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The Walking Dead Producers Q&A (Kirkman, Nicotero & Gimple)

By on October 16, 2014

Pictured: Greg Nicotero, Scott Gimple and Robert Kirkman. Photo by Abel Fermin / PhotosByAbel.com

The Walking Dead is on point this season with its most gripping and shocking installment yet.

From a narrow escape at Terminus to the false sanctuary of the Church in the woods, Rick and his gang continue to be challenged at every turn.

And while the faint hope remains that a cure can be found in Washington, staying alive long enough to get there, and retaining their humanity along the way are proving to be this year’s most compelling themes.

Via AMC, we have a Q&A on the season ahead with The Walking Dead Producers Robert Kirkman, Greg Nicotero and Scott Gimple.

Read on for full highlights.

 

ROBERT KIRKMAN, Executive Producer/Writer

 

How do you stay true to the comic and let the show evolve as its own entity?

It’s almost like two completely different projects. I get bored if I’m not multitasking, so it’s very easy to keep things separate. The Walking Dead television show and The Walking Dead comic are, to me, completely separate things in my head. There are two different Rick Grimes, two different Maggies, and so on.

 

What surprises you about your own characters after all these years?

I’ll never get used to the fact that the actors know more about their characters than I do. In comics, there is not this phenomenon where one artist draws each character so that they are uniquely invested and know more about the individual characters than I do. So it’s fun to sit down with Steven Yeun, for example, to talk about Glenn and have him say things to me that I hadn’t considered. It’s definitely one of the benefits that you get from working in television.

 

What was it like being on set during the filming of the premiere episode?

There were a couple of big set pieces that were built from scratch and it was amazing to see Grace Walker work his magic. I will say that the worst thing about going back to set is that our prison has been dismantled. I kind of wish I had spent a little more time in it. It was fun getting back to Terminus. The secrecy has been fun. There are some really great things coming.

 

What’s one element from the show you wish you had written into the comic?

Daryl Dixon is definitely the big one. But that said, I think it’s great that there is something in the television show that you can only get from the television show. He’s a tremendously important character in that when we go to adapt stories from the comic, there’s always this X factor that automatically makes us change stories in some way. The best part of doing the show is looking at my comic like a rough draft and sitting down with the writers to make it better.

 

GREG NICOTERO, Executive Producer/Director/Special Effects Makeup Supervisor

 

Where is Hershel’s head?

Hershel’s head is in my office in Los Angeles, where it will reside in memoriam.

 

Tell us about zombie school.

We had our fifth annual zombie school. One thing I learned was most walker extras come to school already knowing how they want to die. I’ve never heard that before. It’s always fun.

 

Tell us what is up your sleeves for the walkers this season.

I have very long sleeves.

 

Tell us about directing the Season Five premiere episode.

This was my eighth episode directing and it was by far the hardest episode I’ve ever directed.  We are constantly trying to up the ante. The opening teaser was something that is so completely different than anything we’ve ever done with the show.  It was so much fun, but so hard.

 

So it does not get easier to direct each year?

No, because the show does not get easier.  We challenge ourselves every year. It is not routine. It always gets harder and that is what makes the show great.

 

What’s the biggest misconception about the series?

The biggest misconception is that it is a show about zombies. Universally the show appeals to people who wouldn’t normally be attracted to a genre show because they wouldn’t necessarily think you would get something that is emotionally compelling. The show’s stories are tremendously well crafted.  Those emotions are what resonate. I attribute that to the cast. I attribute that to the writers. I attribute that to the type of storytelling we are able to accomplish on this show. People cry watching our show. It makes me proud.

 

Will you be a zombie again this year?

I hope so.

 

SCOTT M. GIMPLE, Showrunner/Executive Producer/Writer

 

What do you think makes this show so successful?

We have the epic and we have the intimate. We have the visceral and we have the soulful. It is this big stew of emotion and excitement. We try to give the audience everything, and have it all mean something.

 

Are you approaching this season differently?

The show reinvents itself every eight episodes. That holds true. Nothing changes in that everything changes.

 

Tell us what we can look forward to with the characters this season.

Each of our characters has a pretty significant story arc in Season Five. Most of those character stories separate and crash together again. You will see a lot of the characters pushed to the limit. Every single one of these people will be tested as to who they really are. The threats they face are emotional as well as circumstantial. We also attempt humor.

 

Tell us about the walkers this year.

The walkers this year that Greg Nicotero and his team are designing do reflect that we are deeper in our timeline. They have been around longer, are more damaged, and are really horrific. We are using the philosophy that you will see these walkers and what they have been through in their physiology. They are still just as dangerous.

The Walking Dead continues Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.

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