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When he first read the “The Walking Dead” script, Norman Reedus didn’t see it as a TV show based on comic books about zombies.
Instead, he focused on the “heartfelt” story of sheriff deputy Rick Grimes (played by Andrew Lincoln), who wakes up from a coma to find the world overtaken by “walkers.”
“I read it as this guy who lost his family,” says Reedus in between filming Season 8 of AMC’s popular series, which airs this fall. “This tragedy happened and he was just trying to find his family.”
That also turns out to be a pretty good description of Daryl Dixon, a character written just for Reedus. Introduced as the younger brother of the comic books’ racist, redneck hunter Merle Dixon, Daryl starts out as an angry man who rides a motorcycle, carries a crossbow and is a fearless killer.
Over time, though, Reedus’ Daryl has changed from outsider to trusted co-leader of the group. He considers the #TWD survivors his family. “He had a chip on his shoulder, like he wasn’t comfortable being him,” Reedus says. Now Daryl is “somebody you can respect.”
The actor, who has starred in dozens of movies, as well as TV shows and music videos before joining the series in 2010, won’t give away any spoilers for the new season. But he says die-hard fans will notice it feels more like the early episodes.
Reedus spoke with Connie Guglielmo, editor in chief of CNET News, about why he prefers motorcycles over horses, how he’d write Daryl’s final scene and who he’d want on his motorcycle reality show, “Ride with Norman Reedus.” Here’s an edited transcript of their conversation.
CNET: The story goes that you convinced TWD to write a part for you. Why did you want to be on a zombie series?
NR: I read it and I didn’t even read zombies. I read this guy who was just trying to find his family. That first episode of our show is my favorite. It was so different and it was something I would watch.
It seemed like such a heartfelt story, right from the beginning. And then it was like — “It’s a zombie show,” and I was like, “Yeah, zombies were there.” But I didn’t really read that into it.
CNET: I think it’s fair to say Daryl is now one of the most popular characters. How would you describe his journey?
NR: When you first see him, he’s such an angry guy. He basically would’ve turned into his brother. But he’s found a sense of self-worth through these people that he would’ve never hung out with before.
Now that group relies on him. I mean he started out [turns sideways] like, “Don’t look at me, don’t look at me.” He had a chip on his shoulder, like he wasn’t comfortable being him. There were always scripts that had him taking drugs and being racist, like his brother was.
I fought to change those because I felt he should be more of an Al-Anon member and not a full-blown Alcoholics Anonymous member. He should have grown up with it, felt ashamed of it and wasn’t comfortable with who he was. That allows him to grow into somebody you respect. Now he talks to you like this [facing front], like he means everything he says. He’s super direct, super honest and you can count on him.
Now he’s a leader and he calls the shots with Rick. Rick’s the brother that Merle never was. It’s a strange sort of circumstance how it’s made Daryl a better person.
CNET: Why do you think people like Daryl so much?
NR: He wears his heart on his sleeve. He’s honest. He’s not trying to trick you.
CNET: How much of you is Daryl?
NR: I think of Daryl all the time. Everybody calls me Daryl — no one even knows my name anymore. There’s a lot of me in him and a lot of him in me.
What’s good about playing a show for eight years is that … you drop these little seeds behind you and they turn into trees and forests. You can create a larger story, so time really works to your advantage.
CNET: What can we expect in the new season?
NR: It feels like our original show again. I didn’t love last season, shooting it. I didn’t see anyone. I was crying all the time. I was naked and eating dog food. It was just no fun. This season feels like our show again.
CNET: I’m not going to ask if Daryl dies, but if you could write a death scene, would his death be spectacular or quiet?
NR: I think you’d see a sunset. I would walk up over a hill and then a little wolf puppy would come out of the woods and follow me up. And people would just go, “Whatever happened to that guy?”
CNET: You’ve been described as badass, troubled, quietly hostile. How would you describe yourself?
NR: I like quietly hostile. He seems quote quietly hostile. I don’t know who said that, but that sounds cool [laughs].
CNET: Do you pick roles that reflect where you are in your life?
