Filming has official resumed on The Walking Dead, and with it, the cast and crew are facing some new hurdles to make sure things are safe and people are protected against COVID-19. The new measures are fascinating and some of the best new technology.
Discussing the current status of filming, Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl Dixon,was on EW Live and talked about what life on set is like. “We’re being super safe,” says Reedus. “There’s a ton of rules now. Everybody’s masked up or has shields on. I have a big scar on my face so that this mask doesn’t work, so I wear the shield everybody else wears masks. “They take our temperature right off the bat. We get tested three times a week. We do the rapid testing.” The show has also put tracers in place that track where cast and crew go and who they come into contact with during every second on set.
The show is taking extra special precautions in protecting its most valuable asset: its actors! Everyone on set is required to stay as far away as possible from them. “It’s kind of embarrassing,” explains Reedus. “Because I’ll show up on set and they’ll be like ‘Actor on set!’ And then the people part like Moses and the sea. And I’m like, “Excuse me, coming through.’ It’s embarrassing.”
“I look over and there are crew members carrying cameras and equipment who have a mask and a shield. And I’m like, I have nothing to complain about,” Reedus continued.
The greatest challenge to it all is that The Walking Dead is one big family, both on-set and off! “We like to hug, we like to high-five, we like to shake each other,” says Reedus. “We’re with that group. So to keep us all separated, it’s different. Granted we’re getting used to it, but there are no divas on this set. Now everyone’s away from each other and everyone’s got these masks on you and you can’t see people’s smile, so it’s kind of a different vibe.”
Reedus also recently sat down with Deadline and Showrunner, Angela Kang, and discussed the unique challenges they are facing in trying to film during the pandemic.
DEADLINE: Norman, you are there on the ground in Georgia now, a few table reads under your belt, about to start filming the extra six. What’s your POV?
REEDUS: I think it’s exactly what Angela discussed. We really get into the heads of the characters more than a giant situation where you’d have thousands of zombies on top of you and people screaming and running.
It’s more character-driven, because of COVID, it’s kind of changed the dynamic a little bit. Also, I think after such an epic battle at the end of this season I think you need some breathing room. I think people need to exhale and take a look around them, and I think that’s what’s happening now. I’m sure it’ll ramp back up again but right now it’s kind of an introspective exhale sort of a feel, which is nice. It’s a nice tone.
DEADLINE: The spinoff of just one of many projects, Walking Dead, RIDE and otherwise you have on the boil coming off this deal you inked with AMC for your bigbaldhead productions. How are you going to keep it all going?
REEDUS: I’ve always made things …I mean, I wrote a novel during this time. I’ve always done stuff like that. I did that before I was an actor and I kept doing it while I was an actor. I’ve always done photography. I’ve always done art shows around the world. I’ve always put together stuff like that. I’ve always made little films. I’ve always done stuff like that.
I’ve always worked on stuff hoping it was going to have a door I could walk through one day and make it real. I’ve always done it.
When the deal came for the first-look deal, they said, a lot of actors do this and it’s a vanity project and they never really get their hands dirty. They let other people do it and they try to make films where they star in them, and I was like, trust me. I already have a billion ideas and a billion things I’m working on (laughs).
To be honest, I’ve never had time to do some of the things I wanted to do. I’m busy all year, and Walking Dead was eight months of the year. There were many parts of the year I was doing RIDE. I got a little break at Christmas, and the whole time I’m doing art shows, and I’m doing art books, and I’m doing things for charities, I’m always doing those, but the COVID thing kind of helped me do that in a way because I never would’ve had the time to kick the company off the way that I wanted to kick it off.
All of a sudden everybody’s doing Zoom calls, and everybody’s reading things, and everyone’s getting ready for the world to open back up and it kind of gave me the time to do all of this
DEADLINE: Going into that, Norman, what’s going on with RIDE going forward? I know you start filming a new season, but the pandemic cut that short. So, pardon the analogy, but is the journey over?
