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The Walking Dead: Cast In and Out of Character – What the Stars Look Like in Real-Life!

Published on March 9th, 2021 | Updated on March 9th, 2021 | By FanFest

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes

“There’s an inspirational sort of strength and endurance and quality of tenacity that he possesses. I’m much more indecisive and a people-pleaser than someone who’s willing to step into the firing line. But I’ve learned from this guy. He has qualities that I would hope to emulate if [stuff] ever hit the fan. I’d like to think I’ve done it on screen, maybe I could be a zombie-killer in real life if the apocalypse hit. But then, I’d obviously die a horrible, quick death in reality.”

Lincoln on what he hopes to learn from Rick

Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes

“It’s been the coolest thing ever to have grown up on the show and spend almost half my life being part of something this cool.”

-Riggs on playing Carl for 100 episodes.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon

“What I remember most about the first day was trying to figure out who Daryl was and meeting all these people and trying to figure out where he fits in. I was super insecure and super nervous. And everyone was like, ‘Oh, who’s this new kid?” I remember the scene where I come up and I yell at Merle. I’m like, ‘Merle, we got squirrels, let’s do ‘em up!’ And they say, ‘We locked your brother on the roof.’ And I remember turning around and seeing all these faces looking at me as the new kid in school.”

-Reedus on his first day as Daryl Dixon

Danai Gurira as Michonne

“There’s a lot of stuff I had to sit on as Michonne for a long time because she was sitting on it. She’s not interested in revealing her stuff. That’s not how she’s built. That’s not what she’s about. When she transformed into her apocalyptic self, it was a woman who certainly wasn’t looking to talk about her feelings. It’s a lot to sit on. A lot of her intensity comes from the fact that there are things that are inside her that she doesn’t share. That can make you a pretty intense person. It’s been great to open up those things. We started teasing them out over the course of the season, and it was really great to be able to play certain aspects of her out and have her crack through a couple of things. It was very gratifying to do that, to do that for her, she’s just been such an intense chick for so long.”

-Gurira on taking on Michonne’s intensity

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier

“I really love this character so much, and I have people in my life who are or have been in the same situation [she was in] when we first met Carol. Some have really just stood up for themselves in the most beautiful ways, and others did not fare so well and still fight to figure it out for themselves. I was really rooting for her to be able to go the distance before I got that call. I knew she was different than the comic book Carol. By that time, I knew she was different. I wanted to see her live long enough to find that strength. So that’s kind of what my conversation was about when I was given the call with the writers.”

-McBride on fighting for Carol after being told she was getting killed off in Season 3

Lennie James as Morgan Jones

“I’ve chosen to see it as an advantage, or it has become one, as far as trying to achieve what is being asked for in the script, because each time he has come back there has been something monumental that has happened in-between. So drawing the dots but staying true to the original guy that we met in the first episode becomes what it’s about to take the audience on this journey that they haven’t seen because they’ve been with Rick and the group. So they haven’t been with Morgan, but they have to catch up each time they meet him, so that becomes what it’s all about. That, for me, has been one of the things that has been, so far, attractive and exciting about it.”

Jones on having to become Morgan again over the course of the series

Lauren Cohan as Maggie Greene

“When I first started, it was the scene where Carl has been shot and he comes into the house and we’re all kind of shell-shocked and reacting to the group. And I remember myself and Emily [Kinney] and Scott [Wilson] were new to the show and we knew it was great. I can literally remember standing in that living room of that house we shot in, and it was a real house. I remember the feeling of tension and not knowing what was coming and sort of like a train was on its way and you weren’t going to stop it.”

Cohan on her first day on set

Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler

“Well, she’s ever-evolving. I love that she was the first gay character on AMC, because a lot of people watch the show, and there are a lot of open-minded people and close-minded people. I think it’s good that we address everything that is real in the world and not exclude certain things. I love it, because that’s how it would be in this world. And I slowly but surely add to her and build her and make her more dynamic. She was going through the loss of her family in season four, and now she has a new family to protect.”

Masterson on her first impressions of Tara

Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter

“Yeah, we call it “the mullet of life.” Our hairdresser, Vincent Gideon, came up and said, “This is the mullet of life. It’s a hard show to shoot, man. They say if you’re tired, if you don’t know you can last another day and you just need to recharge, just go to the mullet and drink from the mullet of life.” So I ring my mullet sweat into a Dixie cup and someone pounds it like a shot of whiskey! It may be gross, but that’s what makes the show great.”

McDermitt on the mullet

Tom Payne as Jesus

“I think Jesus has a sense of right and wrong and is trying to inject a sense of morality into the whole thing. The thing is, it’s a war, and in war, there are prisoners of war and there are ways of going about things. There are rules. As much as it’s crazy and awful, there are established rules, like you don’t kill people who have surrendered. And as far as Jesus goes, he feels that you have to abide by those in order to keep some civility, otherwise you might just lose yourself.”