NR: I remember the first thing I was on. My [character’s] dad was passing away. My dad’s in a wheelchair and he stands up and gives me a hug. It’s a big deal. I called my dad and just had a regular conversation and then did the scene. I cried so much that snot was everywhere and it was disgusting.
It’s not that I just pick roles depending on where my life is, but it definitely helps if you can relate to something real to where you’re at, you know?
CNET: Is it true you asked for a dog on TWD and they gave you the crossbow instead?
NR: No, that’s not true. The crossbow was always a thing. But this is what happens with the internet — it just becomes telephone.
CNET: Was a motorcycle always part of the role?
NR: Early on I had a scene where I was supposed to ride a horse. I’m terrified of horses so just when we were about to shoot, I said, “Well, whose motorcycle is that?” And they go, “That’s your brother’s.” And I go, “Well, if he can ride bikes I can probably ride bikes too.” And so they changed the horse for the motorcycle last-minute because I was freaking out because of horses.
What’s good about playing a show for eight years is that…you drop these little seeds behind you and they turn into trees and forests.
CNET: What do you have against horses?
NR: They have giant eyeballs and they can smell your fear.
CNET: You do a show on AMC called “Ride with Norman Reedus” about the culture of riding. Do you own a bunch of bikes now?
NR: Six bikes.
CNET: Any favorites?
NR: I have this one that’s made by Chris, this friend who has a company called LA Speed Shop. It’s a [Harley-Davidson] FXRP — an old police bike that he’s done up — and that bike’s really cool. And [another] friend, Yaniv, who has Powerplant Motorcycles in LA, is building me a bike right now. And then the Triumph Tiger, it’s a personal favorite, which is the one I ride on the show. It’s an awesome bike.
CNET: If you could ride with anyone, who would it be?
NR: I tried to get Cher on “Ride.” That would be awesome. So somebody like Cher or maybe like Marianne Faithfull. We’d both wear one-piece leather outfits with fur on the inside, like [Faithfull wore in] that movie “The Girl on a Motorcycle.” That’d be fun.
CNET: You’re also in video games — including a new one called Death Stranding by game legend Hideo Kojima. NR: What was it like working with him?
It’s mind-blowing. He’s a genius. He came out to San Diego for Comic-Con, and he had some stuff on an iPad that he wanted to show me. I sat in a little restaurant at a booth watching this iPad and the things he’d created, and I was just blown away. I was like, “Whatever you want to do, let’s do it. I don’t even know what you’re talking about.”
It’s unreal. People will do whatever he wants because he’s a visionary.
Everybody calls me Daryl — no one even knows my name anymore. There’s a lot of me in him and a lot of him in me.
CNET: You have a restaurant here in Georgia called Nic & Norman’s that you started with TWD producer Greg Nicotero. I read you just wanted it to be a place where people can get great burgers.
NR: That’s another internet story [that’s] wrong. First, it was supposed to just be a dive bar for the crew to go to — like a barbecue because everybody is a professional barbecuer in Georgia. And somehow it turned into a restaurant. It’s doing great. The food is delicious.
CNET: And Norman’s pick is a bison patty with a slice of beetroot?
NR: Yes, I have beetroot sliced on my burger, which I’d had somewhere and thought was really good. And now Greg and I have dueling burgers and bets on who’s going to sell more burgers. I’m losing horribly. So if you go to the restaurant, order my damn burger [laughs].
CNET: Do you consider yourself a tech person?
NR: I have these little robots that clean your floors. I have like two or three going at a time. So I’m kind of a tech person. I [also] have cameras set up so I can watch my cat walk back and forth if I’m not there.
CNET: What do you worry the cat’s going to do?
NR: I just miss him, so I wanna see him. If I could teach him to talk back to me that would be awesome [laughs].
CNET: If you could have any piece of tech invented, what would you want it to be?
NR: Crap, I don’t know. Where’s our jetpack? Aren’t we supposed to have a fricking jetpack by now? Yeah, where’s my jetpack? I’d race around on my jetpack.