REEDUS: I’m actually have my house in Georgia right now. I just came back from a wardrobe thing. I’m back at the house. I’m waiting for someone to show up because they’re taking one of the rooms here and they’re turning it into a video conference interview-type room where I will be doing commentary and video and telling stories about past RIDE episodes.
This season we shot two episodes in New Zealand and then the world stopped.
Now, I can’t really go anywhere to film anything other than Walking Dead. I mean, right when they shut everything down, I was on my way to Italy and Croatia, and they’re like, no, it’s done.
So, we’ll have the two episodes out of New Zealand, and then it’ll be kind of a best of season for the remaining four. Then I’ll shoot Walking Dead up until Thanksgiving, have a break until January, and then from January I’ll be shooting two full seasons for a year, and we’re going to try to find the time, depending on what the world looks like, to bounce off and do a RIDE episode here and there, and pick that back up.
Showrunner, Angela Kang, also participated in the interview and discussed the challenges of filming in the pandemic.
DEADLINE: In terms of making it work, Angela, TWD is on the verge of starting to film the rest of Season 10 right now in Georgia. It’s a challenge for everyone, obviously, but how are you guys managing the necessary safety protocols and actually making a show?
KANG: The advantage we have is that we have our own studio and backlot. So, a lot of the challenges that I’m hearing from other showrunners that they’re facing is if you’re a location-heavy show, it becomes so hard to go on location in a way that’s safe.
DEADLINE: It’s impossible doing that right now…
KANG: Yeah, for them it’s impossible, but we control our environment. You’d be surprised how much, with plenty of preplanning, we’ve been able to build on the backlot, so it won’t feel like, oh, you’re just seeing the same like one place over and over. The art department has built out all these locations that are on the backlot. Then, on the safety side, the studio itself has upgraded the HVAC, put in air scrubbers and UV light things to zap germs on the stages. We’ve got so many safety protocols in place following every single thing to the letter that the unions have all asked for plus gone beyond.
DEADLINE: Such as?
KANG: We have a mobile lab that is set up at the studio. Because a problem that a lot of productions were facing is not getting test results turned around in time, so you don’t know if like people are good to go or not.
I think one of the advantages is we really planned our return to production around like what the epidemiologist told us. We listened to the experts on like every single thing. I’m not throwing shade on anybody at all, it’s just like we have like a military-grade operation, it’s so stringent.
Kimmel asked Reedus about the new spinoff and what viewers can expect. “It’s a different type of show,”Reedus explained, vaguely. “It’ll be completely different.”
Could it be a comedy sitcom, suggested Kimmel. “It would be funny, I think [if it was a sitcom], to have these two characters explain to the world who they are… That could be funny,” Reedus agreed.
Daryl and Carol have been the two longest-tenured characters now on The Walking Dead. The two have long been shipped by viewers to have a romantic relationship but that’s never come to fruition. Instead, the two share the closest friendship on the show and rely on each other heavily now that other leaders on the show like Rick and Michonne have departed.
“I love the way these characters interact and relate to each other on so many levels and can’t wait to see where their ride goes from here,” Reedus said in a previous statement.
Also in the same statement, Melissa McBride added, “There is… a rather mysterious aspect to their fondness for one another that I enjoy, and their playfulness when the world permits. I’m very curious! Angela [Kang] has a way of shaking things up in great and unexpected ways. She’s like a kid playing with the dimmer switch! I’m very excited!”
The Walking Dead heads into a final 30 episodes once this Season 10 Special Event airs on October 4. The show will air six episodes in early 2021 that are expected to focus on Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and where she was while she was away from our main group. It is also expected to introduce the community and the characters in the community where Maggie had been living.
Are you excited about all of this Walking Dead news like we are? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
This is post P-90x. I’m saying I watched the videos. I’m not saying I participated. Born in my mom’s basement, I’ve stayed there to embody the stereotype. One day I will rise up… to the main floor of the house.