Gale Anne Hurd, The Walking Dead‘s Executive Producer, discusses the love triangle with Rick, Lori and Shane, Daryl Dixon’s unique appeals, and the possibility of playing a zombie in Season 2. New Dispatches From the Set are released every week throughout the production.
Q: What’s the production been like so far?
A: It has been pedal to the metal. We had the zombie invasion, the herd on the highway… It was certainly as big, if not bigger, than anything we had in the first season. It’s interesting, though, because now that people are aware of the show, we do have visitors. Sometimes they’re in helicopters for the local TV stations. Sometimes they’re fans that show up at five o’clock in the morning waiting for us to arrive.
Q: What other changes have you noticed now that The Walking Dead is on everyone’s radar?
A: The number of people who want to be zombie extras has blown up. And when we say that we’re working on The Walking Dead, as opposed to the blank stares that we got last year, now we hear “Oh, it’s a great show,” or “My boyfriend is a fan,” and “Hopefully, you’ll have more episodes this year.” So we’re happy to be able to tell them we’ve got a full 13-episode season.
Q: What challenges do those additional episodes present?
A: The challenge, of course, is surviving the heat and the humidity for more than double our shooting schedule. We were essentially on the same schedule starting the beginning of June as we were on last year. And Atlanta has had unseasonably hot weather. I think we’ve broken a few records already with over 90 degree temperatures. But, we were prepared this season. We had all the right clothing. We have a lot of our zombie extras back from last year — they were totally prepared. We really were able to start back up without missing a beat.
Q: Have the zombie extras been instructed to change their behavior at all this season?
A: We really want people to bring their own unique take to it. We still have the same rules, but now we’re dealing with people who have been zombified a little longer. So they’re skinnier, but they’re just as deadly.
Q: Last season you told us you would consider dressing as a zombie for Season 2. Any chance that will happen?
A: I’d probably have to lose about 15 pounds in order to fit with the terrific group that we’ve got, and I don’t know if that’s in the cards.
Q: What about Season 2 are you most looking forward to?
A: We have such terrific character-driven stories. Since we set up the world, now we’re able to delve into the dynamic of the characters among those survivors to a degree that we weren’t last season given the short order of episodes. And that’s what I’m most excited about — to really deliver on that promise from last year. We want to take some literary license with the comic book, such as being able to develop a love triangle between Rick and Shane and Lori. So that’s something that clearly, although it deviates from the comic book in the sense that Shane’s around a lot longer, it also gives us an opportunity for us to really explore what it means to each one of the characters.
Q: Did the reaction to new characters like Daryl, who has quickly become a fan favorite, surprise you?
A: Not really because the first day Norman Reedus showed up and went through wardrobe, hair and makeup, we thought that this is a guy that brings so much to the show. His character is just so interesting. Same for his brother, Merle Dixon. And also, Doctor Jenner played by Noah Emmerich. These are all characters that were not in the underlying source material that really added so much to our ensemble. Some have continued on, as Daryl has and T-Dog. And then Jenner, unfortunately, is no longer with us and Jacqui is no longer with us. And Ed, Carol’s husband. And of course, poor Amy. Sweet little Amy…
Q: Can you give us any hints at what we can expect from Season 2?
A: No! [Laughs] If I told you, I’m afraid that terrible things would happen to both of us. What I can tell you is that we have a lot of surprises in store this season, even more time to spend with the great cast that we’ve got, and more time to spend bashing zombies.