The Walking Dead press conference took place on Friday of San Diego Comic Con, and we were there to collect all the juicy details and also share a few laughs with the cast!
Most of the cast were running a bit late, so they told us they’d begin with Andrew Lincoln, Greg Nicotero and Scott M. Gimple. Suddenly, Andrew Lincoln confidently (and swiftly) walks into the press room with a purpose, solo. When everyone realizes it is him, they begin to clap. He sits down at the table and looks at the 35-40 press members seated in front of him and smiles.
Greg Nicotero and Scott M. Gimple trail behind him as Greg shouts “Andy, you got this?” They laugh and try to get to his side as quick as they can.
The conference took place just a few hours after fans were given a confirmation of Andy’s impending departure, so some of the questions inevitably revolved around that.
“Is there a way for a character leaving this world without dying?” One press member pokes.
“Well, Lennie James is a good example of leaving without dying. And I just saw him about 5 minutes ago and he looks incredible. (laughs) And then there’s obviously the other way. Which we’ve done quite a lot. Obviously I’m not going to tell you which way. I prefer the Lennie James of it all. But I think what we have in store is truly remarkable and I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”
So, that being said, Rick’s departure could still remain open ended, and we are guessing that is what will happen.
“It’s been 9 years and I love seeing fans and you guys have been such a crucial part of this experience. But my relationship with Rick Grimes is far from over.” he went on to say.
Greg and Scott are asked about the trailer:
“We really want to come out of the gate this year showing you guys that the show has really been reinvented. We get to see Washington D.C. and there’s a great shot of Rick on horseback running through bashing the head of walker. So with the new characters you saw in the trailer and with that little tease at the end, for me personally I think it’s one of the most exciting time’s it’s been on the show in a long time. Because we have this new threat that is really well introduced in the comic book and is really exciting. I love that that’s where the show’s headed.” Greg explained.
There was a particular scene that Andy and Norman shot together. They rehearsed it over and over again. They spent so much time. We want to see where these relationships are going. This season, we’ve really gotten then opportunity to explore that. It feels like the level of collaborating and dedication-him and Norman would be working on a scene we didn’t shoot for a week. After 9 years, we still want it to be great for you.”
Andy had some nice words to say about Norman Reedus as well: “I will complement Norman when he’s not here. He is truly amazing instinctive brilliant actor. I came to America to work with actors like him. he’s a Steve McQueen. I got to do scenes with all of my favorite people this season. As a farewell, that’s the greatest present I could have ever gotten.”
Soon, the rest of the cast in attendance sauntered in looking sauve: Norman Reedus, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Danai Gurira and Lauren Cohan. Angela Kang also joined. Andrew quickly pretended he wasn’t saying anything nice about Norman, and Norman gave him a swift punch in the shoulder.
Jeffrey looked for his name tag on the table, “I’m going to sit in my seat for the first time ever.”
They were asked about the reveal of Andrew’s leaving, and Andrew said he would have preferred another outcome.
“I would love to have not told anybody this was happening and for you guys to experience it. The news had broke a few months ago and then Robert mentioned in interviews. So we thought we wouldn’t go to you guys first, we’d go to the fans. It’s just what it is.”
Danai spoke about that letter she read from Carl in episode 814. She revealed that she actually wrote the letter in her idea of what Carl would have written to her. “I was reading his words…” and Jeffrey chimed in “That you wrote.” “That I wrote.” She echoed. The room laughed.
A member of the press named Norman Jeffrey stood up and shared his name-to which Jeffrey Dean Morgan laughed and said “You are awesome!”
Norman Jeffrey then said his question was for Andy, which made the room laugh some more. Andy was asked how long he had been thinking of leaving the show, to which he said:
“9 years. Well, you know, because that’s where we live. It had a lot to do with a conversation Scott and I had a few years ago. It was something I started thinking about as my children got older and less portable.”
He talked about wanting to end the story arc but not wanting to “desert the mother ship.”
Lauren Cohan also spoke about the upcoming and exciting changes saying although there are differences “it’s the show you know.”
”What’s exciting for me is that the narrative is being freed up. It feels like the show I always felt we’d head toward when we wrapped the pilot.” Andy added.
When asked about why Maggie and Daryl are turning on Rick, Greg Nicotero shed some light on the final scene this season.
“They made a deal at the beginning of the finale that Negan was done. They were gonna kill him. So when Rick spared his life and Maggie broke down, she broke down because all the sheer emotion because of everything he has done. All the pain Negan has inflicted on everyone. So Maggie felt betrayed. The last scene when the cameras are creeping in on her, she says, That’s not what we agreed to. I’m not down with it.” Daryl steps out of the shadows and says “Yeah I’m not down with that either.”
Scott Gimple adds what is by now, obvious to fans, “Daryl is not a fan of Negan.”
Another highlight is when Norman talks Daryl and Carol’s relationship-giving her high praise as an actress and revealing that Carol and Daryl shippers may get a semblance of satisfaction:
“One of the episodes this year has a really sweet heartfelt moment between them and it’s one of my favorite scenes we’ve shot.“
A final thought from Andy, who says he rarely drives home from shooting happy, that he’s always ruminating with thought and criticisms.
“In the last two weeks of my filming, I drove home happy four times. That’s because I got to do scenes with all of these guys here. And a few other surprises. You don’t get actors like this in the UK.”
Season 9 of The Walking Dead premieres on October 7th! Check out the official trailer for season 9 released during San Diego Comic Con!
Shannon Toohey is Editor-In-Chief of FanFest.com. She graduated from Hofstra University in 2015 with a B.A. in Journalism from the Lawrence Herbert School of Communications. Shannon has been a proud member of the Fan Fest team since 2013. Tweet her in your prettiest bird voice: @shannontoo