Norman Reedus surprised The Walking Dead costar Jeffrey Dean Morgan with a cake at Walker Stalker Con in San Francisco.
What do you get for the man who brings Negan to life on his birthday? A Lucille birthday cake, of course. And that’s exactly what Norman Reedus did for Jeffrey Dean Morgan at Walker Stalker Con in San Francisco on Saturday.
Morgan was one of many stars in attendance at the celebration of all things The Walking Dead. In the middle of his panel, in front of hundreds of excited fans, Norman Reedus took the stage with a Lucille cake to give Morgan an early birthday present. Morgan’s real birthday isn’t until April 22, but Reedus thought it would be a good idea to start the celebration early, and he had the entire crowd serenade Morgan with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday.”
It’s also worth noting that Morgan is now sporting scruff after trimming his full beard seen on Talking Dead during the season finale. The beard became a mustache that could make Steven Ogg jealous, and now it’s just scruff. And one lucky woman got an up close and personal look at it.
Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan have a bromance for the ages, despite their characters’ battle of wits on the show. Reedus and Morgan have been making the rounds on press tours and convention circuits, and fans have enjoyed seeing them play off each other’s energy.
Reedus and Morgan might be the best of friends, but clearly their television counterparts are not, and that makes watching them at conventions even more fun.
Walker Stalker San Francisco continues Sunday, April 16.
From who’s set to join the anti-Negan battle royale to why we may be leading up to an endgame, your guide to Season 7’s back half
After a bleak and often brutal stretch of episodes last fall, The Walking Dead wrapped the first half of its seventh season back in December with a rousing reunion between Rick, Michonne, Daryl, and Maggie at the Hilltop Colony. Our heroes gave every indication that they were ready to stop cautiously cowering from Negan and to start taking the fight directly to the Saviors. Given that this show’s head writers Scott M. Gimple and Robert Kirkman never rush through any plot development, don’t expect the Alexandrians to storm the Sanctuary any time soon. This spring’s set of TWD episodes will undoubtedly be about the slow process of building coalitions between settlements, while still keeping the bad guys placated until the time to strike presents itself. Plus, y’know, there are still zombies all over the place. That’s what even master strategists refer to as “a complication.”
So as the drama is set to resume this Sunday night, here’s a reminder of where all The Walking Dead’s major characters are in the story, as well as what to look for going forward.
1. Rick appears to be out of his funk … but is he ready to be a leader again?
Let’s be honest: The only thing worse than Rick Grimes making dumb decisions that get a lot of people killed is him spending nearly eight full episodes pouting and doing nothing. In the midseason finale, Michonne finally got her boyfriend to see that there’s no real upside in continuing to be Negan’s slave, as he’s only going to keep demanding more and more; everyone’s life will be so miserable that survival won’t really be worth it. But just because Rick now agrees that they need a plan to defeat the Saviors doesn’t mean that he’s suddenly going to be in a hurry to put his people in mortal danger.
And don’t forget: Daryl just finished a dehumanizing stint as a prisoner at the Sanctuary, and our resident badass may need some time before he’s physically and mentally capable of taking up arms. So at the moment, it looks like the fired-up, more-than-capable Maggie and Michonne are best positioned to take command of this mission. The big question for the rest of season will be whether their former leader and his best hunter will fall into line behind them, or if they’re going to balk at their to-do list.
2. The Hilltop Colony and the Kingdom are about to get involved in the fight (and may soon be joined by others)
The best episodes of Season Seven so far have taken place away from Alexandria and the Sanctuary – specifically, the ones in the very different but fairly stable settlements of the Hilltop Colony, the Kingdom and Oceanside. Maggie seems to have become the de facto leader of the Hilltop, and much of that community appear ready to join her in a fight against the Saviors. But as we saw last fall, the Kingdom’s ruler Ezekiel is a strong but cautious man, who prefers to shelter his subjects from the reality of how they’re actually surviving. Meanwhile, the thriving all-female commune on the waterfront has gone out its way to shut themselves off from all potential alliances and entanglements. Our heroes will need every able body they can get if they’re going to win their freedom, but not every capable warrior will be easy to convince. (Carol, for example, is now living on her own and demanding to be left off the playing field entirely.)