Payne on Jesus’ stance in the All Out War

Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa

“I remember thinking, f—k. It’s weird being characters from the comic book and it made me so nervous because everyone was waiting to see what we were going to look like in costumes together. Then that’s how I felt when Negan came, and I remember thinking, Wow, this is what they were thinking then when Abraham’s Army came. I’d never played a comic character before and so there are these expectations and it made me really nervous, but it made me also really excited. God, was I scared s—tless. I was scared!”

Serratos on her first days as Rosita

Khary Payton as King Ezekiel

“In the script, it talks about his physicality changing in that moment where he goes from Ezekiel to “Zeke mode,” as I like to call it. I always felt that, when I read it at least, it was more about how his vocal quality changed, and then that served to change his physicality. All the Shakespeare from college and throughout my 20s that I had done and all of the voice work in my 30s and into my 40s really helped prepare me for the role. I was oddly and uniquely qualified to do this particular thing.”

Payton on going into “Zeke mode”

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan

“I was in the middle of shooting The Good Wife and the phone rang. It was my agent saying I’d been offered to play the lead villain on The Walking Dead. Because I’m a fan of the show, I asked the villain’s name and because it was a secret, I knew immediately: ‘It’s f—ing Negan and I’m f—ing doing it.’”

Morgan on knowing he was Negan before they even told him

Ross Marquand as Aaron

“I didn’t want to do anything until I talked to Scott Gimple first, so I had a phone call with him and said, “I know this is coming from a very specific source material with a fan base that we want to honor. Do you want me to mirror my performance off the depiction of Aaron in the comics?” He’s like, “I certainly wouldn’t tell you to shy away from reading that because I think it will give you some great insights into whom he is, but ultimately I want you to make this character your own.” And that was a really nice note to give because sometimes you can get too caught up in the fandom of it all and the comic books and what people expect from that. It was nice to hear that there was some artistic freedom to make this character what you felt it should be and could be. But reading through Kirkman’s comics was enormously helpful because you do get a really amazing sense of whom he is.”

Marquand on making Aaron his own 

Austin Amelio as Dwight

“I was in L.A. for seven months, and to me it was just another audition. I worked my ass off on it the night before for, like, eight hours. So I went in and was one of the last two auditioners, and I heard the casting director go, “Okay, well, we’ll just find the guy tomorrow.” So I was like, “Okay, this is it. I’m bringing it.” And I guess just ended up having a good audition, and it was one of those ones where I was like, “Okay, I think I did a really good job.” Then two days later, they said I booked it, signed some papers Monday, got ready Tuesday, flew out Wednesday, and started shooting Thursday. So it was really crazy. It was super quick.”

Amelio on getting cast as Dwight

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel

“I remember at one point looking down and being like, Look, there’s Daryl! Look, there’s Rick! Look there’s Carol!Then it was like, No, no, that’s Norman, that’s Andy, that’s Melissa, and you need to get your lines down. I remember having that kind of surreal moment where I was just watching these guys, and just invested in their journey less than 14 hours ago, and now I’m a part of it. I’ve got to remember that I’ve got a job to do here, I can’t be spectating because now my TV has come to life in front of me.”

Gilliam on his first days on set

 Pollyanna McIntosh as Jadis

“I like her fast mind and fast wit. Her inquisitive mind, she’s always checking out what people are all about and for good reason. I like her comfort zone in her power as well. She’s comfortable being powerful.”

McIntosh on her favorite qualities about Jadis

Steven Ogg as Simon

“I’ve been comparing him to like the drummer in a band. He’s not leading because he can’t lead. I think he prefers to be the drummer, get the job done, keep it all together, and just not be front man. But if you look at a Dave Grohl, there he is drumming in Nirvana, didn’t take center stage. You’d have never guessed that years later, he’s one of the great rock and roll front men, and I sort of see Simon as that, you know? There’s a guy, he’s in the background, doing his job. He doesn’t really want to be front, but I certainly think he has the ability to step up to the front of the stage. He just prefers to be the drummer for now.”

Ogg on Simon being the Savior’s “drummer”

Michael Cudlitz as Abraham Ford

“I think he was praying that it would be him. I think that at this point, at the point we’re at in the end of Season 6, Abraham knows he’s figured out these guys. He knows that this kind of operation to work the way it is, for all of the men to be under his control the way he is, there’s a lay of the land. He sees when Negan is describing what he has to do now, that someone has to pay for this, he knows that he wants it to be him because he wants to protect everybody else. That’s just in his nature. I think he feels once he is chosen, he really is at peace.”

Cudlitz on Abraham’s final thoughts

Sonequa Martin-Green as Sasha Williams

“Oh my goodness. I don’t have words to describe how special it was. It was just… it was family coming together. We always love each other, any day. But then when people leave, it’s such an enchanted time because we come and we laugh and we share and we give everything we have to each other in those last moments. And that’s exactly what it was, just being able to take in everyone that way. I could cry talking about it right now because any word that I use to try to describe it might diminish it a little bit. It sort of lives in the ether where it can’t be described. Those last days of the time that I spent with everyone and being able to look back at all of my time on the show — just divine.”

Green on her last few days on set

Photo Credit: Walker Stalker Con and Getty Images


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as seen on promo graphic


as seen on promo graphic