Hold On to Your Brains! The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus Reveals Where Season 2 Is HeadingAfter a painful year of waiting to see what happens next, The Walking Dead returns for its sophomore season on Sunday, October 16, on AMC. Actor Norman Reedus, who plays redneck zombie killer Daryl Dixon, tells Snakkle where the story picks up and much more. Fill your brains by reading on! By Tara Bennett
In the debut season of The Walking Dead, actor Norman Reedus’s turn as Daryl Dixon, the volatile yet subtly empathetic little brother of sociopath Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), made the prickly character quite the standout. A skilled hunter with nowhere else to go, Daryl reluctantly slunk into his spot living amongst the small band of human survivors including Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his family. By the end of season one, Daryl and the rest of the group were escaping for their lives from Atlanta’s CDC complex, which was rigged to self-destruct. With the series return, Reedus talks to Snakkle about why killing zombies is such a damn fine job. Here’s an edited version of our interview:
Snakkle: After spending two summers killing lurching zombies for a living, do you really believe in ghosts or supernatural things that go bump in the night?
Norman Reedus: I do believe in it. I think it’s definitely out there. I am staying in a loft in Georgia, where we shoot the show, and it’s supposedly haunted. They keep telling me it’s haunted and I keep hearing creaks in the night and things fall off shelves, but I usually roll over and have some kind of verbal outburst like “Dammit, I have to sleep!”
Snakkle: Since you spend a lot of time killing them, have you spotted your favorite zombie creation yet?
Reedus: [Special effects creator] Greg [Nicotero] and his team did one zombie in particular that is really disgusting. I can’t really tell you what that zombie is other than it was extra large and wet. It had parts on it that moved in ways it shouldn’t be moving. It’s pretty disgusting. I think it’s in Episode 7.
Snakkle: Have the set zombies ever scared you?
Reedus: Greg and his team are so good at what they do that it definitely brings you into the moment. It doesn’t look corny at all—ever. Especially up close, it’s terrifying.
Snakkle: How do you get into Daryl’s skin?
Reedus: I’m trying to play him emotionally like he’s a child. Anything that is touching to him or might be touching to who he is speaking to, he isn’t very eloquent. He’s like a sidewinder snake, in that he doesn’t come directly at you but he’ll weasel toward you and then strike. If you notice in almost all the scenes with the groups, everyone is stationary, but Daryl is always moving. He doesn’t sit still often because he’s a nasty, emotionally challenged dude.
Snakkle: Do you find you have anything in common with Daryl?
Reedus: I’m kind of emotionally damaged. I guess his sense of family, because I didn’t grow up with my family, so I understand the importance of trying to reconnect that bond. I’m socially awkward too, to be honest. I get nervous and want to sneak outside for a cigarette to escape. I also like to fix problems and don’t dwell on things. I like weapons too!
Snakkle: Will we get to find out how Daryl and Merle got to be so damaged and angry at the world this season?
Reedus: Some things will be revealed about Daryl’s childhood, about his family situation, that are really depressing. It will make you understand why when he has a big brother who is such an ass like Merle, why he sticks by him and why he needs him. You will see some reasons why he is so connected to Merle and why he had emotional bonds with certain people, and it’s not what you think.
Snakkle: Season one was an origin story for the series. How do you characterize season two?
Reedus: Well, it picks up with the same energy that last season ended with; it’s a very frantic energy. We continue like that until maybe the third episode and then we find a place that everyone can land. And then once we land, it goes into a more emotionally charged drama. But the thing with this show is that out of nowhere—and not just with zombies jumping on you—the energy picks up full throttle.
Snakkle: How does it feel to be immortalized as an action figure for the show?
Reedus: It’s cool! I like it. When I saw it at the premiere in L.A. last week, it looks just like me. It’s kind of creepy. They did such a good job. It looks like a little piece of art.
Snakkle: Daryl is an original character that didn’t come from creator Robert Kirkman’s comic book series. Kirkman says he plans to add Daryl to the books now, so that’s a big compliment.
Reedus: Every time I see him I ask when I’m going in the book. It’s such an honor to help create a character that he’s going to add to his epic graphic novel. I would be so excited to be in that book. My 12-year-old son would do cartwheels. I picked my son up from school last year and he had a huge smile on his face. I asked what’s up and he said some of the big kids asked if his dad was on The Walking Dead. They said they loved Daryl, so now my son has some credit with the big kids at school. If Daryl ends up in the comic books, he might get even more credit.
Snakkle: Will we see Daryl soften this season and bond to his new family?
Reedus: His attitude goes back and forth. I think what’s happening is that as the group is showing that they value and rely on him too, he’s feeling a sense of self-worth. They need him, and his attitude is changing because he is wanted. At times it’s really touching. What’s interesting about playing him is that I can go from that to absolutely seeing red again. It’s interesting to watch him go back and forth and struggle with adult themes and the violence.
Don’t forget to tune in to The Walking Dead, Sundays at 9 p.m. on AMC.
And to see our amazing gallery of The Walking Dead’s zombie-slaying heroes before they were stars, click away!
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