Is there be anyone else they can call on? The series has just about burned through all the factions and neighborhoods that are in Kirkman’s comic books, though in the past, Gimple has shown a willingness to add characters and locations if that serves the TV version of The Walking Dead better. In interviews and promotions for the next eight episodes, the writers and actors have promised the world of the show will be getting larger. It wouldn’t be too surprising to meet some important new people by the end of March.
3. Something might be wrong with Carl
One of the more fertile themes in the show that’s been springing up over the past couple of years is that this new post-apocalyptic Earth’s children may not be “the future” (no matter what Whitney Houston once sang). Again and again, we encounter youngsters who’ve clearly gone off their nut, and have become remorseless killers with no firm understanding of the difference between good or bad – or even life or death.
Throughout the course of the series, Carl Grimes has had moments where he’s seemed fairly troubled, and overeager to pick up a gun to work through his issues. Toward the end of last year, he actually invaded the Sanctuary and picked off a few Saviors; but then after spending a day with Negan, Carl seemed more susceptible to his enemy’s philosophy of how to be strong, especially when contrasted with his currently spineless dad. The younger Grimes went in to the midseason break by his dad’s side at the Hilltop, but his mental state could be something to monitor in the weeks ahead.
4. Negan faces challenges from within and without
Some critics have complained that the season so far has featured far too much of that grinning sadist Negan, but in defense of Gimple and company, one beneficial effect of the recent focus on the show’s super-villain is that he’s been revealed as more vulnerable than he initially seemed. For one thing, he clearly has ego issues. The man wants to control everything, and needs everyone in his immediate vicinity to fear and obey him; and yet he also wants his servants to love him and to appreciate that he keeps them safe. Any resemblance between Negan and the current occupant of the Oval Office is … well, it definitely wasn’t intentional when the character was introduced, but the parallels may become more direct very soon.
Even disregarding his psychological damage, Negan could be in trouble because he’s alienated his own closest allies too much. He takes it as a point of pride that the former Savior fugitive Dwight is now his right-hand man, but he may be assuming too much when he insists that he’s “broken” his best soldier. His scarred lackey still plenty steamed, and with every new enemy that Negan tries to turn into a loyal employee – be it Daryl, Carl or now the bullet-manufacturing wizard Eugene – he sets up an opportunity for a full-blown rebellion.
5. It’s probably time for the show to start moving towards an endgame
From a business standpoint, The Walking Dead is still thriving, even as its ratings have slipped from historically astronomical to about on par with a typical 2010s TV hit. But 2016 – and much of 2015, too – didn’t exactly deliver peak Dead, creatively speaking. Last fall’s episodes were frequently repetitive and overlong, which was made all the tougher to be bear because they were also so often violent; longtime viewers felt punished by the show’s casual cruelty to the core cast. Kirkman’s comics are still a going concern, so there’s a lot of story left for the series to get to. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be the worst idea for Gimple and AMC to take a cue from, say Lost or Game of Thrones, and start figuring out how much longer they want to go on with this. Not only might an announced end-date regenerate some fan excitement, but it might allow the most popular cable drama of all time to go out on top.
“Eeny, meeny, miny, more,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios of the hit show
Yes, “The Walking Dead” will be alive and kicking far into 2017.
A week before “TWD” fans began revving up for its highly anticipated Season 7 premiere, AMC announced that their No. 1 show has been picked up for its eighth season, which premiers in late-2017 and will kick off with the 100th episode of the franchise.
Word of renewal was released through a special on-screen message at the beginning of tonight’s two-hour retrospective special, “The Walking Dead: The Journey So Far.”
“Eeny, meeny, miny, more,” said Charlie Collier, president of AMC, SundanceTV and AMC Studios. “What a joy to partner with Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple and some of the hardest-working people in television to bring ‘The Walking Dead’ to the fans. And, most important, thanks to those fans for breathing life into this remarkable series right along with us.”
