More from the SDCC roundtable with Norman Reedus and Greg Nicotero on The Walking Dead Season Five.
We were talking about how last season you guys really pushed the envelope with the violent quotient not even with the walkers.
Norman Reedus: Oh, dude you haven’t seen nothing yet.
We were talking about the unfilmable.but in episodes you still filmed.
Greg Nicotero: Not only have we filmed it but it’s still in there.
Norman Reedus: You don’t want to know because it will spoil it when you see it.
Norman Reedus: You don’t want to know because it will spoil it when you see it.There was a point when we were filming when I leaned over to Andy and said,”This will never make it to TV.” And he goes, “You say that every year.”
Greg Nicotero: He does say that every year. Here’s the thing.Scott (Gimple) pitched me the opening.I remember I had this vivid…The way Scott describes scenes to me..I’m a visual guy so I see the flashes in my head of what the scene looks like.He pitches it and it appears in my head and I go back to him and I say, “What If we did this.” The first six minutes is all a combination of what he pitched and what I threw back at him. We’re great collaborators in that way because we love the show and we want the show to be great.
Even when we were filming it, the other actors had no idea how I had choreographed certain things.So when certain things occur during those first few minutes, everyone’s reaction is “Holy Shit did I just see what I think I just saw ?” That was fun for me because I didn’t really tell any of them.It’s like that same story when Ridley Scott did Alien, when they put John Hurt on the table and they had the chest burster but none of the other actors really knew.
Norman Reedus: For real ? (Starts to laugh )
Greg Nicotero: He’s laying there wigglng and it goes burst. All the cameras and the reactions of everbody in that room was real because they weren’t clued in.So I kind of stole a little bit of that. I didn’t want any of these guys to know what was coming up.
Norman Reedus: That’s awesome
Greg Nicotero: And it worked really well. But again, it’s all about the story. We never,and it’s really important that I say this, we don’t put gore in the show for gore’s sake.It serves the story and it’s tremendously important.Because those moments in the show with the Governor and things that happened in that season, they may feel gratuitous but the bottom line is that pushes our story forward.In this brutal world where I love, you can walk down the street where there’s a bottle of water in the middle of the street but nobody around it. you’ll be “Ok should I take that ? And if I take that is it a trap ? Or is it genuinely somebody nice ? ”
Norman Reedus: There’s poison. People waiting in the trees.
Greg Nicotero: And how do you make that decision ? That’s the dynamic about what I love about our show. Our show is five people standing around saying,
“Should we do it ? “
But they’re hungry, they’re starving. They’re thirsty.And that consequence and where that takes you. They take it. They don’t take it.With Terminus,they go up there, “Hey listen,this is our only shot.The prison’s gone.Where are we going to go.”So they follow the signs and here they are. But they had to make that choice because they had no where else to go.
Tony Tellado: I thought Daryl’s popularity really shot up. There was something familiar to him, kind of like a Charles Bronson quality to him.
Norman Reedus: I like your style. (Fist bumps me- Fan Boy moment for me. He high fived me in NYCC)
Tony Tellado: He’s kind of a quiet guy, tough but he’s sensitive and that’s what people really hooked into.
Norman Reedus: I think you’re right.That and some of the storyline from last year and the year before I think. I got a lot of girl followers (probably on Twitter) when I gave the speech looking for Sofia.
Greg Nicotero: That was season two.
Norman Reedus: It’s crazy that it’s still going on like this. I’m curious as to where were all headed.
You know they’ll riot if you die.
Norman Reedus: I’ll be passing out matchbooks.
Greg Nicotero: I had a fan come up to me on the floor the other day. And she says.”I have a contract for you. You have to sign it.And it promises that you will not kill off anymore characters in The Walking Dead.” And it was literally like a legal document.It’s funny because I almost said, “I will sign this” To me I hate doing it more than anybody.
You’re always the one directing when they do die.
Greg Nicotero: Oh, I know. I killed Meryl, I killed Dale.
Norman Reedus: And I killed both of them with you.
Greg Nicotero: That’s right you did now that you mention it.
Is there ever appoint when you have gone too far and then recanted ?
Greg Nicotero: No there really hasn’t been a time when we said, “Hmm that’s too much.” There was one zombie gag that we did last year when all the zombies were up against the fence.And that one zombie’s face gets pushed through.And of course Gimple is like, “You’ve probably have gone too far.” And I watched it, “It’s awesome. What do you mean ? We put that shot in the gag reel for the wrap party.And it was the biggest response of the whole gag reel was that smash. So I think it will be on the DVD somewhere as an Easter egg.That was the only time where Scott said,”Ok sir, I think you probably have gone too far.” I looked at it, “I guess it’s really bad but no It’s great.”
Norman Reedus: It was great
Greg Nicotero: I shot it so I knew what it looked like.
Tony Tellado: Meryl’s death scene and Daryl’s reaction was just great.
Norman Reedus: Thanks man. He directed that too. I read that script. Aw man, today is going to suck.The worst day ever.
Greg Nicotero: That’s what we should have called that episode.Today Is Really Going To Suck
Norman Reedus: It was so depressing.
Greg Nicotero: We worked so hard on that. And Norman’s performance. It was interesting because the director has his cut, the producer has his cut then it goes to the network and Bla Bla Blah.I remember seeing a later cut where the ending had been switched around a little bit.It didn’t end with Daryl and Meryl. It ended with Michone coming back to the prison alone.How can you do that ? You have to go out on that moment.We went to the network and got them to switch it back.People were crying. I got phone calls and emails from people that were weeping.”How did you make me cry at this ? “ “He (Daryl) did it. I didn’t.But having that moment and knowing that you have to end that episode on Daryl’s face not on a wide shot of Michone in the prison.I wanted the episode to go like that at the end.
Norman Reedus: You know when I watched that, I cried a little still to this day.It takes me back to that moment.
Greg Nicotero: And Jeff DeMunn (Dale)
Norman Reedus: I didn’t cry as much for Jeff.
Greg Nicotero: I cried for Jeff.
Norman Reedus: But I liked him.
Special thanks to AMC and San Diego Comic Con