AMC’s The Walking Dead presence here on Day 2 of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con kicked off with moderator Chris Hardwick (The Talking Dead) introducing the panel, including executive producers Robert Kirkman, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero, Gayle Anne Hurd, and showrunner Glen Mazzara, and debuting the trailer for the upcoming Season 3 (which you can watch here below).
Kirkman, who created the comic book series that the TV show is based on, said viewers can look forward to a fully stage-built yet realistic prison set. Alpert said that the series has exceeded the vision he had in his head from the comic book. Hardwick mentioned that naysayers who complained about lack of zombies early in season two, certainly had nothing to complain about by season’s end. Nicotero said he’s striving to create more realistic decomposed and hungry zombies moving forward in The Walking Dead‘s timeline. He wants to keep the audience guessing with what effects they’re going to unleash. He’s recently directed his first episode and felt it rewarding to him to finally connect with the actors.
Hurd said she’s excited this year to introduce the isolated town of Woodbury and the character of Michonne. She says Michonne kicks ass with a katana and the intensity level will be incredible.
Showrunner Mazzara feels this year they’re really in the zone, with the crew constantly pushing each other to do things never before shown in zombie fiction. Important to him is sating true to the raw visceral feel of the comic book, and develop fully realized characters.
Hardwick then previewed the trailer from the highly anticipated season three, embedded below.
Then Hardwick introduced cast members Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, Norman Reedus, Steven Yeun, Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, and newcomers Danai Gurira (Michonne) and David Morrissey (The Governor of Woodbury).
Lincoln was blown away by the SDCC turnout and said the shooting schedule was brutal, but he loves it and the cast and crew are busting their guts to bring their best to the show.
Callies said they promote the show all over the place, but SDCC is the only place to connect with the fans in real life and that’s very humbling.
Reedus sees Daryl as having been under Merle’s big thumb and is happy to see his character connect more with the others and grow up.
Holden has bonded pretty tightly with Gurira, and thinks the audience will love Michonne this year.
Yeun was asked if Glen was going to dive into love this year. He said he’s going to take it slow, and felt it was a blast to follow Glen’s arc from a boy to maturity as a man.
Cohan felt that the cast has been able to read each other’s minds as they’ve worked as a team. She complained that the new prison set is freezing compared to the sweltering Georgia locations.
Gurira was thrilled to learn Katana for her role, and pleased to be accepted as a family member by the rest of the cast as they explore the apocalyptic world of The Walking Dead.
Morrissey admitted he joined the cast as a fan, but was not prepared for exactly how well the crew worked together. He was thrilled to come to SDCC for the first time. Hailing from Britain, he was completely unprepared for the Georgia heat. He compared The Walking Dead to his work on Doctor Who, in that both are labors of love by crew who are passionate about their work.
Lincoln compared Rick’s journey to ‘The Man’ in Cormack McCarthy’s The Road in that both characters have lost their humanity in order to protect their loved ones. This season, he feels Rick will finally acknowledge his dependence on other people.
During the question and answer session, Lincoln said that if he had the chance to play any other character it’d either be Darryl or Carl (Chandler Riggs), because of Carl’s resilience.
A Rick Grimes-dressed fan asked how the Brits on the show pulled off such convincing Southern American accents. Cohen said they Skype with a dialect coach for hours each week. Lincoln credited being able to shoot in Georgia and be around the locals there. He stays in character (using the same dialect) when he’s not shooting.
A well-endowed female fan in a “Team Dixon” t-shirt asked Kirkman if they were going to find out more about Darryl’s backstory. He said an upcoming game online at AMC’s website will explore that issue (and more).
Yeun was asked how he’d survive if stuck in a real zombie apocalypse. He said he’s resourceful, yet lazy; if there were a lot of attractive ladies around, he’d stick it out, but if it turned out to be a sausage party, he’d just lay down and let the zombies bite him.
Kirkman was asked if Daryl would ever be in the comic book, and he replied that it’s not in his immediate plans.
A fan asked the cast who’s most and least like their character. Lincoln said he felt he’s not anything like Rick. Callies hoped she’d make different choices than homewrecker Laurie. Reedus said he’s nothing like redneck Darryl. Holden feels closest to Andrea at this point in Andrea’s journey. Cohen said she thinks Maggie’s a romantic and her weapons skills are pretty amazing. Gurira felt if she were really in a zombie apocalypse, she’d hope to become a lioness like Michonne.
Morrisey said we don’t know who we really are until we’re challenged and the same goes for his character.
SFX producer Nicotero then announced he’d selected a lucky Comic-Con fan, Lorena Gonzales, to have a bust made of her head to turn her into a walker for an episode this season.
Callies defended Laurie’s actions this season by saying that regarding Shane, she only told Rick to watch his back, not kill him, and in the course of Rick’s actions, the right man won the fight.
The Walking Dead returns Sunday Oct 14th at 9PM, and will premiere in 122 countries worldwide later that week.