Although who dies a horrible death and who lives another day to dine on brains in the Season 7 opener is top secret, “TWD” star Norman Reedus, gave a hint of things to come while appearing on “The Tonight Show.”
“I imagine a lot of people will be kicking their television sets,” Reedus said. “I mean, it’s heavy. It’s really, really heavy.”
If one fan theory is to be believed, Reedus’ Daryl could be the one who gets killed by Negan and his trusty barbed-wire baseball bat, Lucille.
Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” premieres Sunday, Oct. 23, at 9 p.m., followed by an expanded 90-minute episode of “Talking Dead” live from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, featuring Chris Hardwick, the cast members in Negan’s line-up and Lucille.
The tenth iteration of “Mean Tweets” is here — this time with Margot Robbie, Norman Reedus, Ryan Gosling and more reading scathing and hilarious tweets on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Wednesday night.
Hugh Grant kicked things off: “Watching Hugh Grant and his stutteringly pathetic ‘charm’ is about as appealing to me as closing my scrotum in a DVD case,” he read.
“Do y— … Are these real, or do you make them up to be especially nasty?” Grant asked with stutteringly pathetic charm.
Melissa McCarthy got to read, “Melissa McCarthy is the Madea of white people.”
“The Walking Dead” star Reedus took a bite out of an apple after reading an especially suggestive tweet.
Paul Rudd took some heat for being an everyman. His tweet read, “Paul Rudd is the most boring, vanilla dude. You know he just sits at home with his wife having a bland spaghetti dinner talking about his day.”
Zac Efron, Olivia Wilde and Russell Crowe were also among the stars who fell victim to the internet’s bitterness.
But perhaps no moment during the segment topped Bryan Cranston who read, “Bryan Cranston looks like Jim Carrey impersonating Matthew McConaughey,” which is followed up with a genius McConaughey impression that transformed into Carrey part way through.
We will have to wait until October to learn if Daryl Dixon survived The Walking Dead season finale cliffhanger, but at least we have a little news about the man who plays him on the hit series.
Norman Reedus will appear at the Montclair Film Festival in New Jersey and participate in the festival’s Conversation series. In Conversation With Norman Reedus will take place May 7, at 2:30 p.m., at the Wellmont Theater and will be moderated by someone who is very familiar with the actor: Joel Stillerman, who is the President of Original Programming at AMC and Sundance TV.
This marks the fifth year of both the film festival and the accompanying Conversation series. Other people taking part in the series this year include Stephen Colbert, Rob Reiner, Richard Curtis, Patrick Wilson, and Margo Martindale. A press release for the event notes, “Reedus will discuss his work in depth, sharing the stories that have shaped his unique career.” Just don’t expect the actor to disclose whether Daryl Dixon lives or dies.
The Walking Dead: Norman Reedus says he ‘couldn’t speak’ after watching the season finale.
Andrew Lincoln was so distraught, it was the only time he’s ever shown up late for work. Lauren Cohan says she didn’t even want to go to work. Josh McDermitt threw his script across the room.
The cast of The Walking Dead has been very vocal with EW about how upsetting the season 6 finale (airing this Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on AMC) was to both read and film, and now another voice has been added to that chorus. This time it’s from someone who not only appears in the finale, but has actually seen it as well. Or at least an early version of it.
“I saw a little rough cut of it,” Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl, tells EW. “And it’s the most hardcore episode we’ve ever shot. I couldn’t speak after I watched it. And, of course, I knew what was happening, and what was going to happen, and who was involved, but I got to tell you, I couldn’t speak for like an hour. And then I just was bombarded with phone calls on my drive home. But that was a rough, rough, rough cut. I will say that it might be the best episode we’ve ever shot of the show.”
“Hardcore” is also a good way to describe Negan, the super-villain from the comic book who will be making his long-awaited arrival. While Negan (and his barbed wire covered baseball bat Lucille) spells bad news for the characters on the show, those who do manage to survive are exited to work with the man playing him, Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
“I’ve known Jeffrey for a long, long time,” says Reedus. “He’s a friend of mine, and I really respect him as an actor. And as a dude, he’s just the best. It’s weird to have such a nice guy playing such an a–hole, you know what I mean? But that’s just the testament to how good he is. So I’m excited to see where he goes and what happens to that guy.”
