Norman Reedus And Greg Nicotero Talk Making The Dead Groove

This is the first part of the complete roundtable interviews with Greg Nicotero and Norman Reedus at SDCC in 2014. My questions are marked. Others are by other reporters.

Where are you shooting wise ?

Norman Reedus: We’re not quite at the mid-season finale yet. There’s a lot of storylines going around and it’s super complicated right now.I’m going over scenes in my head as we’re doing all of this.There’s a lot going on right now.

Can you tell us where Daryl is at going into season five ?

Norman Reedus: Some one just asked me that recently. How is Daryl ? How is his head space different in five ? Well it’s a combination of mid four going into five. You don’t go into a season and say I’m going to do this this season or I’m going to change. It’s a gradual change.There’s been so much gradual change from Daryl since season one. He’s so different.So that same trajectory he’s on right now.One thing about this show. They go ‘Here Here. this would be delicious.’ Up sike. You know what I mean.

Greg Nicotero: We do that ?

Norman Reedus: Oh My God. There’s so much of that.All of those characters get harder as it goes along.More hardened as it goes along.They have more experience with loss and grief.They’re fighting even harder. Everyone is sort of in fifth gear right now.

How would you say he’s affected by what happened to Beth ?

Norman Reedus: Well Beth was kind of like in a long dark tunnel. She was kind of this little flame at the end of it.He got closer and closer to that flame.Maybe he could see something. Maybe it would be light and it’s getting warmer and warmer. And someone blew it out.

Greg Nicotero: That’s a good example.

Norman Reedus: The whole thing if Daryl has a thing for Beth or whatever . I always saw that as if he did, he didn’t understand those feelings.He might have felt them. But it wasn’t a thing yet.He was sort of uncomfortable with those feelings.But there may be hope somewhere down the line.And then it was taken from, again.He was reunited with his brother,taken.Found his family in that prison, taken.Almost go Sofia, taken.Over and over and over again.That happens to all of us.


What is it like as an actor to get into that ?

Norman Reedus: It’s weird. People say what’s it like…..I’ve become so close to Daryl. I’m Daryl.I’m not playing Daryl so much anymore.I do things differently than Daryl and say things differently that Daryl and I think a little differently than Daryl but I’m so living that character that I really care about these people. Not just the cast. Everybody there is like family.I’d do anything to keep them safe.

I’d take a bullet for almost all of us (slight laugh) I’m feeling it as I’m doing it. I’m learning and growing as a man. My feelings are becoming more heavy.The respondsibilty is more heavy.Like this show, they all kill us off at some point…my own mortality.I’m living it.It’s definitely close to me.

Tony Tellado: Greg talk about your directing career on this series.

Greg Nicotero: It’s been amazing.One of the advantages that I have, listen I never thought that this is the seat that I would land in. And I’m here but the advantage I have is that I’ve been on set with these guys every single day.I know the show.Usually a director comes in, he leaves and another one comes in.I’m there every day. I know the arc of the story and I know the characters.I see the choices that the actors make and what they bring to it.That gives me a big leg up. I’m very protective, like Norman was just saying, I’m very protective of a lot of these characters too.I feel fortunate enough that I can be protective of Daryl, I can be protective of Rick and that I can be protective of these characters from the outline onward.I’ll read an outline and think, “That really doesn’t make any sense.”I can speak up, “Listen I don’t know if Daryl would, this doesn’t make any sense to me.” So I feel like I have a really good hand in helping to shape these characters because I know how these guys will play them.We have a really unique shorthand.

Norman Reedus: It’s great.

Greg Nicotero: Last season, the first episode after they left the prison.It was just Carl,Michone and Rick.There was a really great line where Carl goes and ties the door closed. Rick is yelling at him.”It’s a good knot.” In the script Carl says “Dale taught me.” We were rehearsing. It was me, Chandler (Riggs) and Andy (Andrew Lincoln) . As soon as we did the scene, all of our heads went up at the same time and said “he should say Shane.” He should say Dale because Dale doesn’t have any emotional impact.But if he says “Shane taught me. Remember him ? “ The ultimate Fuck You. Reading that it was great that we all looked up at the exact same moment.With Andy, there are so many times that I’ll walk over and try, do one version and he finishes my sentances.I’ll walk away and say, “Why am I even here ? “ I love that. I love the instinct that the actors have. I fight a lot to make sure that those instincts are preserved because it’s hard. Right now everything is criss crossing.We’re building towards the mid-season finale.We have all those story lines. The beauty of how Scott Gimple writes is that he plants all those seeds early.So things that are planted in episode one, two, they blossom by episode seven or eight.The trick is you don’t know how big one scene is going to get versus another.For me as a director and these actors, it’s like a little bit of a mine field.Like Norman said, you invest in this thinking this is going to blossom in some beautiful thing and then it’s taken away.So we sort of navigate this mine field. The show benefits from that phonetic anxiety because it keeps you engaged.People watch the show and call me. “I’m sitting on the edge of my chair.” And I say, “Good. That’s what we want.” We love that.



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