Norman Reedus Speaks Candidly about Daryl’s Emotional Journey on ‘The Walking Dead’

For many fans of The Walking Dead, the series wouldn’t be what it is today without Daryl Dixon. His character adds an arc to the show that wouldn’t exist without him at the same time that he brings humanity within a character who never expected it himself. Daryl’s start was rough, but his evolution has been more than his fans could have asked for and Norman Reedus appreciates that as much as we all do too.

In fact, Norman says the line between himself and Daryl is blurred at this point, and he’s brought a lot of himself into playing Daryl and let the character leave an impact on who he is too.

He recently sat down for an interview with Cnet and one of the things he spoke about was Daryl’s emotional journey thus far. What it’s meant to see his character transform from season 1 to now and how it’s influenced him personally.

When you first see him, he’s such an angry guy. He basically would’ve turned into his brother. But he’s found a sense of self-worth through these people that he would’ve never hung out with before.’

Daryl finding self-worth was the best thing that could have happened to him. He not only gained confidence and a sense of self-respect that comes with self-worth, he gained the ability to love people and to let them love him, too.

Norman went on to discuss that there were scripts that involved Daryl following the same path Merle did. Norman fought against those scenes because he wanted his character to be able to evolve into a man that earned respect – and not by way of fear. As Daryl grew to be respected and to love and be loved, it’s changed who he is as a person. He no longer talks to someone while looking away or speaks under his breath. He feels like he matters.

‘Now he talks to you like this [facing front], like he means everything he says. He’s super direct, super honest and you can count on him. Now he’s a leader and he calls the shots with Rick. Rick’s the brother that Merle never was. It’s a strange sort of circumstance how it’s made Daryl a better person.’

As far as what’s Norman and what’s Daryl, well…they’re a bit intertwined at this point and it’s given Norman the ability to create a bigger existence for Daryl, one that’s more impactful.

I think of Daryl all the time. Everybody calls me Daryl — no one even knows my name anymore. There’s a lot of me in him and a lot of him in me. What’s good about playing a show for eight years is that … you drop these little seeds behind you and they turn into trees and forests. You can create a larger story, so time really works to your advantage.

Norman also gave us hope for season 8 saying it felt more like the original show which has given us hope that, even though we’re expecting more death and despair, we’ll get some of that brotherhood and light back – the same brotherhood and light we saw towards the season’s end.

We were massive fans of Norman before this interview, but hearing him talk about how he fought for Daryl’s character to grow out of ignorance and intolerance and how much of himself he brings to Daryl and how much of Daryl he carries himself – we appreciate him and the dedication he has to his craft even more.

You can watch the video below for more in depth responses from Norman and check out the Cnet interview in its entirety online or in print now.