DENOFGEEK.COM – The Walking Dead star and director talk about what’s coming in season 6, the future of Alexandria, and the raging grief of Rick Grimes…
Spoilers for anyone not up to date with The Walking Dead.
I’ve long extolled the virtues of Andrew Lincoln’s character in The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes, as one who immediately invoked sympathy. From Rick’s unwanted initial push to group leader, through to the tragic loss of his wife, his bitey, bearded rage and recent relapse into a one-man killing spree that inspired even the most timid of Alexandrians to take up arms and mush some zombie brains, it’s impossible not to feel for him. You may question Rick’s decisions over the years, but you certainly can’t question Andrew Lincoln’s fiercely committed performance.
Joining Lincoln on this season 6B round-table interview was Greg Nicotero, best known for creating bloody murder (literally) since his early days as an effects artist on Day Of The Dead and The Evil Dead II. Nicotero continued his collaboration with Sam Raimi right through to the recent Oz The Great And Powerful, while working alongside pretty much every great horror director over the decades, including Wes Craven and John Carpenter. Since then he’s become one of The Walking Dead’s best directors, starting the mid-season premiere off in spectacular style, blending tension, character work, gore and RPGs into a seamless mix.
Here’s what two of The Walking Dead’s leading men had to say about recent episodes No Way Out and The Next World, the future of Alexandria, and Rick Grimes’ raging grief…
The mid-season premiere was just fantastic, especially as it contained pretty much everything that’s great about the show in just one episode. Despite everything that happened in it, the dividing moment in our house came after Carl’s accident, when Rick decided to leave his side and inflict his own brand of rage on the zombie horde – my wife screamed obscenities at Rick for being selfish, whereas I was much more of the ‘unleash’ mentality. Where did you fall on that character moment? Did you both agree that Rick made the right choice?
Greg Nicotero: That sounds like an Andy Lincoln question!
Andrew Lincoln: Well, I obviously fell into the Rick camp because I had to do it. I know what you mean, but I do think that there is something about Rick and I’ve always sort of identified – he’s like a shark, he keeps moving forward, he has to be occupied. Maybe that’s a male trait, I don’t know, but I think if he gets too emotionally engaged by something or realises that he’s powerless, that is the ultimate… He had to hand over his son to somebody he didn’t know to try and save his life and I think it was unbearable and I think the trauma of what had just happened in the scene where the whole Anderson family bite it, quite literally! That was the only way he could process this trauma and it just got shaped into this fury. It’s also deeply cool to go on a rampage! When that is principally why I’m employed on this show, as a zombie slayer.
GN: And I don’t think there was any intent in his mind that anyone else would join him, he just goes! And we spent the first half of the season showing the Alexandrians and Rick’s group and the fact that there’s a perception that they’re not aligned and the thing that I talk about very often in the show is that it’s one thing to live day-to-day, it’s another thing to look at society and moving forward to next week/next month/next year. You can’t exist without other people and the whole end of the first half of this season was about that, was about making this group of people appear to be one unit.
So when we shot that slashing and the quick cutting at the end it literally morphs them from all these different people into one unit and that unit is now Alexandria and then from this moment on they will be bound together and their dedication to survive and move forward against whatever now future obstacles will appear.
Will that give it a more hopeful tone?
GN: I think so. I mean I think it’s probably the closest we have to a happy ending when Carl squeezes Rick’s hand – we don’t really have a lot of happy endings on our show – even though my ten year old daughter thought Carl was a zombie!
AL: No! [laughing] I’m glad to see your day job isn’t affecting your children!
GN: She exclaimed “He’s a Walker!” and I was like “Yeah the next scene is Carl bites Rick and he’s dead and then the show’s over!”
AL: That’s absolutely brilliant!
GN: But no it’s a happy ending and it’s hope.
AL: That’s right and that’s why it’s implicit in the speech, he says that’s the feeling for the first time, at the end of the battle for Alexandria, that he’s felt hope, since it began. I think it’s certainly a watershed moment in his leadership, he’s certainly going ‘Well wait a minute, I want you to see the new world’ that’s how hopeful it is, it’s a beautiful phrase and I think that’s certainly what we’re going to see. A lot of the show has been them looking inwards and the group dynamic and Alexandria and how can they assimilate, now we’re looking outside the walls and like you say the shots got bigger and wider and more expansive as this season goes on and I think in one direction we certainly see hope and then in the other direction we see something very, very bad coming…
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