The episode will also mark the second straight season finale to be helmed by Greg Nicotero, who has become the show’s go-to director for big episodes. “Talk about the inner circle, Greg’s one of those people who’s with you from the get-go,” says Reedus, “from the very start of everything you do to the very end of everything you do. He’s one of my best friends and I’ve watched that guy just blow the hell up. He’s an unstoppable force right now on the show.”
Now we’ll just have to see if anyone can stop Negan.
Norman Reedus Was Once Asked to Act ‘More Good-Looking … Like the Blond Guy on ‘Lost’’
They said what? Norman Reedus revealed in a new interview with Men’s Fitness that he was once told at an audition to — get this — act more “good-looking.”
“I remember in one of my earliest auditions, the casting director goes, ‘Can you do that a little more good-looking next time? Like the blond guy on Lost,” Reedus said in the March issue of the magazine. “And I was like, ‘What the f–k is that? I … looked up the guy and knew there was no f–king way I was going to get that job. There’s no way I could be that good-looking.”
The “blond guy” in question was Lost star Josh Holloway, who is known for his rugged features — and toothy smile.
Reedus, 47, has his own appeal, of course, but has always marched to the beat of his own drum, having fallen into acting by accident. He detailed to the publication the time he went out drinking with pals in the Hollywood Hills, which led to his stumbling entrance into Hollywood.
“I drank too much and started yelling at people,” he said. “Somebody in that crowd of people approached me about being an actor.”
Reedus will next reprise his role as gravelly voiced Daryl on AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead, which returns on Sunday, February 14.
Asked what fans can expect from his character’s story line, Reedus could only tease, “Chaos.”
“As far as Daryl is concerned, he is pissed off,” Reedus told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview. “He’s had his stuff taken from him. He put himself out there and trusted some people, and it did backfire on him, and I think he comes back super pissed off. … I mean, I know you know the bad guys that are coming. It’s been announced and well, displayed for everyone to see, but there’s definite surprises coming with all of that, and you know, it’s battle time.”
Norman Reedus talks about having ‘knees in the breeze’ on his new motorcycle series
Daryl Dixon lost his motorcycle on this past Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, but star Norman Reedus will still be spending plenty of time riding his bike on AMC.
The network announced last month that it had given the green light to six episodes of a new 2016 docuseries tentatively titled Ride With Norman Reedus that follows the Walking Dead star and companions riding in different cities and exploring motorcycle culture along the way. We spoke to Reedus recently to get some intel on where things stand with the show right now.
“We’re right now in the stages of mapping out where we’re going and who we’re going with,” says the star. “And we’ve got great locations and great rides that we’re planning on right now and with some guests in mind that will come on the show and we’ll go on a journey with them. And hopefully the viewers will feel like they’re on a journey with us.”
Reedus says the closest comparison for his program would be one currently airing on CNN about food. “It’s kind of like what Anthony Bourdain does right now with his show. The common denominator for him is food and when that show first came out it was about food. And then food stayed the common denominator, but it was about experiences and meeting people and hearing their stories. I love that show. I’m a huge fan of that show. And that’s kind of what we’re going for with this — the motorcycles will be the common denominator and riding will be the common denominator.”
Reedus says the first pilot episode has already been shot and has him excited for more. “We shot a pilot episode for it and it was so much fun and we learned so much on this pilot episode in meeting people and seeing these other people’s experiences and going to places with these people and them showing us their ropes. It was great, and now I’m going to be a man on his horse out there traveling the world. It’s going to be fun. I’m super excited.”
The star hopes that his new adventure will be a ride that both motorcycle aficionados and people with no experience will want to take. “I have a lot of friends that ride motorcycles and they’re so excited to watch stuff like that. And the same with a lot of friends of mine that are really into travel and they save their money to go places and see new things. Hopefully we’ll show both those things for people. I’ve got my knees in the breeze and I’m just looking for new stuff. It’s a blast.”