was fine and he didn't get hurt.
They throw themselves around like we do as well, and it's play; it's such good fun. When you feel the energy from the camera crew filming it as well and capturing it, it's one of the most exciting parts of the job. Certainly the action sequences I love because it's about hitting marks and selling ideas, but also filling it with this raw kind of emotion.
Credit also has to go to Victor who's our special effects whiz-kid and is on set all the time. If he gives you the nod, it means that you've stabbed a zombie correctly. It's always one of the most satisfying nods on an action day when Victor gives you the nod.
Check back later this week for the second part of our interview and an early review of episode 3.03. If you missed any of our recent coverage, check out the following links: