Q: If Season 3 was about the human threat, what would you say Season 4 will be about?
A: What we really have here in Season 4 is we dangle the carrot that civilization can be rebuilt… The notion that there’s civilization and the notion that there’s the possibility of there being laws and a sense of normalcy. I think we’re going to see an evolution in the walkers — there’s a whole bunch of new walkers — and we’ll see an evolution of the threat of human-on-human. Dangling the possibility of civilization will make people much more desperate and willing to do things that would have previously been unthinkable.
Q: What’s it like to go from producing 13 episodes per season to 16?
A: The show is an incredibly physical show to produce. It is super hot and super humid out here, and the crew is just like a group of Marines. They have no fear… Shooting 16 episodes outdoors in Georgia? It’s a lot, and at the end of the season, everybody could use a little R&R to get back into shape. But I have to say going from six episodes to 13 to 16, I feel like we now know how to plan for it.
Q: How’s the location scouting going? What can you tell us about new locations?
A: There’s been some real changes in the prison itself, so seeing how it’s evolved from the last episode of Season 3 to the opening of 401, the prison looks totally different… We’ve also been looking at woods and a couple stretches of highway to find some interesting angles to showcase some unique action sequences that I can’t tell you anything about.
Q: Now that The Walking Dead is in its fourth season, has the production been attracting more attention from local Georgians?
A: It’s interesting. Robert Kirkman and I went into Senoia to grab a bite to eat, and there was probably about 15 or 20 people walking around the streets and every single one of them was clearly a tourist there for The Walking Dead… I hadn’t seen that before. There’s the Woodbury shop on main street. There’s the Woodbury town hall and there are all these things we shot last year that are actual places. And I saw everybody walking up and down the street taking pictures in front of it, posing, and putting on a Sheriff’s hat, doing the whole thing.
VIDEO: Gearing Up for The Walking Dead Season 4
Q: You’ve known Robert Kirkman for a long time. What it’s been like to see The Walking Dead go from comic to life?
A: We’ve been friends for twelve years now… It’s kind of been amazing because when I first met Robert, he was a struggling comic book creator, trying to find himself a home in the comic book field… It’s one of those stories that you see on television all the time, but to see it happen to him has been an amazing experience for me.
Q: When you look back over the past three seasons, what are you most proud of?
A: There are various moments that really stand out… Episode 207 when Sophia comes out of the barn and she’s a walker. Just thinking about it I get chills. I’m not joking… It’s a pure genre moment, but if someone didn’t have their heartstrings tugged by Carol seeing her daughter turn into a zombie and Rick having to put her down, you’re not human, right? And in 304, Carl having to shoot his mom after having just delivered Judith is another perfect example, where it’s an absolutely emotional, intensely involving moment. The genre element is used to heighten the emotional intensity of the scene.
Q: What’s been the toughest character for you personally to lose from the show?
A: The great thing about this show is that literally every character is on the table… We have no one that is untouchable… One of the hardest things was killing Shane. In the comic, it happened much, much earlier, and Robert had said he wanted to give that character a little bit more space to breathe. So trying to figure out what was the right place to kill Shane was really difficult… In the screening room here in production, there’s a wall that says “Our Grateful Dead,” and it’s got pictures of all the characters who’ve been killed off over the seasons. It’s kind of insane: One, it’s kind of touching, and, two, we’ve killed a lot of people on this show. [Laughs] It’s hard to say which one was the toughest.
Q: Are you planning to add any characters to that wall in Season 4?
A: Oh, there’s going to be a whole bunch of people added to the wall.